Toll Free Consultant Stages A Guerrilla Launch

Judith Oppenheimer, a well known expert who tracks the national and international technical developments of the emerging telecom marketplace, had a wealth of strategic intelligence that needed packaging. First she sent out e-mail and fax notices to her database of contacts which eventually became ICB Toll Free News. In 1994, she put it up on a web site (http://www.icbtollfree.com) and as on most other sites on the web, the information was free.

Traffic rose to 3,000 hits a day which raised her operating costs, so Oppenheimer decided to charge $199 a year for unlimited access beginning in September of this year. People are invited to sign up at the Web site for a 15 day free trial. To stimulate return visits, subscribers as well as trial subscribers receive headlines by e-mail two times a week.

For those who don’t have the time to go online there’s a weekly five-page edition for an additional fifty dollars a year. Oppenheimer picks the most interesting items added to the web site that week for her fax readers. "We obviously can’t send them everything but we can keep them abreast of the issues. Even in the telecommunications field," Oppenheimer told MWT, "there are executives working without a computer or people who have their secretaries print out their e-mail. And, of course, there are people who are too busy to go to our web site. I wanted something more proactive for these types." Oppenheimer signed up with Sprint’s free service on Friday program which is the day the fax edition is broadcast from her PC.

ICB Toll Free’s paid subscriber base is small, but impressive for the two months that Oppenheimer has switched to charging for her content. Trying to keep even her marketing electronic, Oppenheimer has done a test e-mailing. "We’ve gotten a small amount of trial subscribers from an e-mail promotion to a rented "opt-in" list," she said "but it’s hard to find good e-mail lists." She may, ultimately, have to use direct mail.

(Contact: Judith Oppenheimer, ICB Toll Free News, 212-684-7210, e-mail: joppenheimer@icbtollfree.com)