Big Blue's BTB Prospecting Campaign Aims for Maximum Velocity

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IBM has launched a business-to-business direct mail campaign for its new Blue Velocity customer relationship management service.

The campaign was mailed June 25 to 75,000 executives, mostly prospects, at emerging technology companies and Internet service providers. It was the first marketing effort for Blue Velocity, a CRM effort of 2-year-old IBM Net Generation Business. The unit, known as NetGen, provides Internet hardware and software as well as workshops.

"The reason the NetGen unit was launched was to capitalize on the growing marketplace of these Web-based companies," said Karen Smith, vice president of marketing at IBM Global Net Generation Business. "We want to introduce all of these companies to IBM, so it's logical that the majority of the people we target be non-IBM customers.

"Blue Velocity is the campaign that wraps the entire NetGen unit together," she said. "It provides the marketplace with a portal and a way to understand and see all of the products that IBM has to offer."

The theme of the campaign is how IBM can provide companies "with a way in ... to speed, flexibility, rapid scale of growth and profitability for their company."

Smith called the effort a "breadth-and-depth mailing" since it serves as an introductory vehicle for Blue Velocity and NetGen products and services. A majority of the targets were service providers and e-marketplaces.

IBM tested two pieces for the mailing, with each one going to 37,500 recipients. The envelopes for both were light blue. One had the sentence: "Net profit or Net technology?" written across the middle with the words "What's in?" written underneath. The other envelope had several words, all of which started with "I-N," such as inspired, Internet and infrastructure. The letters "I-N" in each word were highlighted.

Both pieces used the same cover letter outlining the importance of the Internet, its rapid development and how it fits into a technology company's business needs. It also discussed questions or problems that Blue Velocity might be able to answer or solve for a company. The letter then directed people to a Web site for more information on IBM's products and services.

An 11-page booklet explains how Blue Velocity can help improve the Internet functions of hi-tech companies and also directs recipients to the Web page.

The piece also contained an offer of a $15 gift certificate for recipients who respond to the mailer and provide contact information, company, product interests and other marketing data.

IBM wanted to create a campaign that could run over an extended period and could be used to target other segments if needed.

"We plan on carrying this campaign out for a while," Smith said. "Right now we are primarily focusing on service providers but we will eventually have to expand beyond that to target other market segments, and we have created a campaign that will allow us to do that very simply."

There is no time frame for the next mailing, but Smith said it will be product-specific and likely will go to the same 75,000 prospects contacted in the first mailing.

"People who have heard of Blue Velocity and attended one of the events at the site might also be targeted with a product-specific mailing," she said.

Smith would not disclose the cost of the campaign.

The concept for all the marketing collateral was created by Ogilvy & Mather, New York. The direct mail piece was executed by Wunderman, New York, formerly known as Impiric.

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