Given the convergence in many b-to-b business media companies of print publications, online properties and trade shows, defining business relationships with customers is crucial, agreed participants in the session on "Key B-to-B Issues and Opportunities." Primedia Inc. produced the conference.
VNU Business Media Inc. has a policy governing internal use of customers' phone, fax and e-mail information to guard against one group using another's customer information without permission, said Toni Nevitt, exec VP-eMedia & Information marketing.
Without such a policy, she warned, "it's viral marketing with no control. If you have a relationship with someone and they opt-out, and their e-mail is in six places within the company, it becomes impossible to control." The result can be damaged customer relationships, she said.
The panelists advised using opt-out e-mail policies rather than the more conservative opt-in. "It's risk vs. reward," said Francis Heid, VP-publishing operations at Advanstar Communications. "For every three [e-mail addresses] I get, every two say 'don't rent,'" he said.
Gloria Adams, director-corporate audience development at PennWell Publishing, joked, "If we went to double opt-in, which is now being pushed, we'd have five e-mail addresses to use."