BeNow Sees BTB Opportunities to Promote E-Commerce Solutions

Four longtime marketers in the database industry, responding to an increase in client requests to help them implement electronic marketing systems, last month launched BeNow Inc., a new business-to-business electronic marketing company.

Brad Neuenhaus, Andy Cutler, Tom McGinley and John Groman closed down 14-year-old TPC, an established $10 million database marketing company, and started anew.

“We wanted to be very aggressive and change the name to really sharpen the focus around e-marketing,” said Neuenhaus, president of BeNow, Burlington, MA. “We wanted to make it clear to our customers and prospects that we're helping to build the bridge to what we believe is the future of marketing.”

The future, indeed, looks good for the online BTB market. According to a survey released by online research company Jupiter Communications Inc., New York, the U.S. BTB market is expected to expand to more than $6 trillion by 2005. Additionally, Neuenhaus cited statistics from the Direct Marketing Association, New York, stating that businesses will spend $4.3 billion on BTB direct e-mail by 2003.

Neuenhaus said TPC conducted its own research — $70,000 worth — that also reflected the market boom. After several rounds of survey research, ranging from personal interviews to surveys conducted online, the results not only revealed a definite shift toward e-mail marketing but also a need for traditional database marketing, a field in which the four entrepreneurs had a wealth of experience.

“Our roots are classic database marketing,” said Neuenhaus, who, along with the company's other co-founders, worked for more than 10 years at Epsilon, a marketing and e-business solutions company in Burlington. “A starting point for most of our clients, before using e-mail as a channel, is to use traditional techniques to build their e-mail lists,” he said.

BeNow works with a prospective client with the understanding that it has to “engage with us on a continuum of services,” Neuenhaus said. That agreement entails a variety of services. “It's more than just e-mail,” he said. “What you have to do is provide the database services and the data-mining services and the strategy services.

“The industry is going right to where we're coming from,” he said.

However, while BeNow was founded on database marketing principles and has no plans to abandon its core values, the company's primary objective is to provide one-to-one, online marketing solutions for its clients, Neuenhaus said. BeNow offers its clients free e-mail service. By contrast, its competitors, he said, charge their clients to deliver e-mails a per-unit cost of as much as 10 cents.

“These are digital communications, and they're virtually free,” he said. “The marginal cost to deliver an e-mail — it's nothing — and our pricing reflects that.”

Instead, BeNow charges its clients an undisclosed monthly fee for, in most cases, full-scale online services, Neuenhaus said. Sola Optical, Petaluma, CA, was a client of TPC for four years and is a client of BeNow today, said Nancy Roellke, marketing promotions manager at Sola Optical. BeNow manages the company's database and e-commerce operations, runs special integrated promotions and delivers an e-newsletter, she said.

“[BeNow] drives consumers to our Web site, yes, but what's really been successful is the securing of [consumers'] e-mails right into our database,” Roellke said. “It's a very efficient system.”

BeNow also implements online databases for its clients in 45 to 90 days, Neuenhaus said, nearly 66 percent faster than the industry standard. He said BeNow has already created a standard BTB infrastructure and data model.

“Since we have prebuilt the complete marketing infrastructure,” he said, “we are able to get clients up and going relatively fast at less of a cost than custom solutions.”

Within the next six months BeNow plans to help its clients implement online seminars, Neuenhaus said. These “Webinars” are effective BTB marketing tools, he said, for people generally have to provide detailed information in order to register.

No matter the tool or method, though, “electronic marketing ends up being one of the highest forms of carrying on an interactive dialogue,” Neuenhaus said. “Direct marketing has progressively moved toward a more continuous form of communication vs. episodic campaigns.

“Business-to-business e-marketing is the next step in that very logical evolution,” he said.

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