*KnowledgeStorm Hopes to Rain Leads on IT Vendors

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KnowledgeStorm is expected today to announce its launch as a marketplace where buyers and sellers in the information technology space come together.

However, despite its marketplace label, the only things that will actually be bought and sold via this site are qualified sales leads.

KnowledgeStorm.com will post information free of charge about more than 37,000 solutions from some 3,800 IT providers, including Ariba, Oracle and PeopleSoft. IT buyers from companies large and small will be asked to register to receive more information about these products. KnowledgeStorm will verify these registered buyers via a phone call. Vendors then pay $35 to receive the qualified sales lead.

This will help IT suppliers more efficiently invest the $10 billion per year they spend on marketing and advertising, said Greg Kemp, CEO of KnowledgeStorm, Atlanta.

Serving as a master directory of IT resources, KnowledgeStorm.com will allow a buyer to hone in on its search for a supplier. For example, if a company is looking for accounting software, it will receive a list of qualified vendors. Once it selects a supplier, it will be able to see reports, data sheets, marketing collateral and online demos of that product.

From the buyer's side, this IT knowledge hub will save time and energy, Kemp said.

"With all of the technology we have out there, we were not using it to better [help amateurs] navigate," Kemp said. "We're finally at the point where we can [use] technology to more efficiently reach a target audience."

The site plans to add seminar and trade show information as well as white papers in the near future.

While the site is officially expected to launch today, it has already been running in test mode. To draw users for the test, it ran a modest e-mail marketing campaign that reached 1.5 million IT buyers. The company e-mailed a message introducing the new site to lists and participated in e-mail newsletters from companies such as Internet.com, IT World and CMP.

The e-mails netted a 4 percent click-through rate. Of those who clicked through, 22 percent registered at the site, giving it 3,000-plus members.

Test companies already have been drumming up leads using the service. One had already received 63 qualified buyers, according to Kemp.

A similar launch campaign will include e-mails, online newsletter sponsorships, banner ads and text links. Four strategic distribution deals have been lined up as well, although Kemp would not release the details of these agreements yet.

KnowledgeStorm is funded by Apex Venture Partners, Live Oak Equity Partners and a group of private investors.

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