Mr. Fallis, 55, is VP-sales and marketing of BlackVoices.com, an African-American-targeted site. On sales calls, he's barely through the door before he pulls out stacks of statistics about the penetration, reach and frequency of BlackVoices.com, which combines job recruitment and lifestyle content on its site.
Mr. Fallis already has successfully pitched the site as a must-have ad buy to top national advertisers such as General Motors Corp., Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's Corp. and Mobil Oil Corp. On the job recruitment ad side, "significant" packages have been sold to Boeing Co., Motorola Corp. and Pfizer, among others.
BlackVoices.com, a division of Tribune Co., ended 1999 with almost $3 million in sales. This year, Mr. Fallis projects ad sales to be between $7 million and $10 million, and doubling that in 2001.
"All of the advertisers that are now on BlackVoices.com are there by sheer force of Mel Fallis' will," says Lary Tuckett, director of ethnic marketing, Luminant Worldwide, New York, which has placed some of its clients, including Maybelline, Showtime Networks and the U.S. Army, on the site. "Mel is a strategic thinker. He's very aware of what advertisers are looking for. He also knows BlackVoices.com is not just about reaching the [African-American] consumer, but it's about building a relationship with that consumer."
As Mr. Fallis puts it directly: "African-Americans use the Internet differently from the rest of the population. They want a community they can be part of."
The upscale audience for BlackVoices.com is comprised of 86% college graduates; the average user age is 32. Household income ranges from $48,000 to $60,000, and the site has definite female appeal, with women comprising 65% of site visitors.
"What we've done is create the right balance of news, entertainment and offline events to maintain and grow this valuable segment," says Mr. Fallis. "We listen to what our community tells us."
As audited by I/PRO, BlackVoices.com captures 17 million page views and 1.6 million unique visits per month.
"We're fairly big players in the Internet space as a whole and certainly a dominant player in [the African-American] space," he says.
Part of Mr. Fallis' advertising plan for the site is a pyramid structure. "The bottom is the base business [with advertisers] who just want to be on the site for maybe a month or so. [The peak] I'm calling Strategic Alliance Partners, advertisers who want multi-year, multimillion-dollar deals that call for us to build them an entirely separate, proprietary content area," Mr. Fallis says.
Strategic Alliance Partners start at $1 million, and this month, Mr. Fallis hopes to announce the first partner, General Motors Corp. General Motors' GM eMediaworks declined comment.
Mr. Fallis has been involved with advertising and marketing management for more than three decades, beginning his career in 1968 with account management at J. Walter Thompson Co., New York. In 1970, he moved to Lever Bros., handling brand management of the consumer-products marketer's bar soap group, including Lifebuoy and Lux.
After working on Coca-Cola Co. projects in the `70s, he returned to New York as exec VP-chief operating officer of UniWorld Communications.
"I took the skills I learned in new business development and strategic thinking and put them toward building the agency like a brand," he says.
"Mel is solid on the business side, he is solid on the advertising side, and he knows how to reach the African-American consumer," says Mr. Lewis.M