Two U.S. DM Companies Win European Awards

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LONDON - Two US firms won awards from dmBusiness Magazine at last month's International Direct Marketing Fair here - Kroll International for business lists and databases and Smith Gardner for e-commerce and Internet product of the year.


The awards were given in half a dozen categories with the overall winner announced at a gala dinner on March 15. The winner was the Bereavement Register, a service designed to remove the names and addresses of dead people from databases and mailing lists.


Kroll International is the Dublin-based subsidiary of Kroll Direct Marketing, a Plainsboro, NJ, company with broad experience in the international list business. Smith Gardner is an e-commerce software company in Delray Beach, FL.


It was honored for its Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) technology. The company has several hundred clients in 17 countries and operates regional headquarters in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific.


"They brought the award around to our stand and that's how we learned we had won it," Leland Kroll, the company's president said. The award is a slab of crystal with text engraved on it.


"We entered our product, Publibase, because the pre-conference literature sent to our office said that any exhibitor could enter this competition," said Kevin Eakins, Kroll International's managing director.


Publibase, a database that has the names of 2.5 million subscribers to some 150 trade and professional magazines published by 14 companies in the US and abroad, was launched last October.


"We introduced the concept to list owners last May and four months later had all the agreements we needed to start," Kroll said. It took another two months to set up the database and get it rolling.


Data Services Inc., a Maryland-based computer service bureau, built the database.


"We interviewed six service bureaus in the UK and Europe and DSI and felt that Jerry Mesa's outfit has the best software solutions, the best list hygiene, the best cost and online count system for this product," Kroll said.


About 1.1 million names on the database are from West European subscribers, 142,000 names are from Eastern Europe, 146,000 from the Middle East and 184,000 from Latin America.


"We're looking to add another 600,000 to 700,000 names for the next update we plan to complete in April." The database overwhelmingly contains foreign names but about 8 percent are North Americans who subscribe to foreign publications. The product is not used on the US market.


Kroll is building a network of reps to sell the new product across Europe and already has companies in place in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands that include DBI in France and Wegener in the Netherlands.


"We'll look next at Spain and Southern Europe and for someone in the Middle East if we can find anybody," Eakins said. "Israel would be a nice country to move in as well."


Kroll is using an array of media to market its new product including advertising in trade publications in the US and Europe, direct mail, telemarketing, visits to brokers, a company Web site and e-mail circulars.


As for the lists he used, Kroll remarked, "we know the players in the list business."


While in London, Kroll also concluded a deal with Schober, one of Germany's largest direct marketing companies, to manage its 50-million-name German file in the US. It contains 4.5 million German businesses as well.


Schober had a US office for a number of years but closed it and opted to go through a US company to sell its lists to American companies interested in penetrating the German market.
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