LowerMyBills.com Plans Low-Key Campaign

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LowerMyBills.com will launch next week, while also beginning a three-month, $2.5 million test campaign. The site plans to take a direct marketing approach, scorning the extravagant spending of fourth quarter 1999.

LowerMyBills -- a search marketplace that allows consumers to research, compare and lower their monthly bills in 18 categories -- plans to take a traditional direct marketing approach rather than the extravagent spending on branding messages that took place during the fourth quarter of last year.

"There is too much clutter. That's why we're taking direct marketing approach," said Matt Coffin, CEO at LowerMyBills.com, Los Angeles. "There are too many companies yelling, 'Go to xyz.com' and they've not moved the needle. We don't want to spend a lot of money. We want to use it strategically to put a stake in the ground in the industry."

The company will send out 500,000 direct mail pieces in the middle of February. The pieces will include test offers including the use of continuity points or frequent flyer miles and discounts for vendor's services. Greater discounts will be offered for consumers who lower their bills in multiple categories.

"The direct marketing business model will get you the low hanging fruit if you come through on your value proposition," said Coffin. "We're highly confident that if we lower a consumer's bills in one category, they'll embrace us to lower their bills in other categories."

The site will advertise in Internet-related print publications, but not necessarily to attract consumers.

"There's not a sense of urgency for the print medium because it doesn't get points on the board early," said Coffin. Instead the site hopes the ads will attract vendors and possible venture capitalists, he said. The site will test radio in local markets.

Online, LowerMyBills.com is ramping up to launch an affiliate program. It will also test banners and buttons at high traffic sites such as Yahoo and AOL as well as advertise in e-mail newsletters. A sweepstakes, in which the grand prize will be to pay a consumer's bills for a year is also in the works. However, the site is still working out the legal logistics. Direct Partners, Santa Monica, CA, is the agency of record.

Coffin contests that the real marketing coup for the site is its name.

"We saved $50 million for brand awareness just by having a URL address that says exactly what we do," he said.

The service is free to the consumer. Vendors pay a bounty or give the site a percentage per transaction for new customers.

The site received its first round of financing Dec. 16 from eCompanies Venture Group L.P., Santa Monica, CA.

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