Plastics Distributor Finds New Customers

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A database program designed to increase Outwater Plastics Industries Inc.'s, prospect database did that and more: It opened the Woodbridge, NJ-based company to a new type of customer.

A few years ago, executives at Outwater, an international plastic component products distributor to the building and woodworking manufacturing industries, decided that even though they were sending out 1 million product catalogs a year -- and adding new customers at a rate of 50 a day -- their market was saturated.

"We felt like we were at a dead end. We knew that we had exhausted the woodworking industry [through the use] of our list compilers, who would give us names from magazine mailing lists," said Rich Fallon, database marketing and MIS manager for Outwater, which has sales of $30 million a year and 75,000 U.S. and international mom-and-pop shop customers. "We knew we could get more people to buy our products within different industries, but we just didn't know how to do it."

Fallon said his compilers were offering names of businesses that fell into one general SIC code -- such as woodworking -- as opposed to less finite categories such as woodworking cabinets or refrigeration. About two years ago, he heard about Waltham, MA-based iMarket's CD-ROM-based desktop marketing product, MarketPlace Pro, which houses Dun & Bradstreet's marketing database of more than 10 million U.S. businesses, and decided to implement it. This product contained breakouts of very specific SIC categories, and he figured the information would give the company a greater pool of prospects to work with.

Fallon profiled his existing customer base with MarketPlace and discovered what he had suspected: His product line appealed to hundreds of industries outside the presumed markets of woodworking and building.

"After working with MarketPlace, we realized we were missing categories such as wood and kitchen cabinets, carpentry work or cabinet building," Fallon said. "These are the types of companies that use our products."

It also gave Outwater insight into categories the company should not have been mailing to, such as refinishers. Immediately, Fallon changed his mailing lists and began sending out better, more targeted catalogs and direct mailings.

Now, Fallon receives an updated CD-ROM from MarketPlace every quarter, which costs about $1,800 a year. He uses the program three to four times a week, merging it with other in-house geographic databases and trade-show lists to conduct business and trade-show analyses. For example, when the company introduces new products, he takes similar products, learns which SIC codes have purchased these products and sends catalogs with those new products out to those specific SIC codes from the beginning.

Earlier this year, Fallon used MarketPlace Pro for a mailing for Outwater's architectural group that targets the construction industry. MarketPlace helped Outwater find customers in specific categories -- such as the residential construction and new home construction industries in addition to the more general construction SIC category -- and found 450,000 prospects to send architectural catalogs to. Currently, the group has grown from 6,000 customers to 16,000 customers and has doubled its sales.

This month, the company will send 300,000 new catalogs to a refined architectural prospect/customer list that also includes categories such as interior designers, architectural service companies and lumber and mill-work companies.

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