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Oct 13, 2000
Interview

LivePerson.com's VP Marketing Larry Wasserman on International Expansion

SUMMARY: No summary available.
We first met LivePerson's VP Marketing Larry Wasserman at trade show about a year ago and were struck by his air of practicality. He's not a guy who wants to spout theory for hours on end. He's somebody who focuses on what works and gets the job done. Which may be why now almost 1,000 of the Web's larger players, from Intuit to proflowers.com use LivePerson's eCRM solutions.

Q: You guys just bought an Israeli company, HumanClick who specialize in providing solutions to small businesses. What's up with that?

Wasserman: It gets us into the small biz market, HumanClick has over 100,000 downloaded clients. It also opens up opportunities for 3rd party distribution. For example Yahoo Stores could offer their clients these low-cost customer service solutions services as a tool.

HumanClick also have a number of users who are bigger companies with more than one or two operators who may need the more robust solutions found in LivePerson. So there are potential opportunities to move them to our solution.

Q: What were HumanClick's marketing tactics?

HumanClick had only done a limited print campaign. They were growing quickly based on viral word-of-mouth.

Q: Wow, 100,000 clients from word of mouth!

Wasserman: Yeah, well they were giving away the solution for free in order to build market share. Their plan was to begin charging in 2001 which is only a few months away. We're not going to change anything immediately.

There's an opportunity to offer HumanClick clients additional functionality at a cost. The initial free application provides the stickiness so to speak. Then as they begin to use it more we upsell them.

Q: This summer you opened an office outside London; and HumanClick's based in Israel with clients in 60 countries -- looks like you are going international with a vengeance! What are your marketing tactics overseas and how is it different from marketing in the US?

Wasserman: We're about to break a print campaign in the UK that's based on one of our creatives from our original launch campaign in the US last year. I don't know if you remember that ad where we put a shopping cart on a raft? I was over in the UK and the feeling was it was a very strong ad for there. We rewrote the copy in the Queen's English. It's running in Business 2.0 over there, the new European Industry Standard, the UK version of Revolution magazine, Internet Business, Winning Business, plus some CRM trades. My goal was to hit the leading industry trades plus CRM ones.

We've also already started hitting conferences. Conferences overseas are not the same big staged events as they are here. We just did one in Birmingham England in September that had about 8,000 attendees -- but the traffic was light on the show floor. Our booth generated a lot of noise though. We had a life-size trolley (which is what they call a shopping cart) and raffled off a dingy (what they call a raft.)

But in general there are not as many conference in Europe as there are here and they tend to be more on the small side -- the content's the focus. We're at an eretailing show next week and then that's pretty much it until next quarter. In the States it seems like there's a big conference every week!

We're also telemarketing now in the UK. Most prospects have never heard of us. We're using an outsourced service to qualify the list and the to determine if there's any interest in either more information or scheduling an appointment. We've also hired people in the UK to do client service for the rest of Europe -- they speak Italian, French, German.

Q: Are you adding sections to your site for other countries?

Wasserman: We're working on a redesign of the site now. The plan is to develop an international section where we'll craft various language versions. There won't be different full-blown sites at this point though.

Q: Where do you see the biggest opportunity overseas?

Wasserman: We still think there's significant growth in Europe and we're really starting to see significant demand in the Latin American market as well. We have sales people who speak Spanish and Portuguese. The question is whether we'll need to set up a local presence there.

The sales cycle does require more physical contact overseas. In the US people are more amenable to telephone and email. In the UK business is still conducted a little more formally. It still requires more personal contact development.

Note: Next week, Wasserman discusses his media buying tactics; why he won't put any more ads in the Wall Street Journal; and, how he helps his sales team find highly qualified leads.

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