Dell Site Lets Colleges Design Back-to-School Mail Efforts

Colleges have just concluded their spring semesters, but Dell Computer Corp. is already working with more than 100 schools on customized back-to-school campaigns.

Through, Dell will help schools create and execute their own direct mail and e-mail campaigns touting Dell computers to faculty members, departments and students.

“We begin this program as soon as the school year ends because there is an influx of purchasing that takes place at this time,” said Bob Gutermuth, marketing director for higher education at Dell. “Schools are using up their fiscal funds that they have left over from the year, and we also want to get in contact with them and give them a chance to view our products before they get new funds and decide on what purchases they will make for the upcoming year.”

Before this year, Gutermuth said, Dell provided 120 colleges nationwide with a “generic merchandising kit that was predesigned with no opportunity for the universities to customize it.

“They all received the same package from us,” he said. “And while it worked well for a few of the universities, there were others that came back to us and said there was nothing they could do with it.”

This year, lets colleges create and design customized direct mail pieces using templates. Schools can manage all aspects of the campaign and conduct online surveys through the site.

Dell tested the site in April with the University of Pennsylvania and Duke. Neither school ran an actual campaign, he said, but both tested the site functions and were pleased with the ability to customize the marketing materials.

Gutermuth said it has started taking orders from universities interested in using the service and that a few universities have even initiated marketing campaigns.

Schools must register at the site to become users. They can pay for the marketing materials with credits they earn from making purchases of Dell products. If they use all their credits, they then pay cash. Pricing varies based on how many features the school uses.

The technology for is provided by Marcom Architect, a Web-based marketing tool from Tocquigny Advertising, Interactive + Marketing, a full-service ad agency in Austin, TX. Marcom Architect can be customized by Tocquigny's clients. Companies can implement some or all of the features available.

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