D&B Debuts Products to Identify Prospects, Clean Data

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Business-to-business marketing, credit and purchasing information company Dun & Bradstreet, Murray Hill, NJ, is releasing two products this month that work in conjunction with its 50 million-record database. One is designed to help small companies identify prospects; the other will let clients clean their own data on site by comparing it to D&B's information.


D&B exhibited the first product, U.S. Marketing Lists on the Internet, at the DMA's fall show earlier this month in San Francisco. By downloading the service from D&B's Web site, www.dnb.com, small firms will be able to get their hands on prospect information on 11 million active U.S. business records. The product is expected to go live on the site today. The browser-based service, which clients can order through a credit purchase or via subscription, will let businesses choose criteria and then seek out customers using either Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator. Search results will be storable on the user's hard drive.


"You can basically select what lists you want," said Stephen Horne, D&B's vice president for database consulting services. "You can pull all the information out and get it right there on your PC without having to go through ordering media."


He noted that a typical purchase of the service should run in the hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars. Horne anticipates "several thousand" users of the service.


In its second-quarter Small Business Marketing Survey, which D&B released this month, the firm discovered broad need among small firms to bring their marketing abilities up to speed. Essentially, the survey revealed that the smaller a business, the less its marketing savvy. D&B surveyed 500 small-business owners and executives selected randomly from the U.S. section of its WorldBase database. Most of the firms had five or fewer employees, though larger companies were included. Companies with 25 or more employees were more likely to use formal and advanced techniques like market research and market-share analysis than their smaller counterparts.


Not surprisingly, the more diminutive firms were found to rely on word of mouth, walk-in sales and referrals.


"One of the keys is that [small businesses] aren't prequalifying their potential customers, their prospects. They're just blindly sending mailers. What this product does is address that," Mike Azzi, D&B's public relations manager, said of U.S. Marketing Lists on the Internet.


D&B's second new product, Dun & Bradstreet Connect, is designed to clean a business's customer information by matching it against D&B's database. Billed as a "refinery of information," the Unix- or NT-based product will use fast electronic network connections to let customers implement the D&B database on site.


"It's a way of keeping data clean constantly, sort of a pipeline that runs back and forth between Dun & Bradstreet and the customer's site where a data warehouse is built on site for the customer," Azzi said.


D&B Connect, which became available earlier this month, is aimed at larger businesses. Pricing for a standard service begins at $25,000, while a full-scale information warehouse can run up to $1 million or more. D&B is marketing the product to its current customers and already started six businesses in beta testing.


Both D&B Connect and U.S. Marketing List on the Internet factor into the company's larger goal, which is to become a point of reference for business marketing data across the board.


"We're trying to become sort of the referential standard," Horne said. "If I can convince my customers that my data on average is more accurate, timely and complete than their customer files in terms of naming, addressing, standardization and all those different processes, then I can provide lift to the general quality [of their data] by matching and utilizing our file as the integrity standard inside my customer's business."


D&B makes 650,000 daily changes to its master database, drawing on more than 2,000 sources of information, from public filings and direct feeds at regional Bell operating companies to news wires that the company monitors by key words. Looking forward, one of D&B's selling points will be that its data is current, and more up-to-date information equals more successfully delivered mail.
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