A year ago, Harriet Donnelly quit handing out promotional literature at trade shows. "It's a waste of money," says the senior vice-president of Imedia, a $3.5-million marketing company in Morristown, N.J. Donnelly figures that more than half of her $3 brochures were left in hotel rooms or stayed in tote bags. Her solution: an on-site fax-back service.

Donnelly takes two notebook computers to each show -- one loaded with database software, the other with fax software and a modem. Prospects type their own names and addresses into her database, then move to the second computer, where they select from an on-screen form those items that interest them. Imedia faxes the material directly to the prospects' offices.

People who request information that way are usually very good leads, says Donnelly. They've invested their time on the computers rather than merely dropping business cards into a bowl for a prize drawing. Meanwhile, Donnelly builds her database more efficiently than she could if she had to depend on an employee back in Imedia's office to enter the information. And when she spots hot leads at a show, she can send data via electronic mail directly to Imedia's sales reps. After only one year and six trade shows, her database has grown to 6,000 names.

"It ends up being very, very cheap to fax something back versus having stuff thrown out," says Donnelly, who pays about $300 for a trade-show phone line and less than $1 per fax. Since she began sending brochures only to prospects who use the fax-back service, she has cut her printing costs by one-third. -- Robina A. Gangemi

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