Verizon Uses DM, Mass Media to Promote DSL Service

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Verizon Communications, New York, is promoting its high-speed DSL Internet connection to small businesses with a campaign that includes direct mail, outbound telemarketing and mass media advertising.

The telecommunications company, which was formed late last month through the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is testing the use of mass media to improve response rates to its direct marketing efforts.

Prospects in Boston and Philadelphia began receiving direct mail pieces last month. Prospects in the New York market should have received direct mail last week.

Mass media support, using longtime Bell Atlantic spokesman James Earl Jones, recently began in those markets and in Harrisburg, PA. Small businesses throughout Bell Atlantic's service territory, which extends from Maine to Virginia, will receive direct mail pieces in the weeks ahead as the campaign continues to roll out.

"What we're testing is that, by using mass media, we can lift the response rate of direct mail," said Tim McGowan, senior vice president and group account director at The Lord Group, New York, the ad agency that is handling the campaign.

In addition to the mailings -- which are business-size envelopes containing a letter and a pamphlet that shares the theme of the TV spots -- the company plans to follow up later in the year with postcard mailers. Outbound telephone marketing to the most highly qualified prospects will start about two weeks after the mail pieces are sent, according to Paula Scanlon, formerly executive director of marketing communications at Bell Atlantic, now Verizon.

Neither Verizon nor The Lord Group would reveal the number of pieces that are being mailed in the campaign.

"The more qualified we feel the prospect is, the more exposures to our marketing they will get, and the incremental exposures will come through direct marketing, list management and subsequent outbound telemarketing," she said.

Scanlon said the uncertainty regarding when the name change to Verizon would occur had prevented the company from laying out a detailed timeline for the campaign. The campaign was designed with enough flexibility to allow the Verizon name and logo to be introduced relatively easily.

Verizon is not mailing to all the small businesses within its territory, however. The company eliminated from its mailing list businesses in areas that could not connect to its DSL services. It further narrowed the list by using the business Standard Industrial Classification codes that are used to group businesses by type.

Targeted companies include professional services firms, management consultancies, law firms, doctors' offices and other "information-intensive" businesses that might need to send and receive large volumes of data.

The campaign uses the tag line, "Bring your business up to speed -- with Bell Atlantic Infospeed DSL Plus," which is printed on the front of the mailing envelopes.

Inside the envelope, a tri-fold mailer with the headline "Supercharge your business" uses Jones and a cartoon theme that mimics the TV spots. The offer inside includes free DSL installation and free service connection.

The mailer lists a toll-free number and a Web site address, which are repeated on the back page of the mailer. The Web site also uses the cartoon theme, depicting a colorful sketch of a desktop computer.

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