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Grey Direct Moves Toward One-Stop Global DM Shop

Grey Direct Marketing Group Inc. expects the purchase of MarketData Solutions, Chicago, late last month to bring it one step closer to creating one truly global organization.

The new company, which will combine the existing Grey Database Strategies operations with MarketData Solutions, will retain the name MarketData Solutions. It will operate as an independent division of Grey Direct, and will have $25 million in worldwide billings and offices in five countries. Ken Lomansey, current president of worldwide of MarketData Solutions, will retain his position.

Grey has been in the database marketing and marketing analytic space since 1993, when Grey acquired 40 percent of database marketing firm Market Knowledge. However, in 1996, Grey and other partners sold it to Equifax. Lomansey, who was the president of Market Knowledge when it was sold to Equifax, left Equifax in 1997 to start MarketData Solutions. George Wiedemann at about the same time started Grey Database Strategies with partner Andy Deutsch and was using this division of Grey, along with the services of MarketData Solutions, to offer clients database marketing strategies.

The merger of Grey with MarketData Solutions, however, creates “one brand, one company, one global organization,” said Wiedemann, Grey's chairman/CEO.

And, this uniform brand is important to Grey because “there is a difference between owning 10 companies under a holding company versus truly having a global network that is uniform and one brand. My vision is to have one global organization, and it allows a global database marketer to have one-stop-shopping, one set of global standards, one bill in one currency, one key manager and global control,” said Wiedemann.

Grey/MarketData's clients, who are either based overseas or who are global by nature, should appreciate the change.

“Now these companies will have one point of contact for their database strategies, one architecture, and one set of standards,” Wiedemann said.

However, Wiedemann said that these companies will still work with some local agencies overseas. “We have a saying here at Grey that is global vision, a local touch,” said Wiedemann. “When you travel round the world you have to deal with different languages and different postal services so we have to understand how to accomodate all those local issues, but now we will have one system, one vision through which to do this.”

MarketData Solutions will have offices in Toronto, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Seoul, and London.

Grey is hoping its merger with MarketData Solutions will help the company gain new clients overseas, and is also looking at more acquisitions there, though he would not name specifics.

MarketData Solutions, which specializes in customer relationship management solutions, has expertise in building client-server based marketing information platforms. This platform will be used to allow clients from all over the world to access analytical data and communicate with MarketData through a proprietary Internet system.

“I think companies like [MarketData Solutions] forced some of the big database companies to depart the mainframe model and migrate to the client-server model for a lot of their clients,” said Wiedemann.

MarketData Solutions also has expertise in credit card marketing and direct marketing in the financial sector.

MarketData Solutions is not “planning to go into the data processing service bureau side of the business,” Wiedemann said, “which requires a planned facility with security and back up and owning the computers and tape library environments.” Instead, the company is planning to partner with these types of companies.

“We are focusing on the strategic consulting side of database marketing issues,” he said.

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