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BizReport : Internet : July 20, 2000

Exclusive Interview with Bob Heyman, Founder and CEO, E-Marketing Partners

Before Bob Heyman became an Internet marketing guru, he was a music industry lawyer whose "formerly famous" clients included Jefferson Starship and Doors member Rob Manzarek. "Over those years, I got somewhat of a reputation as a music lawyer who knew something about marketing" he says. That knowledge paid off when he founded Cybernautics, one of the first Internet marketing consulting firms, and later sold it to US Web in 1997. "During that year, I noticed they were churning clients, and the employees were leaving" he recalls. "So I was able to hire 10 of my old people, get my old offices back, and essentially re-open for business."

by Michael Grebb, Special Correspondent

That re-opening became E-Marketing Partners, which pushes the "second generation" of online marketing to go beyond driving eyeballs and focus instead on relationship marketing. The company just forged a strategic alliance with Catenas to increase its presence in Europe and gain access to other potential partners in Catenas' portfolio of holdings. As the field of e-marketing consultants continues to get more and more crowded, Heyman says his firm will use alliances and other means to stand out. In an interview with BizReport, Heyman laid out his vision of the future.

MG: What's the end-game with the Catenas strategic partnership? Where do you see it going ultimately?

BH: The companies are just now beginning to collaborate. My idea was not to sell out but to find a deep-pocketed partner with which to exploit opportunities. It always seemed like a [venture capital firm] would buy 30 or 40 percent of you and not provide any synergy with any other companies--but you kept your brand. Or a US Web bought you out, you lost your brand, and the founders would leave. Catenas is really meant to be a different path in which the parent can go public under European tradition in which the company doesn't need to own 100 percent of the company to realize revenue. It comes from buying 20 to 50 percent of a basket of great companies.

MG: And, of course, you get more of an insider track in Europe.

BH: Well, part of it is certainly to be global more than we might have been otherwise.

MG: What does that mean from a competitive standpoint?

BH: We think our sister companies are positioned as market leaders, especially on the high-end strategy and practices end. But we are only a year and half old. We're 15 people trying to be 30 to 40 people in the next 18 months. We face the challenge of catching up with some of the companies that came before. It's funny. It's kind of like catching up with one's self. Cybernautics was really the market leader. There were companies that followed in those footsteps. We see ourselves as second generation. We're now doing a whole new invention of it.

MG: What are some of the biggest mistakes companies have made in the past and how can this "second generation" of e-business consulting help them?

BH: Spending one's marketing budget intelligently is item one. We're actually working with some VCs to provide a marketing due diligence methodology. VCs are now sitting with a lot of money that they're a little scared to invest--at least without kicking the tires more thoroughly than they were before. They previously would hear, `We'll spend $3 million dollars on marketing, and this much on banners, and we'll get this many eyeballs,' and they would say, `fine.' Now, we're trying to help them do a reality check. What are plausible click-through rates? What are plausible sell-throughs? Should you spend money on banners instead of targeted direct email? On this same theme, we're asking whether you should do a marketing post-mortem on some of the early failures like, and

MG: Many of the dot coms now faltering seemed to spend large amounts of money on mass marketing. Is targeted marketing the only way to go?

BH: Well, it's realizing that click-through doesn't mean anything unless it sells through to something. An amazing amount of targeted direct emails out there don't have an offer or a call to action. There are some traditional marketing disciplines that didn't seem to matter for a while. We're past the point in which `Click Here' is good creative. The great differentiator between the Web and other marketing media is the degree to which you can track it. The thing that's amazing is how few sites do anything with the data that they collect. Or they don't look at redoing the site in response to where people go, or testing different offers.

MG: How specifically can Web sites better utilize customer data?

BH: Well, many companies don't look at it all. It's so overwhelming to have it, and they're so worried about getting from last week to this week, that nobody looks at it at all. There's an opportunity to mine your data and determine trends. The challenge for us is to go from audience development to relationship marketing. It's a challenge for us and our clients to analyze last week's data and come up with next week's campaign. The more we can automate that, we can get very smart very quickly on behalf of the client.

MG: Here's the last question: What's the tougher business: The Internet or the music industry?

BH: Easy answer. The music business is a much tougher business because it's more like going to Vegas and hoping you come up with the big winner.

MG: Some people would use Vegas to describe the Internet sector.

BH: It may get like that. But the virtue of a generally good business idea is that it gets rewarded. Most talented musicians don't get the lucky break.

Tags: marketing

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