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RealTime IT News

DotPlanet.com Takes On Top Tier Services

DotPlanet.com contends it can rival top tier Internet service providers and Web portals by offering average American's a unique blend of technology with a human touch.

The new firm last week launched its bold business initiative designed to provide face-to-face support for access to its ISP services, as well as its general information and financial service Web portals.

DotPlanet.com is positioning its Internet services to take on America Online Inc. (AOL), and Prodigy Communications Corp. (PRGY) through its in-house technical support offering to subscribers. The firm figures it will rival Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) with its Web portal by instilling brand loyalty in its Web-novice customer base.

Atlanta-based DotPlanet.com formed alliances with several key companies to lure people who are not online into becoming Web participants in its business venture. The firm provides nationwide dial-up access through a strategic alliance with MCI WorldCom Inc. (WCOM) . Through its deal with direct marketer Zillionaire.com Inc., it's constructed a DotPlanet.com lifestyle Web destination portal.

John Benham, Zillionaire.com chief marketing officer, said its target audience made DotPlanet.com an intriguing partner in the Internet e-commerce marketplace.

"Our target audience is the vast unwired of America. All they need to realize the incredible potential of the Internet is someone to walk them through step-by-step and help overcome any barriers they may have," Benham said.

DotPlanet.com operates an integrated sales force of more 30,000 Internet Associates. Its I-Associate army provides face-to-face Internet coaching to demonstrate the power of the Internet and to promote the user's comfort with Web usage.

Benham added that DotPlanet.com is the only ISP of national scale to opt for human distribution of its services over traditional marketing channels.

"The true power of our business model is the ability of our I-Associates to penetrate all markets and show the power of the advanced, yet easy to use technology of the DotPlanet site and services," Benham continued. "As the only ISP that is distributed primarily through human interaction rather than a direct mail campaign, the service is bridging touch and technology."

By catering to first-time users, the company becomes an intimate support system for new users to overcome their fears of technology. The marketing plan substitutes the enormous advertising expense typically associated with e-commerce start-up ventures with the expense of sending one-on-one support to subscribers' homes.

DotPlanet.com believes that it will instill brand-loyalty within its thankful subscriber base through personalized care provided by its technical sales force.

DotPlanet.com was founded in January and is led by President Jonathan W. Berger, who must orchestrate the company's quest toward becoming a leader in the emerging Internet economy. Berger served as partner in charge of KPMG International's corporate finance practice in the Southeast for nine years.

Berger said his experience with KPMG has offered him the opportunity to learn from other Web companies mistakes.

"In 17 years of investment banking, I've seen a lot of companies fail despite costly marketing and advertising efforts," Berger said. "Wha