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Bill Barta on multi-channel marketing to college applicants

Published on May 11, 2010

William J. Barta

Interviewer:  Hi.  I'm Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com.  I'm here with Bill Barta who is president of Rider Dickerson in Chicagoland.

William Barta:  Nice to see you.

Interviewer:  Nice to see you, too.  So I understand that you've recently lost a couple of years migrated to what you might call a marketing services provider from the general commercial print.

William Barta:  Correct.

Interviewer:  And maybe you could talk to us about a specific customer where you've exceeded their expectations on a campaign with response rates or whatever other metrics they're looking for by using integrative marketing. 

William Barta:  Sure.  Be happy to.  We're in the Chicagoland area and a big part of our business is for universities and educational clients and their perfect application for the Mind Fire solution.  Recently, we did a campaign for a university in the Chicagoland area for new students coming in, seniors in high school, and they were trying to drive students to go to open houses throughout the country; they actually have campuses all over the country.  In the past, they did a static piece.  I think their response rate was somewhere in the two percent response rate.  We did a variable postcard with a personalized URL, so it was actually targeted to male or female.  There were potential scholarships from the university based on their ACT scores, so each card had a different amount as their potential scholarships.  There were different landing pages depending on which campus they were going to.  Bottom line, we think we did about 60,000 or 70,000 postcards.  I think the response rate was somewhere in the eight percent.

Interviewer:  Eight percent?  Wow.

William Barta:  And the client was ecstatic.  When we introduced this technology about a year ago to them they wanted to do a campaign right away and they had one coming up and we kind of put them off because they didn't have their ducks in a row.  We took our time with this one, put it all together, and the client was ecstatic.  In fact, right now, we're doing a second version of that campaign.

Interviewer:  So when you say they didn't have their ducks in a row, they didn't really know -- didn't have the data lined up, or didn't --?

William Barta:  They didn't really have the DLI -- when you're doing these solutions with your clients, the clients need to be involved obviously, because you need to discuss what they're trying to accomplish with these campaigns and they -- it was happening very fast and they just didn't have time to really think it all the way and we didn't want to walk into this technology and try to do something that we didn't was going to be successful unless we had all the information, not only the data, but what type of results they were trying to get.  So we kind of put them off and did it on this last campaign and they were very excited about it.

Interviewer:  And do you find that it's easier to go through the sales process if you're working with a client that's already done a static campaign, so they kind of know okay well this is the results that we get from static?

William Barta:  I think the challenge that we're facing, and it sounds like the other companies are facing, is getting clients first time to use this technology, because they're a little reticent, they're just not sure what it's all about.  A lot of them don't have good management of their data and that's really the key.  You got to convince them that they've got to be able to get good data to start these programs.  If they don't have good data, they shouldn't use this technology or any technology.  They shouldn't spend any money on marketing because the key is the data.  So once we kind of get over that hurdle and work with them on their data and once we get that first campaign going, then they get very excited about it.

Interviewer:  So your advice to someone who's getting into this is to just be cautious, take your time, make sure that the customer is on board, that their data is in good condition, and don't try to rush it.

William Barta:  Don't try to rush it and spend a lot of time training your clients.  Have as many meetings showing them demos because if you try to rush it and they've never used it before they're going to -- they get a little crazy and they don't necessarily want to jump into it.  So but my experience is every new client that we've done this with, they're ecstatic and they keep coming back and doing more of them.

Interviewer:  Which is really important because now you've got a longer sales cycle.  So you need to know that at the end there's going to be a recurring annuity.

William Barta:  Exactly.

Interviewer:  That pays back that investment for you.

William Barta:  Absolutely.

Interviewer:  Great.  Thank you.

William Barta:  Thank you very much.

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