A Chat with John Economaki, Founder and President, Br
CS: Have you done anything then, toward new customer acquisition?
JE: Well, a little bit. We're doing a little bit of missionary work. I'm now starting to believe in computer-aided design programs. We're trying to get out there to designers. But then you still get down to the, "How's it going to get made?" question. There's just been a lot of erosion in the market. It's still fun though. We're doing some e-mail/Internet marketing, referral marketing, pass this on to a friend, viral marketing sort of thing, I guess you'd call it. We're not doing a lot in print any more. The flyers/books that we make, 80 percent of those go to buyers. The circ[ulation] is fairly small. The remaining 20 percent, we're try to get this prospect cell to work. Our best efforts have come from compiled lists. We work with Abacus, we're still able to prospect profitably with Abacus. We don't risk much anymore, though. I used to do a 5,000 name desk cell, and if the numbers came back black, I'd order 100,000. I didn't bother with all of those statistical significance rules. I wanted to grow fast, so I ignored a few best practices. And I think those were good decisions. It worked. But now I won't do it anymore.
CS: Have you had any mentors?
JE: Yes, many, but only one in this industry - Herschell Gordon Lewis. We've never met, but he understands the power of writing for the direct market channel, and I devour his suggestions and insights. I think everybody in this industry should read his books and columns.
CS: Why is that?
JE: If you're in the direct marketing industry, what do you have to get people to make your phone ring? You've got images and you've got words. The image is probably of less importance than the words. I'm shocked that people don't spend more time trying to make the words more important. I really anticipate looking forward to what Lewis has to say. I feel like no one knows how to write anymore. If you don't know anything, you're probably not going to read Herschell Gordon Lewis. I look at writing as a craft. I like Hemingway's quote, "If it was easy to read, it was hard to write." That's so true. When you look at what your market demands from you, you have to write something you know they will read. I like reading my own stuff.