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BTB Category Now Able to 'Ask Jeeves'

After developing a highly popular consumer Web site, Ask Jeeves, Emeryville, CA, will begin its first ever business-to-business marketing campaign in an attempt to market its business services.

The site will get its first BTB direct mail campaign under way May 9, when several tens of thousands of mail pieces are to be sent out.

Dave Hellier, vice president of marketing at Ask Jeeves, said that over a couple of weeks, more than half a million mail pieces will go out targeting medium-size to large businesses in the Fortune 2000 category. Within those companies, the site will be looking to reach vice presidents of marketing, vice presidents of customer support and business development and people within Web departments.

“The goal of the campaign is to show companies that we can provide them with the ability to conduct the same level of service with their customers that we do with ours at our consumer site,” Hellier said. “We want to use Jeeves the Butler to help convey the message that we understand relationships and interaction with consumers and customers, while increasing conversion and retention rates.”

This campaign also marks the first to be conducted under the recently unified consumer and business divisions that used to act independently of each other within the company. The products being marketed include Jeeves Search, Jeeves Answers, Jeeves Live and Jeeves Compare.

The BTB space is not new to Ask Jeeves, but it wanted to establish a well-known brand name first through a popular consumer site.

“Before we launched any business-to-business campaigns, we first wanted to make sure we had a recognizable brand that was personable,” said Abby Berens, public relations specialist at Ask Jeeves. “Once we felt it was strong enough and our solutions were proven and liked by some customers, we decided the time would be right to launch a business-oriented campaign.”

The integrated campaign will include direct mail, print, event and guerrilla marketing.

Going out in the mail May 9 will be a four-page foldout depicting Jeeves, the now famous butler, in a number of scenarios helping businesses achieve a better online interaction with their customers.

This first piece, intended to serve as a brand-building device, will have a call-to-action of visiting the newly developed business site of Ask Jeeves at www.corporate.ask.com or calling a toll-free number for more information on its business solutions. The piece will also contain text explaining how the site can improve the online experience for the customers of a business while reducing costs and increasing revenue.

Two weeks after the initial mailing has gone out, Ask Jeeves will drop a follow-up in the mail to those who have not responded to the first piece. Hellier said the company will be keeping track of who responds to the piece and registers at the site to make sure those who have responded do not receive a follow-up mailing. That mailing is still in the development stages, but he said it will focus more on the e-commerce and e-support aspect of what Ask Jeeves can accomplish.

A week after the follow-up mailings go out, the company will send several hundred “high-touch, high-value pieces to highly qualified companies that we are very interested in having a relationship and direct dialogue with,” Hellier said.

He would not disclose the cost of this campaign but said that Ask Jeeves will be spending $40 million on advertising throughout the year.

About two weeks ago, the first print ad, featuring Jeeves in a boardroom meeting, ran in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Investors Business Daily. As part of the kickoff of this campaign, Ask Jeeves dressed a number of people as butlers and had them hand out more than 4,000 copies of The Wall Street Journal to people on Wall Street. The butlers also helped people cross the street and gave directions to people who needed them.

This week, the same ad started running in Fortune, The Industry Standard, Red Herring and Business 2.0, among others. Similar to the first direct mail piece, the ad did not push any products; instead, it focused on discussing how Ask Jeeves can enable a company to achieve better and more personal interaction with its customers. The ad also directs people to visit the new Web site or to call the toll-free number.

The second print ad, depicting Jeeves' providing around-the-clock online service to a company's customers, will begin running in mid-May. Both ads will run through July in magazines and until the middle of this month in newspapers.

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