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AT&T Business Services ads follow protocol

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AT&T may be a well-known brand in long distance, but until recently, it didn’t have the same mindshare for its Internet protocol products.

"From a business perspective, we needed to move our customers perceptions from [AT&T] being a long-distance, voice-centric company to the IP data space," said Dawn DiMartino, advertising and direct marketing director of AT& T Business Services, Basking Ridge, N.J.

To change this perception, AT&T turned to Foote Cone & Belding, New York, which won the business services account last October. "We wanted to reposition AT&T as a recognized provider of e-business solutions and IP data," said Peggy Kennedy, senior VP-group management director at FCB.

AT&Ts business services include Web hosting, virtual private networks, managed services and IP packet services. To gain awareness of these services among decision-making and decision-influencing business executives, FCB devised an integrated marketing campaign that included print ads, direct mail, online advertising and mini-sites, all integrated with an AT&T call center.

Layering it on

Keys to the success of the campaign, Kennedy said, were the sequence of the integrated marketing efforts, with each step of the campaign building on the previous, and the ability to track activity and optimize the campaign along the way.

"We wanted to have a response medium to drive qualified leads and drive revenue," Kennedy said. But first, "we launched an awareness campaign that would provide air coverage for our direct response programs," she added.

The first ads ran in January, with a series of print ads in national newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, business publications such as Forbes and Fortune, and trade books such as InformationWeek and ComputerWorld.

In February, AT&T began banner advertising on sites including ZDNet.com and InfoWorld.com, and Foote Cone & Belding helped create marketing mini-sites for the different services.

With the tagline of "Innovative networks, innovative thinking," the first phase of the ad campaign was a branding vehicle designed to build awareness of AT&T as a leader in the IP data space. Later ads focused on specific services, such as Web hosting and high-speed packet services.

The print ads had an 800-number and Web site address driving traffic to specific services. This allowed AT&T to track the ongoing effectiveness of each vehicle. For example, it learned that unless there was a major news event in a city in which ads were running, such as the opening of a new AT&T data center, local newspaper ads didnt pay off, so they were dropped.

A direct approach

Direct mail pieces to about 700,000 targeted business executives shipped six weeks after the branding ads began, and included case studies of satisfied AT&T clients and a gift offer of a hand-held global positioning system if the respondent met with a sales rep or asked for a proposal.

"It was a way to start to validate the database," Kennedy said. "Then we moved into more sophisticated database modeling."

The next wave of direct mail, which was sent out after the agency targeted people and companies with a propensity to buy certain products, had specific product information on services such as virtual private networks.

Judging by the response, the campaignbudget undisclosedcan be deemed a success. AT&T received 40,000 responses to the campaign, 8,000 leads and nearly 300 sales, for a total of about $3 million in new revenue.

The campaign also bolstered brand awareness. At the end of the campaign in June, the awareness level of AT&T as an e-business networking solution provider went up 12 points to 79% from 67%. Preference share, which is a gauge of respondents having a greater disposition to buy AT&T products, went up 7 percentage points, with each point representing $434 million in revenue opportunity, for a total of $3 billion in new revenue opportunity.

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