E&Y to Launch Webcasts for Entrepreneurs

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Ernst & Young LLP will spend $500,000 on a series of Webcasts targeting entrepreneurial companies.

The series, available by invitation, is called "Winning Strategies for High Gross Companies." It will kick off Oct. 24 with an hour-long Webcast on www.ey.com.

Ernst & Young and its Webcast content partners -- including law firm McGuireWoods LLP; e-business integrator Osprey; and EYT, Ernst & Young's application service provider -- recently delivered HTML e-mails to promote the series. About 35,000 prospects received the messages. Officials were unable to estimate the size of the audience that would view the Webcasts.

Messages were personalized so a content provider's name and logo were displayed at the top of messages to prospects. Osprey's name and logo, for example, were printed in the top right corner of the e-mail. The headline read, "Osprey cordially invites you to attend an exciting FREE Webcast Series."

The same technique was used for messages sent to McGuireWoods and EYT clients. Besides the logos and headlines, all 35,000 messages were identical.

Links directly beneath the headlines urging prospects to "Register Now!" were used to enhance the chances of turning recipients into registrants. A "Send to a Friend" button in the messages made it easy for recipients to forward the message and fuel the viral effect.

Ernst & Young will get the master list of all registrants, while the content providers will only get the list of leads they generate themselves.

Content providers will use the Webcast to position themselves with Ernst & Young, and the worldwide business services firm will use the Webcast to promote Excelerate To Win, a new service to help entrepreneurial companies quickly increase value, said Bryan Pearce, director of people development for entrepreneurial services, Ernst & Young, Dallas.

The e-mail messages warn prospects that "more than 150,000 new businesses launch operations annually in the United States. Among these, 80 percent will fail within five years." It goes on to say the upcoming Webcast may increase the odds of surviving.

Six thousand prospects from Ernst & Young's house list and an undisclosed secondary list will read this message in their e-mail inboxes, Pearce said.

The campaign was done by MindBlazer, which is hosting and serving the Webcasts, said Cindy L. Praeger, vice president of strategic marketing, MindBlazer, Charlotte, NC.

MindBlazer tapped Radical Communications Inc. to deliver a second round of RadicalMail video e-mails. These will go out Oct. 18, six days before the series begins.

Praeger said RadicalMail recipients typically forward messages one to three times.

In its own effort, McGuireWoods will use traditional direct mail and its own list to target 1,500 prospects.

Company officials have not decided yet if they will tap list brokers to reach a larger audience, said Jeff Hay, partner, co-head of emerging growth and technology at McGuireWoods. "[Direct and e-mail] recipients near Charlotte, NC, will be invited to show up at the McGuireWoods office," Hay said.

The marketing is targeted to "high-growth businesses on the East Coast, primarily e-commerce companies and some technology companies," he said. It is intended to increase the Webcast audience and to drive traffic to www.mcguirewoods.com, where visitors will be able to watch the Webcast after MindBlazer archives it.

Six Webcasts are scheduled to run on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Additional content providers have not been announced.

MindBlazer will leave after-hours voice mail reminders with all prospects two nights before the Webcasts air, Praeger said.

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