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Apr. 19, 2010: San Diego Business Journal


MARKETING: Company Looks at Customer Activity Information to Steer Marketing Programs

Today, technology marketers, like many of their industry cohorts, are being challenged to do more with less. They need a cost-effective way to identify and engage prospects for their products and services early in the purchase process. They are also suffering from data overload with a variety of sales channels such as e-mail, fliers and social networking.

Enter Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence, a San Diego-based direct and targeted marketing services company that has created a unique set of comprehensive and integrated, multichannel, data-driven solutions for top brands around the globe.

Parent company Harte-Hanks, founded in 1923, has also created shopper advertising opportunities to local, regional, national and international consumer and business-to-business marketers. As North America’s largest owner, operator and distributor of weekly shopper publications, Harte-Hanks publishes more than 1,100 separate editions of The PennySaver and The Flyer, which have a combined circulation of more than 13 million in California and Florida.

“We help our clients gain insight into their customers’ behaviors from their data and use that insight to create innovative multichannel marketing programs that break through the clutter to deliver impressive, business-changing results,” said Tino Kokkinos, managing director of Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence. “We want to make sure our customers get maximum value from their direct marketing investment.”

To help its clients gain market share and customers, Harte-Hanks offers a range of services, including comprehensive database marketing, strategic e-mail campaigns and lead generation programs, from strategic planning to market research, creative design, multichannel execution, social engagement and customer analytics.

Identifying Active Buyers

“We try to profile the business market for our clients so they understand how to better spend their resources in marketing and sales,” said Randy Ilas, vice president of product development and marketing for Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence. “If you are selling technology or telecom products, those are things businesses use in great variation, but they use them on different levels. Technology has changed so much, and the way people have digested and use those services has changed. We try to better find out for our clients which companies are planning investments in key technology areas, and what the timeline is, what type of budget they have and who the decision maker is for those purchases.”

Ilas said one of the biggest challenges companies in any of these industries have is finding opportunities in their given markets.

“Businesses are making purchasing decisions in a variety of different ways,” he said. “They go online to make a value judgment about products; and they ask colleagues what companies and products they use. One of the biggest challenges for our clients is to identify those opportunities, especially in a down market. They need to find businesses that are actively looking to purchase something. The big question is, ‘How much time and money are you going to spend qualifying potential sales?’ That way your sales force can represent your company’s business solutions in a real business environment.”

One of the trends in reaching potential customers is through e-mail, Ilas said. There has been a move away, he said, from traditional sales and marketing channels such as direct mail and even trade shows.

“We’re trying to add value on top of traditional business marketing,” he said. “We add the intelligence that allows customers to segment their market and get through that crowded space on an e-mail.

“The buying and selling process is becoming more complex — the technology buying process requires more approvals for computer services and products,” Ilas added. “Companies are less willing to spend their money early so you have to go through a longer procurement process. Our type of key intelligence will help feed your sales group.”

Developing a Sales Pipeline

One Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence client is Total Tech International Inc., San Diego, which provides a broad range of managed IT services, including help desk services, on-site services, and remote monitoring and management services. Total Tech’s clients include health care facilities, educational institutions, nonprofits, financial institutions and private equity companies.

Total Tech has had a lot of success with demand generation programs from Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence, according to Chris Metcalf, the company’s vice president.

“We utilize the Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence technology database and calling teams to develop a sales pipeline for specific products, such as ESET antivirus software,” Metcalf said. “The comprehensive technology profile allows us to accurately target prospects, such as companies with a specific number of networked systems in a specific industry that are currently using a competitive and less effective product. Our goal is to broaden and deepen our pipeline on a product-by-product basis and Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence excels in this area.”

He said Total Tech also uses the Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence tech database to create a comprehensive geographical profile of all companies in a specific region, such as San Diego County, that fit the company’s general target market, which is small- to medium-sized businesses, for Total Tech’s enterprise security software products.

Total Tech uses the database to target small companies for its outsourced managed IT services.

“The Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence product allows us to be specific,” Metcalf said. “It provides detailed management and technology contacts, as well as comprehensive technology profiles that support our internal direct sales and marketing efforts.”

Metcalf said despite a slow economy, it’s critical that companies continue to focus their efforts on effective marketing in order to grab future business.

“Even in a down economy you have to focus on building new business and new prospects and your pipeline to keep business running; then you can prepare for the upturn when all the prospecting you’ve done pays off,” he said. “You can’t run and hide when things turn down. You have to double your efforts.”

Integrating Social Networking

In order to helps its clients stay to the forefront of successful marketing, Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence this month launched a major expansion of its Ci Technology Database, which includes more than 4 million businesses and 5 million business and IT decision makers.

“In addition, we are providing insight on the likelihood that the business has installed or is likely to purchase a particular technology for over 75 technologies based on proprietary information available only to Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence,” Kokkinos said. “Our customers will use these technology indicators to allocate their marketing dollars to the segments of the market that make the most sense for their products and services.

Return to: 2010 Feature Stories