Simplexity, to Market Long-DistanceComparison Service

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A new company that helps small businesses shop for long-distance telephone service is having some initial success with a direct marketing campaign that relies heavily on inbound telesales and outbound telemarketing.

Simplexity, Herndon, VA, analyzes businesses' long-distance telephone needs and presents them with a list of carriers and their rates. Simplexity has secured the cooperation of several long-distance carriers that have agreed to pay Simplexity to be included in its rate comparisons. Simplexity partners with business associations to market its service through direct mail and telemarketing., McLean, VA, is providing outsourced customer support and other teleservices functions for Simplexity, including inbound telesales and outbound telemarketing.

Simplexity launched its service this year through an affiliation with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Nashville, TN, a group that includes about 600,000 small business members.

"It made sense because the small and [medium-sized] business does not have any resources to try and figure out what kind of service was right for them, much less to try and figure out how to get bids from multiple carriers," said Larry Andreini, vice president of marketing at Simplexity.

In its initial direct marketing effort with the NFIB, which launched in March, Simplexity test mailed 60,000 pieces to NFIB members in six consecutive 10,000-piece drops. It followed with two drops of 140,000 pieces each.

The mailings promoted a product called the No Effort Bid, in which businesses were invited to fax a copy of their phone bill. The faxes were received by CyberRep, which called the businesses back to discuss alternative carriers based on the information contained in the phone bill. The businesses also could receive a fax listing the alternative carriers and their rates, or they could have a CyberRep agent create a page on Simplexity's Web site that compares alternatives.

In addition to handling the No Effort Bid fax proposals, CyberRep also has been conducting outbound calls to the businesses that received the direct mail.

Fred Holladay, senior vice president and chief financial officer at the NFIB, said about 100 NFIB members have bought their long-distance service through the program, and about 390 NFIB members have registered with Simplexity to look into the program.

The NFIB previously had an agreement to offer MCI to its members, but Holladay said that agreement expired a few years ago.

"We're not getting cancellations from people who interact with somebody over the phone," said Andreini, who noted that businesses are more likely to cancel services ordered through the Internet without a phone consultation.

He also said businesses tend to be more skeptical of telemarketing pitches that endorse a specific carrier.

Simplexity is preparing to launch an affiliation with the National Association of Wholesalers that will be marketed in a similar manner.

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