InfoUSA to Sell Lists Via DRTV

InfoUSA said yesterday it would market its business and consumer leads and mailing lists using direct response television, a rarely used medium for business-to-business marketing.

Use of DRTV as a marketing channel is a first for infoUSA. Consumer and business list sales at the retail level, driven by high demand for sales leads “due to the weak economy,” have been outpacing the company’s SelectPhone and Powerfinder product sales, InfoUSA said.

In addition, the company’s appearance last month on CBS television news magazine “60 Minutes II” appears to have brought increased recognition to the company, infoUSA said. Following the April 30 segment, infoUSA noticed an increase in its retail sales and an increase in inbound phone calls inquiring about its products.

Although the 60 Minute II segment’s tone toward the direct marketing industry was consider negative by some, “it was a huge lift for our brand,” said Vinod Gupta, chairman/CEO of infoUSA, who appeared in the segment.

The first product infoUSA plans to launch via DRTV is its Business Sales Leads and Mailing Lists DVD product, which contains information on 14 million U.S. businesses. InfoUSA will offer the product for $99.95. The Consumer Sales Leads and Mailing Lists DVD will launch simultaneously around June or July, Gupta said.

The products will be packed together with instructional guides designed by the publishers of the “For Dummies” series of manuals. In its DRTV efforts, infoUSA will target 20 million small business owners, including entrepreneurs, independent contractors, insurance agents, real estate agents and “small office home office” professionals.

The first DRTV spots for the products will be short format, running about two minutes, Gupta said. Later, infoUSA will introduce 30-minute infomercials.

Further production details for the shows are not yet available, Gupta said.

InfoUSA also plans to test multi-leveling marketing. Also known as network marketing, this is the practice of selling and distributing products through multiple levels of independent agents who receive incentives in the form of commissions, bonuses and discounts.

DRTV veteran Ron Perlstein, CEO and founder of Boca Raton, FL-based agency Infoworx, said BTB DRTV is a relatively new idea that hasn’t been often put into practice. During the Internet boom, DRTV campaigns offering home-based Internet business opportunities were the most common form of BTB DRTV, he said.

However, these campaigns, which were aimed mostly at consumers, were more like BTC efforts, Perlstein said. InfoUSA’s idea could work in the same way if the company targeted the same audience as the Internet home-business marketers.

The reason kitchen appliances sell well on DRTV is that they have a broad appeal, Perlstein said. The price points are in the low hundreds and everyone has a kitchen.

BTB products tend to have high price points and appeal to a small group, Perlstein said. However, if infoUSA directs its efforts to marketing products that many people can afford and many home and small-business owners could use, the company stands to win with DRTV.

“How ‘niched’ is the product?” Perlstein said. “The less niched it is, the wider the net, the more chance of success.”

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