Jim Garlow, director of advertising and marketing operations for technology products and services provider CDW, shares his feelings on matters ranging from why it’s important to be a knowledge source in the tech market to growth tactics for startup catalogers and much more.
Catalog Success: Why is it important for CDW to be viewed as a reference source in the tech marketplace?
Jim Garlow: We send our account managers through rigorous training because our target audience consists of IT purchasers and chief information officers, both of which are very tech savvy. They know they want somebody on the phone who knows what they’re talking about. If they’re going to spend $20,000 buying a server, they want someone who can not only complete the sale, but also make sure that any accessories they purchase with that server are going to match up.
Nothing is more frustrating than receiving a shipment on a server and the parts don’t all go together, or the equipment doesn’t all work together. Customers say during our customer surveys, "I want a dedicated account manager. I don’t want every time I call your company to get a new body on the phone. I want somebody that understands my account and industry."
CS:What growth tactics do you recommend for catalogers and multichannel marketers looking to grow?
JG: I’m a big fan of co-mailing. Financially it’s been very good for us. We started with our printers a couple of years ago when it was fairly new to the B-to-B market. With the multichannel approach, don’t drop a catalog and expect that to sell. Link in your Web site and specific landing pages, etc.
Our editorial program has been highly successful for us beyond just the magazines we produce. We’ve been very successful putting editorial into our catalogs, positioning ourselves as a voice of authority, while not pushing the selling too much on our customers. Those seem to get us a lot of traction and grassroots leads that we otherwise wouldn’t have.
CS: When planning a campaign, is it the marketing department’s project alone, or does it span all units of the company?
JG: It’s in several units. We’re closely aligned with our sales team because our [sales people] have a good pulse on what they think their customers are going to be doing based on feedback. They tell us if they have big purchases coming up or if there are purchasing cycles, such as certain schools purchasing every 16 months. So when that cycle comes around, we know there’s going to be a nice uptick.
We even have, within our marketing team, segment leaders for each specific segment we target. They’re held accountable to work daily with our sales team, and are with sales almost 50 percent of the time.
Purchasing also plays a big part. We work hand-in-hand with purchasing and product teams.
Our product teams are divided up by product categories, so product team directors will have a team under them focusing on each specific product category.
We also work with the e-commerce team to see what they can execute for the coming year. Marketing, e-commerce, sales and purchasing work very tightly together whenever we do this type of planning. —JK