Merchandise, Talent, Inventory, Brand Extension, PR and More Highlight NEMOA Session
Pappas provided some insight on how Plow & Hearth has alleviated its talent shortage by launching a training program with nearby University of Virginia to help recruit potential talent. He also pointed out that the Madison, Va.-based cataloger operates an in-house mentoring program where senior level employees spend a day working with a lower level employee.
* Extend Your Brand: Chris Bradley, CEO of Cuddledown and an audience member for this session, noted that one of his company’s efforts to drive business in these tough times is to “get your brand out there beyond catalog circulation.” For example, his company works with hotels to offer Cuddledown catalogs in hotel rooms. This helps capitalize on potential customers who enjoy such Cuddledown products as pillows and comforters during their stays at the hotels, and who want to know where they can buy the linens.
* Public Relations: As another means of extending your brand, Pappas pointed to a recent PR bonanza that recently graced Plow & Hearth. A representative of Martha Stewart’s TV show called the company and said that Martha loved one of its products and wanted to know if she could feature it on her show. Naturally, the company gladly accepted. As if the plug on the show wasn’t enough, Martha Stewart’s Web site put a link up to the Plow & Hearth site for six months. Needless to say, the product sold tremendously, Pappas said.
* Use Blogs: Panelists suggested sending a chosen blogger a predistribution (prior to it appearing in a forthcoming catalog) sample of a new product. This can help generate word-of-mouth buzz before the product hits the market.
* Demonic Discounting: Inventory management consultant George Mollo, president of GJM Associates, cautioned the audience not to be lured in by discounted pricing on a minimum purchase of products. In many cases it’s not worthwhile to buy at this bulk unless you know you’re going to move the product, he warned.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.