Web spurs offline ideas

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Online direct marketing pro-viders are making it easier and more efficient for large national companies to maintain consistent brand messages in their franchisees' mail and on-site marketing efforts.

Zipm, Chicago, has expanded its zipm.com program to franchise marketers. The site allows small businesses to execute localized direct mail campaigns. Last January, zipm.com began offering private-label, secured sites that enable clients such as Domino's Pizza-with more than 600 stores nationwide-to use the Web to manage their conventional direct mail campaigns. Franchisees can find on the marketer's site within zipm.com the creative template and specifics for each direct campaign.

"It's very powerful because you allow local targeted marketing while also creating very strong central brand management," said Zipm President Ray Anderson. "If you have field marketing people spread all over the country, the brand manager can create the general message and specify the branded aspects of the campaign, and allow the local marketers to execute it."

Privately held Zipm, which is not yet profitable, charges a fee to marketers to execute campaigns, and assumes processing and postage costs.

MAKING SIGNS VIA WEB

Traditional media operations like signage company Britten Media, Traverse City, Mich., also are providing marketers with online systems for creating and executing campaigns. Britten, which sells banners for one-to-one marketing at events, launched BannerGalaxy.com in July.

"We realized that if we could automate the entire front end of this business, and allow the customer to pick up the pre-approved artwork online and customize his own banner online, that it would deliver tremendous efficiency to our customer," said Britten CEO Paul Britten.

BannerGalaxy's clients include Choice Hotels, Kiwanis Interna-tional and Labatt USA, and it's currently in final negotiations with a major soft-drink company and automaker.

Clients sign on as "planets"-defined by individual URLs like labattbanner.com-within Banner-Galaxy's network. From the company-specific sites, local affiliates can access archived and approved artwork when creating customized signage for local events. For Labatt, which has 900 wholesalers and distributors in North America, the site ensures brand consistency.

"Beyond convenience, the No. 1 reason for using this type of a system was that it was a central source for our banner purchases," said Joe Warnstedt, graphics manager at Labatt. "We can go through and make sure that the approved templates are creating the correct brand message and that the brand equities are protected."

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