Case | HBS Case Collection | November 1999 (Revised June 2006)

DLJdirect: "Putting Our Reputation Online"

by Thomas R. Eisenmann and Gillian Morris


Online broker DLJdirect faced two decisions during the fall of 1999: what customer segments should it target and how much should it spend on marketing? Unlike its competitors, who focused either on day traders or more mainstream investors, DLJdirect differentiated its service to meet the needs of self-directed, sophisticated, high net worth investors. But was DLJdirect forfeiting profits by not pursuing day traders? In the coming year, the ten largest online brokers were projected to spend $1.5 billion on marketing; E*Trade would lead the pack with a $300 million budget. DLJdirect was planning to spend $65 million on marketing in 1999, a 250% increase over the prior year. But would increased ad spending yield a positive long-term return as the marketing costs per new account doubled? And as advertising battles intensified, was a $65 million marketing budget big enough to allow DLJdirect to sustain its competitive position?

Keywords: Marketing Strategy; Marketing Communications; Competitive Strategy; Decision Choices and Conditions; Investment; Cost Management; Business Plan; Research and Development; Customers; Budgets and Budgeting; Online Advertising; Internet; Financial Services Industry;


Eisenmann, Thomas R., and Gillian Morris. DLJdirect: "Putting Our Reputation Online". Harvard Business School Case 800-164, November 1999. (Revised June 2006.)