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Interpower adjusts marketing mix online to net new leads

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Objective: Interpower Corp. needed to rebuild its lead-generation capabilities in an online environment.

Strategy: The company invested in registration-based e-newsletter services, casting a wide net with third- party sponsorships and creating targeted e-newsletters in house.

Results: Interpower pulls 300 to 400 new leads into its sales funnel each month.

Ralph Bright has been in the business of marketing Interpower Corp. products long enough to express some nostalgia for reader service cards. The magazine inserts allowed his engineering audience to request a catalog with an action he could tie directly to an ad placement.

“It was easy before because you would put an ad in one of the magazines, and you would get 1,000 to 2,000 reader service cards back,” the VP-marketing said. “Now, it's crickets.”

The migration to digital readership that eliminated reader service cards had a similar impact on leads. The pace of adding new names to the Interpower database dropped as engineers proved content to anonymously sift through catalogs, specifications and other product information online.

“Now that all of the information is on the Internet, the number of leads—it's getting more and more costly to get it,” Bright said. “Before we had the Internet, they really had to call us or send us a card. We were building our list, sometimes 1,000 to 3,000 [leads] a month. We're averaging 300 to 400 a month now.”

The international cord and cord-set supplier turned to such online tools as e-newsletters to expand its database. A marketing mix that two years ago saw 75% of the budget go to print advertising allocated only 40% to print for the current fiscal year, Bright said.

The company sponsors third-party e-newsletters that publishers such as GlobalSpec offer to engineers in exchange for registration. When engineers searching for components click on an Interpower advertisement, they are linked to the Interpower Web site and Interpower receives their contact information.

Bright sorts through the leads and hands them to his database specialist. The company mails the prospect a catalog and passes the contact information to a sales representative.

The core payoff: “My CFO comes into my office, and I can hand him names of people who click through; and then I can tie those names to people who have placed orders with us,” Bright said. “I can give him a tangible ROI.”

Interpower casts a wide net to gain new leads, Bright said, but the company also targets engineers within specific industry niches.

A general e-newsletter advertisement focuses on the overarching Interpower message, he said: “Let us be your warehouse. We have everything in stock. We can ship same day, that kind of thing. It's mainly our services that we market.”

The more qualified leads come from industry-specific publications, where more refined messages can resonate, he said.

“I get better quality names when I target 35,000 people designing medical products or manufacturing for servers,” he said. “I can get a lot more specific about my product when I drill down like that.”

He can also give his sales representatives specific information about the product the prospect viewed on the Web site. Once Interpower gains its prospects, the company works to convert them to an in-house newsletter, where content is king. “One of the things we've found is that our manufacturing newsletter needs to be a how-to,” Bright said. “It needs to solve a problem for the engineer, month after month.” The success doesn't mean Interpower has abandoned print. “Part of the reason I'm still in print is to make sure when [engineers] think about cord sets or shipping internationally, Interpower is the first thing in their head,” Bright said. M

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