SaaS Startup Offers Marketing Help

By Dan Muse | Posted November 28, 2007

Ridgely Evers, CEO and founder of NetBooks, has an owinteresting take on how small businesses approach marketing: "Most small businesses are not great at accounting, so they hand it off [to an accountant]. Most are not great at marketing, but don't hand it off."

If you follow Evers' logic, that means that most small businesses have either no marketing plan or have a marketing plan that's not very good. NetBooks, a startup company that has its sights set on the Web-based accounting and business-management market, wants to let you tap marketing expertise as you might tap accounting expertise — that is, by allowing trained professionals inside your data.

To achieve that, Evers said that NetBooks is partnering with Duct Tape Marketing, a company that specializes in small business marketing. The goal of the collaboration, according to Evers, is to "combine the rich business data captured in the NetBooks system with the marketing know-how of the Duct Tape Marketing Coaches."

What kinds of questions can Duct Tape Marketing help you answer? Evers said that common things small businesses need to know include, "Does your pricing make sense? Who are your best customers? Who are your worst customers?"


 

NetBooks, which Evers said is finding success with small businesses in the manufacturing sector, is designed to offer small businesses an integrated service for managing sales, marketing, inventory, production and bookkeeping. The approach is similar to that of NetSuite. However, NetBooks is considerably less expensive and aimed at significantly smaller businesses.

Even the smallest of businesses collect data on their customers. Using that data effectively is where Duct Tape Marketing can help. Business owners and Duct Tape Marketing coaches can work together, Evers said, to make informed marketing decisions any time, even from thousands of miles apart.

Evers admits that you could work with Duct Tape Marketing (or any consultant you choose) and Salesforce.com, NetSuite.com or any other Web-based application. The difference, he said, that NetBooks customers will receive a free account for their Duct Tape Marketing coach consultant (additional accounts are usually $20 a month). That means you and your marketing advisors share a common, real-time view of customer information, marketing campaigns and sales results.

This "trusted advisor" approach is similar to the way a small business might provide access to its bookkeeper or accountant, Evers said. "Just as you work with a CPA, think of this as working with a CMA — certified marketing advisor."

In October, NetBooks announced integration with VerticalResponse's e-mail marketing and direct mail services. And that's particularly relevant to the Duct Tape Marketing partnership, Evers said. "The first step is to have the data. The second step is learn how to use the data," Evers said.

With a shared view of customer information, product pricing and descriptions, account activity, and sales activity, Duct Tape Marketing coaches and business owners can work together to create campaigns. "We worked with Vertical Response to add results of e-mail marketing campaigns to NetBooks. For example, you can see if a key customer just unsubscribed from your e-mail newsletter." Then you pick up the phone, Evers said.

Vertical Response's pricing is based on the number of e-mails sent. For example, according to Vertical Response's Web site, sending 1 to 1,000 e-mails cost 15 cents per e-mail. The prices drops to 1 cent per e-mail for 25,001 - 50,000 e-mails. E-mail creation, list building, list cleansing and campaign reporting are all free, according the company.

VerticalResponse says that it requires no contracts, monthly or hosting fees, or startup costs. NetBooks customers will also receive a 15 percent discount on all purchases, Evers said.

In addition to a free account for Duct Tape Marketing, the partnership also results in new content being integrated into NetBooks. That information is designed to provide new ideas and strategies for growth. The cost for the time spent working with a Duct Tape Marketing coach is additional.

The NetBooks costs $200/month, which includes up to five users (and $20 per person, per month for additional users). In addition to a free account for Duct Tape Marketing coaches, NetBooks also provides free access for a bookkeeper and an accountant.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel, EarthWeb's Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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