MRM Partners Worldwide named 'BtoB's' direct agency of the year

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MRM Partners Worldwide, the relationship marketing agency of McCann Erickson Worldgroup, has been named BtoB's Direct Agency of the Year based on its growth in b-to-b business, new client wins, outstanding campaigns and expansion into strategic services.

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The agency, part of the Interpublic Group of Cos., has 64 offices in 37 countries and more than 1,600 employees worldwide. B-to-b work represents 50% to 60% of its total business. Its clients include Microsoft Corp., United Parcel Service of America, Advanced Micro Devices, Dell Computer Corp. and Overture.

MRM had several major achievements in 2003 and 2004, including new business from Microsoft, Avaya and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and other b-to-b clients.

Earlier this year, Microsoft decided to consolidate all its customer relationship marketing work with MRM and Wunderman, which is part of the Y&R Group of Cos. Microsoft has been an MRM client since 1999.

Under the agency consolidation, MRM will handle CRM campaigns for Microsoft Windows Client, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Business Applications and some corporate work. The assignment is estimated to be worth between $200 million and $250 million in additional billings.

"It is a fundamental change in the way Microsoft is going to market," said Michael McLaren, exec VP-director of global accounts on the worldwide Microsoft business for McCann Worldgroup. "The ability to run direct marketing programs globally and to create consistent calls to action, consistent messaging structures and demand-generation programs-and track those programs on a global basis-is something they have never been able to do before." Previously, Microsoft worked with multiple agencies around the globe on its relationship marketing programs.

One of the first direct campaigns for Microsoft under the new assignment was an integrated program launched in August called Microsoft Mid-Market Advisor Portal.

"It was a very impactful communications program that involved a call center, direct mail, online and launching a new portal," said Pam Larrick, chairman of MRM Partners Worldwide.

The objective of the campaign was to provide product and service information to Microsoft's mid-market customers on the company's Web site and through a call center.

For the assignment, MRM created a new information portal for technology decision-makers, prepared content for the

Microsoft call center team and developed an e-mail program.

The e-mail program, which featured a link to the new portal, had a 50% open rate and a 27% click-through rate.

This month, Avaya named MRM Partners New York its agency of record to handle relationship marketing in the U.S. and internationally. Avaya is a global provider of business communications systems.

The agency will handle creative and strategic responsibilities for all Avaya's acquisition and sales channel activities. McCann Erickson Worldwide New York has been Avaya's advertising agency of record for the U.S. and internationally since 2002.

"B-to-b is very important to us," Larrick said. "As we've been growing, b-to-b has been a big catalyst for our growth."

Last year, MRM developed an online program for Nikon aimed at commercial photographers to generate awareness and drive sales. The campaign included product demos, customer testimonials and stunning graphics.

One of MRM's key strengths is its dedication to analytics and ROI measurement.

"Our clients are under the gun to show a return on marketing investment," said Joseph McGee, exec VP-worldwide account director for MRM Partners Worldwide. "We help clients drive sales effectiveness by putting programs in place that optimize relationships between marketing and sales."

For example, MRM Partners' Miller Starr marketing database and analytics unit, based in London, created a global b-to-b database program for Dell to use in its targeted catalog mailings, direct mail and e-mail communications.

The program has now been implemented in 21 countries and supports all areas of b-to-b marketing, including prospecting, transactions and partnership marketing.

"What has made MRM so successful in the b-to-b space is that we look at the sales force as a constituency," said Reuben Hendell, CEO of MRM Partners Worldwide.

"To drive sales force effectiveness, you have to understand the right levers to pull and you have to build competencies for the sales force."

Hendell said MRM uses intranets, extranets, e-mail and online programs to build customizable experiences not only for its clients' customers but also for their sales forces and other employees.

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