A Chat With January's Profile, Brendan Edgerton, vice president of direct marketing, Crutchfield Co. (Text & Audio)
CS: What's been done at Crutchfield to offset the rising costs associated with mailing catalogs?
BE: If you'd asked me six to eight months ago, I was of the ilk, and I would share with our vendors, “We plan to mail through this. We're not going to make aggressive changes; there's not going to be a major tug on the wheel to the left or right of the road here.” We've been through these things before; we've been through four economic downturns. Fortunately with the strength of consumer electronics, the strength of our customer base, we've been able to rise from each of those downturns a stronger business on the back side.
Now, I think there are some components to the new economics of direct marketing that make it unfeasible for certain segments of your file or certain activities that had been able to endure lower costs. We're taking a good hard look at lots of different things. In addition to paper and postage, I think privacy is kind of that third “p” out there that's rearing its head right now, and something we all have to be focused on as mailers — those three constraints on the business. Obviously you get more efficient through things like co-mail. Hopefully more and more folks are taking advantage of those. You give up things that you might have embraced earlier, such as a unique trim size or certain basis weight. We do all those routine things to maximize efficiency. But I think order allocation becomes very important, too. While you're focusing on making the most economic vehicle work out the door, make sure your back-end systems are in place to measure all the value of that effort, because if you underestimate there, you'll make some bad decisions on the front end.