Jigsaw Challenges Typical BTB Database Model

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A new kind of business-to-business database that relies on its members for content and data hygiene has grown exponentially since its December launch, and though its CEO hopes to reach the 1 million contact mark by mid-July, his loftier goal is much more ambitious.


"Our goal is to map every business contact on the planet," said Jim Fowler, CEO/co-founder of Jigsaw Data Corp., San Mateo, CA.


Jigsaw is a Web-based system where salespeople, or anyone else, can sign up in one of two ways. They can pay $25 monthly, or they can add 25 contacts monthly to the database.


Jigsaw has 10,000 members and 670,000 U.S. contacts in the database, Fowler said, and opens to international contacts in June. Contact information includes what typically appears on a business card such as name, title, company name, company address, e-mail address and telephone number, either with an extension or a direct-dial number. Fowler said 68 percent of contacts have direct-dial numbers.


Fowler said the company was founded with an eye toward helping salespeople find quality business contacts faster.


"I am not a technical founder. I am a sales guy," he said. "And I know that salespeople spend a third of their time or more seeking out contacts. With Jigsaw they can spend more time on selling."


Paying members are entitled to 25 contacts monthly from the database as well as credit for each contact they add. Members who opt for adding 25 contacts monthly instead of paying also get credit for the names added. Each member selects a screen name for use on the site so their identities remain anonymous to other users.


Jigsaw uses a point system to credit members' accounts for contacts added. Each contact is worth five points when added and another five points after 30 days. In that 30-day period, Jigsaw users can challenge a contact added by another member if the information may be incorrect. A successful challenge wins the challenger 10 points and the user who entered the data loses 10.


No personal information such as mobile telephone numbers or Web mail or personal e-mail addresses are permitted on Jigsaw.


"We're very strict about only having data you find on a business card," Fowler said. "It's a 100-point penalty the first time you add a mobile number, and you get kicked off the next time."


The system is not conducive to spam because members have to do too much work to get the data, according to Fowler. Jigsaw has expelled three members for spam.


Still, what's to stop a Jigsaw member from entering every business card in their Rolodex into the database? Nothing, Fowler said.


"From a philosophical standpoint there is no doubt that Jigsaw is pushing the envelope but there are many companies out there that have the exact same data that Jigsaw has and even go into the personal side," he said.


Jigsaw has received some complaints, he said.


"There are people who will say, 'how dare someone monetize my data for personal gain?' and we say, 'where's your outrage for traditional data companies?' " Fowler said. "Once we ask them if they know who added them to other databases like Dun & Bradstreet or infoUSA, then they say, 'gosh, that's a great point.' "


Fowler said Jigsaw is the only database that lets people see whether they are on it and set contact preferences without being a member. Anyone can go to Jigsaw's home page at www.jigsaw.com and check whether they are in the system by typing in their business e-mail address. If they are in the system, they can go in and set contact preferences and provide specific instructions to salespeople.


Members wishing to take contacts out of Jigsaw can do so for five points per contact or $1 each. Though $1 per contact seems steep by direct mail standards, Jigsaw users are happy to pay it, according to Fowler.


One such user is Richard Barrett, partner at One-to-One Business, Pleasanton, CA, a sales consulting company. Most of Barrett's clients are BTB salespeople who sell products or services with transaction values exceeding $50,000. Typically, they use all four communication methods: e-mail, telephone, direct mail and visits, he said.


"In these types of sales you don't expect one postcard to carry the entire message and the entire transaction," he said.


Barrett said he began exploring Jigsaw in January on behalf of a client that is a third-party logistics transportation provider. The first thing he did was identify what titles likely purchasers of the client's services would have by making some phone calls. He found that director of logistics as well as vice president and chief executive would be ideal titles to target.


"About six weeks ago we basically took a snapshot of the Jigsaw database, and there were about 2,000 contacts with the title level and functions that we were looking for," Barrett said.


About half of the contacts were acquired with points and half were paid for, he said. The firm sent an introductory e-mail to the contacts and said that a phone call would follow. Barrett said the $1,000 expenditure was worth it.


"For a B-to-B sale like this you need repeated contact," he said. "A one-time usage is simply not effective. With Jigsaw you get the postal, telephone number and e-mail and you own it."


Once you buy a contact, you also own all updates to the name.


Of the initial 2,000 contacts, Barrett's client considers 10 to be active prospects and expects to close the first deal shortly. With an average sale for the client worth about $1 million a year, one sale will more than pay for the names, he said.


Though Barrett said he has challenged contacts, he is pleased with the overall quality of Jigsaw's data.


"The quality is good, the titles are good and over 80 percent of the telephone numbers are direct dials," he said.


Because $1 per name is too rich for most postal mailers' blood, Jigsaw's postal names are available only for one-time usage list rentals through Direct Media for a much more manageable $125/M.


"Those who are willing to spend $1 a name are not the typical B-to-B direct mailers renting postal names," said Mike Mayhew, senior vice president of business-to-business list management at Direct Media Inc., Greenwich, CT.


While the Web-based Jigsaw system updates constantly, the rental-only file available through Direct Media updates monthly and had about 465,000 names through March with the April update expected soon. Since the list went on the rental market in March, several mailers have contacted Direct Media about testing it.


"We've had interest from some credit card mailers, business publishers and technology publishers," Mayhew said.


Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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