ChoicePoint Offers DM Services to Agents Through Statewide Acquisition

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ChoicePoint Inc., Alpharetta, GA, a provider of decision-making data to a variety of industries, this month acquired Statewide Data Services Inc. in a merger designed to allow ChoicePoint to offer its direct marketing services to individual insurance agents and possibly expand that business model to other areas of the financial services industry.

Statewide, a provider of prospecting data and telemarketing services to individual insurance agents, will expand the array of direct marketing services it can provide to those agents by offering the direct marketing services of ChoicePoint. Statewide will work with ChoicePoint's ChoicePoint Direct division, which offers strategic consulting, database management, direct mail services and other direct marketing services to financial and insurance companies.

ChoicePoint conducted a mailing earlier this month to 7,000 Statewide customers touting the direct mail capabilities available through ChoicePoint Direct.

"Statewide has customers that are insurance companies that it has turned away in the past, but now that we have the full-service capabilities, we can go back to those customers and offer the full range of services," said Mike Milligan, the ChoicePoint vice president overseeing ChoicePoint Direct. "In the past, ChoicePoint has tended to focus on corporate programs, which were not discussed with the agents. Statewide is just the opposite - they tend to focus on the agents and maybe never contact the agency."

Statewide, which was privately owned by Tim Falzone, president, and Brian Finger, executive vice president, will maintain its Pensacola, FL, headquarters and management team, Milligan said. He said the acquisition was "not a consolidation move" and would, in fact, involve the expansion of Statewide.

"We want to grow it like a wild weed," he said.

Statewide, which also provides data on cosmetics buyers to Mary Kay Inc. sales agents, primarily contacts property and casualty insurance agents through telemarketing, offering several types of data, including lists of automobile owners and homeowners whose insurance is about to expire. Statewide obtains its data - which is organized by ZIP code and updated regularly - from various mail surveys, including those conducted by ICOM, Toronto, and Carol Wright, Largo, FL.

In some cases, Statewide also will call these prospects on the agents' behalf to set up appointments for the agents. Now, those telemarketers also will be able to offer agents a range of database management, campaign management and direct mail services.

"It's really kind of a marriage of a telemarketing-oriented business and a direct mail-oriented business," Finger said.

Milligan said he anticipates that the business model created by the acquisition of Statewide could eventually be applied to other consumer financial services sectors, such as securities firms and banks.

"Consumer finance is a branch-oriented business, not unlike insurance agents," said Milligan. "It would not be unlikely that we would try to leverage that once we got our arms around insurance."

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