Experian gears up for a new client: Experian

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Experian hopes to be the travel companion of 15,000 direct marketers with an ad campaign targeting attendees of the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference next week in New Orleans.

The $1.5 billion Orange, Calif.-based database marketer and credit information company hopes to put into practice the same kind of customer relationship management it pitches to clients by reaching its own clients -- direct marketers -- at various touch points before, during and after the conference.

The push, tagged "Charting your course," leverages the transportation theme with ads in New Orleans International Airport, on the sides of buses and on pop-up maps of the city.

"We're doing something unique to reach our clients, who are marketers themselves," said Patrick Bernardi, director of marketing communications at Experian. The idea it wants to convey to potential clients: "If we can reach you with a message, imagine what we can do when you're trying to do the same thing with your clients."


The advertising, created in-house, launched two weeks ago with a direct mail piece sent to 15,000 direct marketers pre-registered for the conference, inviting them to visit the Experian booth at the show. A post-show mailer will later be sent to conference attendees, including a survey asking about their experience at Experian's booth.

But the bulk of the marketing takes place in New Orleans, where visitors traveling by plane and using conference shuttle buses won't be able to miss Experian's campaign.

The company's $45,000 co-sponsorship with the DMA of shuttle-bus service between the Morial Convention Center and DMA-approved hotels is the fifth-highest ticket item for sponsors of the show, said Tana Stellato, VP-conference operations at the DMA, which started the sponsorship program in 1985.

"It's grown so much since then," Ms. Stellato said. "In 1985, we were happy getting five to seven companies giving us $500 to $700 to serve popcorn in the exhibit hall."

This year, Quebecor World Direct, New York, is paying $85,000 to sponsor the Oct. 16 opening session featuring Larry King, and the U.S. Postal Service is writing a check for $60,000 to have its name and logo on totes given to registrants.


"We can give [sponsors] a rich audience, a concentrated audience of direct marketers all in one place," said Ms. Stellato, who hopes to get $500,000 in sponsorships for this year's event. "I think they've figured out that their [advertising] focus should be at our show."

"Whoever owns a customer relationship wins," said Experian's Mr. Bernardi. "You need to be aggressive, and you need to be conscientious, and you need to pay attention to every touch point."

Experian's first point of contact with show attendees in New Orleans will occur at the airport, via banners and signage at baggage claim and throughout the terminal. The ads show a suit-clad businessman carrying a briefcase as he walks through mountains, with a map of the world in the background.

The "Charting your course" tagline appears on all executions, including the bus-side ads with the headline, "Going somewhere?" followed by: "Experian has the innovative marketing solutions to take you there . . . and beyond. Hop on board. We'll take you where you want to go."

Bus riders also will receive pop-up maps co-sponsored by the DMA and Experian. The cover of the map features the same ad along with the copy: "Count on Experian for a clear direction."


The ads and map also include a call to action, inviting attendees to stop by the Experian booth. There visitors can watch a video featuring spokeswoman Cheryl Ladd and participate in a virtual reality experience that features the same businessman from the ads, navigating participants through a 4-minute overview of the company.

The campaign "conveys a sense of energy and empowerment," Mr. Bernardi said. The message is "We understand that you are an individual and you are tasked with a specific job. Experian can help you."

"We're going to be the same kind of aggressive, caring, knowing-you marketer that we tell our customers to be," Mr. Bernardi said, hoping the campaign will leave direct marketers thinking: "If they can talk to me like that, they can help me talk to my customers like that."

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