VentureDirect to Unveil BTB Co-op

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VentureDirect Worldwide Inc. plans to launch B2BFreeNet, a three-pronged co-op service that will allow marketers to reach businesses via the Web, e-mail and direct mail. The service is scheduled to begin June 1.


VentureDirect, a leading offline direct marketing company, said it created the service because business-to-business companies have been slow to the Web. "In the last six to 12 months, the BTB audience has been finding its way online," said Richard Baumer, president of VentureDirect Worldwide Inc., New York. "It's not there yet, but it will get better."


Using this new service, marketers can cover all of their bases. "We've got a database of 200,000 clients that can't just be online because the total market isn't there yet," Baumer said. "You need an integrated campaign to totally penetrate the BTB market."


The first element, B2BFreeNet.com, will launch June 1. The site, as well as the mailings, will be divided into 23 channels such as accounting, architecture and automotive. Within these channels, companies will be able to offer free samples including downloads, software or magazines. In exchange for these items, visitors must provide information to help the company qualify them as sales leads. The client can access these sales leads, or VentureDirect will e-mail them to the client twice weekly. The site also can provide links to client companies' sites.


Part of the B2BFreeNet home page will feature spotlight offers that will rotate to give each company exposure to the site's visitors. Client companies can purchase choice positioning. Additionally, companies can sponsor the site's special features such as its stock quotes.


The idea is that by providing many free offers at one site, B2BFreeNet will become a high-trafficked destination much like VentureDirect's business-to-consumer version -- FreeForum.com.


"It's a free offer portal, just like FreeForum.com. We're modeling this after some of the successful components of that site. We're attracting visitors looking for information and samples," Baumer said. "It becomes a self-selecting vehicle where customers come there and raise their hands and say, 'I'm interested in your organizing software.' This opens up a dialogue between a company and a prospect."


The second component is the weekly e-mail newsletter. The company currently has 100,000 opt-in e-mail names. Baumer expects that number to grow to 1 million names within 120 days. "The site will allow us to aggregate those," he said. The same offer a company is running on the site will go out in the weekly e-mail newsletter.


The final prong to the program is direct mail. VentureDirect sends out 40 million BTB cooperative mailers yearly. Its direct response card backs will officially be called B2BFreeMail on June 1. "We're sprucing them up, branding it and tying it together with the site," Baumer said. "This will allow advertisers to use co-op mail to drive traffic to their sites."


VentureDirect has been sending out BTB direct response postcard mailings since 1983. It began placing offers on the Web in 1994.


Nearly 100 advertisers have signed on with the service, which costs $3,000 to $25,000 month for the site and $40 per 1,000-piece mailing.
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