Hello Direct-Focus on Creative & Print Production (1,528 words)
By Donna Loyle
How the cataloger uses creative print and production strategies to stay connected to customers.
Mention the name Hello Direct, and undoubtedly almost everyone will say the same thing: "Oh yes, the headset company." Like Harley-Davidson and motorcycles, Hello Direct usually is top of mind when it comes to telephone headsets.
How the company nurtures and maintains "ownership" of that product is instructive for other catalogers looking to dominate their own categories. Hello Direct executives use a combination of strategies, not the least of which are exceptional creative and print production capabilities that help the company stay connected with its customers.
Then and Now
Founded in 1987, the company's original mission was to eliminate distributors from the sales process and bring telecommunications solutions directly to end users. In 2000, publicly traded Hello Direct was sold to GN Netcom, another telecom headset manufacturer. GN Netcom, in turn, is owned by Great Nordic, a large multinational corporation whose shares are traded on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.
Bob Faville, Hello Direct's director of direct marketing, says the acquisition brought numerous benefits to the U.S.-based catalog. "The synergies and economies of scale we get are very helpful on a day-to-day basis," he says. "We now have the financial backing to do some of the things we've always wanted to do in terms of product and category expansion. Before the acquisition, we had trouble balancing investment spending versus delivering against analytical expectations every quarter.
"They saw a lot of good value in us, too," Faville continues. "GN didn't have any direct access to the end-user office market, so we're bringing that to their organization."
Undoubtedly, another selling point was Hello Direct's creative talent. Greg Burke, creative director, oversees the company's catalog and Web site design, copywriting, and print production. Burke and his team excel at numerous aspects of catalog creative, including: concise, benefits-oriented copy; uncluttered, contemporary page designs; and catalog versioning projects that boost response levels, sales and the product "wow" factor.