Editor’s note: CharlotteBeat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.New Way Media pays the bills constructing business Web sites, but starting January 1, the four-person firm launches its Web Accelerated Marketing (WAM) services that it hopes will grow the company substantially.

Marc Pitre and his partner Alison Pearce, vice president of operations, founded New Way Media in 1999 but it started full-time operations only in October 2002. They took on a small investor in March. Pitre says the total investment to date is under $100,000. “We’re in negotiations with a high net-worth investor seeking $250,000 to help launch WAM,” Pitre tells Local Tech Wire. “We don’t see the need to go beyond that. We don’t see the need to raise a million and we like the way we’re running things now.”

Pitre says New Way has been testing its WAM tools package for the last three months. “We’ve been doing both internal and pilot company testing. We may have spent more time than we should have testing, but we’re ready to kick-off January 1 knowing we’re ready.”

New Way constructed a proprietary product called “Plugs and Sockets,” that Pitre says simplifies using the WAM tools.

The tools include email marketing, the ability to conduct online surveys or sweepstakes, make online feedback forms, and meter the effectiveness of online ad campaigns by tracking click-throughs from ads on other sites.

Easy to use

The WAM software starts at $50 a month and goes up to thousands if needed.

For Web sites, New Way says, “We can put together a package with full installation from $3,900 for a custom-developed site with a branded look and feel.”

Pitre explains that the tools give clients functions to “help acquire, maintain and communicate with customers.

“I can’t believe how simple it is to use,” says Pitre. “You just tell WAM a few things about your site, background color, font, etc., and add a line of code to your site. Then that module can be used to a survey, sweepstakes, feedback form or other tools.”

Pitre says New Way uses four full-time programmers in Lebanon in addition to its four U.S. employees. “The overhead of keeping programmers is more than we want to bite off at the moment.”

New Way built designed and planned its WAM product here, but ships the hard core programming to the Lebanon operation. “We estimate we built WAM for a quarter – probably less – than what U.S. programmers quoted or we could do internally.”

He says out-sourcing is not without its problems, such as the time language differences. “They speak good English,” says Pitre, “but if you use slang or meanings we take for granted, they don’t understand.” The company now has the Lebanon operation work in shifts so they can communicate on U.S. time and he makes an effort to communicate more precisely with the Lebanese. “If the word isn’t in the dictionary, I don’t use it,” he says.

“In the wrong business”

Pitre moved to Charlotte in 1995 and worked doing film production. Then he started a Web site in 1996 for wireless and telecom recruiting.

“That garnered so much attention in industry magazines, people started calling me for to build Web sites instead of about the recruiting, and I realized I was in the wrong business,” Pitre says.

New Way likes to partner with advertising agencies and has done much of its work with a next-door neighbor, the JC Thomas Agency. It also works with Elberson, Senger and Shuler, Selective Marketing, and Strickland & Co. in Charlotte and BtB Marketing in Raleigh.

Pitre says the WAM product in particular gives ad agencies a way to reclaim the chunk of marketing that moved from traditional means such as direct mail to the Internet. “We don’t have the vanity to say we need to own a customer. If they want the customer to know we’re involved that’s fine or we’ll do it on the QT, it’s up to them.”

The business and marketing use of the Internet are really just beginning, Pitre suggests.

“I think we’re at the tip of the iceberg in terms of Net use to drive revenue and to acquire and retain customers. More and more companies are using the Net daily and all are using email. Every company of any size has a Web site. We’re certainly seeing a growth of interest in tools that make the site do something.

“What’s coming is a more attainable Internet in terms of the costs and making those tools more available to smaller and mid-sized businesses. They’re using the Net for its efficiencies to complement their traditional business.

New Way Media: newwaymedia.com