Ferro Looks to E-Newsletters to Tout Rubber Products

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Ferro Corp. has debuted its first business-to-business e-mail newsletter with an eye toward shortening its 10- to 18-month sales cycles and trimming the costs of staying in front of potential buyers of its special rubber compounds.


Since mailing 1,200 electronic newsletters in mid-March touting the most recent advances of its products -- specifically its Alcryn Melt-Processible Rubber -- the Cleveland firm has seen its Web site activity increase by nearly 20 percent. This month it will mail the second edition of the Alcryn MPR Solutions quarterly newsletter to more than 1,500 prospects and clients.


Each mailing costs $3,000, according to David Sautoleri, director of sales at Ferro's Advanced Polymer Alloys division, which manufactures the Melt-Processible Rubber product.


"Prior to this we were running ads in industry journals and doing a little advertising through direct mail," he said. "We looked at this as a cost-effective way to not only reach out to prospective clients and keep current ones informed, but it allows us a way to keep our sales representatives and distributors updated. A direct mail campaign to this many people would normally cost us $10,000 to $15,000."


Through the e-newsletters, the company aims to keep people updated of advancements in its Alcryn MPR product. This is the black rubber substance used around the edges of windshields on automobiles, the edges of windows on homes and buildings as well as on the grips of tools.


Ferro's main prospects are designers and purchasing agents at large corporations in the automotive, architectural, appliance and tool industries, including General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Andersen Windows and Black & Decker.


However, e-mail opens new avenues for Ferro.


"With the e-newsletter we can also target small mom-and-pop stores for the first time," Sautoleri said. "That is a group of people we don't get in front of that often, since we can't usually afford to go out and meet with them."


Ferro also sent the newsletter to its sales agents and marketing representatives in its distribution channels, hoping they would forward the e-newsletter to regional prospects and clients.


"The forwarding capability will give our distributors and sales representatives the ability to more effectively reach out to customers in their region that we would have no luck in trying to reach through other mediums," Sautoleri said.


Names for the effort are from an internal database of customers, prospective clients and people who have contacted Ferro requesting product information.


The all-text newsletter offers information on where new Alcryn MPR products will be available, a case study discussing a recent application of the product, a listing of the latest companies to sign on with Ferro and tips on how to use the product better from technical service managers at the company. The newsletter provides links to the main APA information Web page and to the main APA sales and marketing division Web page.


"Through the newsletter we are trying to accomplish a number of things," Sautoleri said. "We really want to make people aware of our product by building brand recognition, and by providing information and case studies from other companies that are using the products, we can hopefully cut down on the sales cycle time."


Sautoleri said that because of the 10- to 18-month sales cycle, there is no way to tell yet whether the newsletter has boosted sales.


A few hundred new names will be added to the second mailing. Sautoleri said recipients of the first mailing will receive the second newsletter unless they opted out.


"We had less than 100 people say they didn't want to receive the next newsletter," he said. "And with a product like this, you really have to stay in front of people continually."


He said the company is considering purchasing an opt-in e-mail list from trade journals for future mailings.


"This is our first step toward using e-commerce," he said. "The more contact we can have with our customers, the better."


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