Harte-Hanks Inc., San Antonio, launched an interactive division last week in a move to expand its traditional direct marketing business.
“This is a very serious commitment to what is a direct marketing medium,” said Richard Hochhauser, president/CEO of Harte-Hanks Direct Marketing, the company's largest division. “We are very strong in the mail part of the business, we are very strong in the telemarketing part of the business, and it is our intent to become very strong in … the Internet.”
The interactive division will sell e-commerce systems designed to process orders, track inventory and capture customer profiles. It will develop e-mail campaigns, consult clients on Net marketing, set up online registration for client-sponsored events, arrange interactive employee training programs and track firms' sales leads through the Web.
Spectral Resources, Woodstock, NY, a company Harte-Hanks acquired late last year, forms the backbone of the new interactive unit.
In those areas where Harte-Hanks lacks technology or expertise, Hochhauser said the company plans to strike deals with outside firms at various e-commerce levels to round out its new services. Most services to be offered by the interactive division are up and running, though some will roll out over coming weeks. Harte-Hanks plans to package the Net services with the more tried and true direct marketing work it sells.
“Over time, the Net is going to be one of a series of complementary media. The fact that we're in other media will help us,” Hochhauser said.
Prior to announcing the division, Harte-Hanks already managed Internet transactions for more than 90 clients including blue-chip players in the technology space such as Dell Computer Corp., Round Rock, TX, and IBM Corp., Armonk, NY. Harte-Hanks also designs Web sites and makes database software that can be used on the Web. Hochhauser conceded that the formal launching of the new division is meant partly to raise awareness about services the company already offers.
The new unit will be marketed by Harte-Hanks' field sales force, which is broken into groups specializing by industry. Sales people have already begun pitching the service to hi-tech firms, Hochhauser said.