Brad Mehl

Nearly three years have passed since Thomas Publishing Co. migrated its Thomas Register directory from a more static print product into, an online, interactive resource for engineers, purchasing managers and other industrial professionals. In that time, the team has developed a host of online marketing and educational communication vehicles to engage its target audience, including a blog, e-mail newsletters and an Internet newsroom. And since no direct marketer makes big, or even little, changes without testing, the online publisher also has been fine-tuning its process of site optimization. This week, Target Marketing Tipline talks to Brad Mehl, vice president, marketing, about’s online

Thomas Publishing Co. is no stranger to innovation. During its 108-year history, this privately owned business that connects industrial buyers with suppliers consistently has made decisions (such as employing one of the first independent contractor sales forces) that proved well ahead of their time. The company’s move to create a fully Web-based industrial directory in 2004 was no exception. After celebrating the 100th anniversary of its traditional “green books”—the Thomas Register print directory of industrial sellers—executives ceased the print publication and went to the Internet. There was just one “small” challenge: It needed to bring its users along. Historically understated in its marketing, Thomas felt

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