U.S.Marketer to Debut e-Marketplace Service

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U.S.Marketer.com next month plans to launch its business-to-business e-Marketplace to bring together marketing professionals and service providers.


The online marketplace, slated to go live Aug. 7, will help marketers find suppliers of media buying, promotional items, direct marketing, e-mail marketing, telemarketing, public relations and other services.


"We wanted to build, essentially, a Web site that appeals to the professional marketer," said Martin Williams, CEO of U.S.Marketer.com, Cambridge, MA. "We looked around, and there obviously weren't many good resources on the Net."


The goal of the marketplace is to simplify the buys a marketer has to regularly make.


"We're going where the pain is the highest for the marketer, where there's poor information. It's time consuming to buy a marketing service like Internet marketing e-mail or online media buying," Williams said. "A lot of marketers don't know where to look. It's not like calling up a buddy and saying, 'Do you know where I can find a good printer?' "


Some of the simpler buys, such as acquiring promotional items, mailing lists or stock photography, will just have the marketer fill out an order form. However, online media buying and other more specific products and services will involve an online request for proposal and request for quote service.


An online exchange will match buyers and sellers. Marketers submit their RFPs and RFQs, and service providers respond with bids.


Online media buying is already a competitive space with companies such as OneMediaPlace.com and AdOutlet.com having established themselves. AdOutlet.com relaunched its Web site last week with new features to make media buying across online, print, television, radio and outdoor channels simpler for buyers and sellers.


Williams doesn't view these sites as competitors, but rather as possible future partners. "We're having partnership discussions with some of the vertical players," he said. "The vertical players are going after one tiny piece of the pie. Most of those companies are going after the media buyer. That's not what we're about. Marketers will go to OneMediaPlace and only find media, and then they'll have to go to 20 other places to find what they need. We're a one-stop shop for the vice president of marketing or the product manager."


The site has been working to pre-register marketing service providers. One of its most successful methods has been e-mail marketing. Its first mailing to 2,000 suppliers netted a 13 percent response rate. A second mailing to a list of 30,000 companies saw a response rate of 5 percent to 6 percent. PostMasterDirect was one of the main suppliers of the lists of marketers.


With the launch of the marketplace will be a sweepstakes. Each marketer that registers will be entered to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.


"It's like, you've spent your whole life designing sweepstakes, here's one for you," Williams said.


In September, the site will attempt to expand its reach by advertising in trade publications, running a banner campaign and making an aggressive public relations push. The site also is in discussions with the Direct Marketing Association and other trade groups.


The marketplace aside, U.S.Marketer will offer new resources including its "marketing search engine." This will consist of a database of articles and features from industry publications.


The site secured $1 million in seed funding last month from an impressive stable of vendors including Dean Witter, Morgan Stanley and Paine Webber.
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