MeritDirect Event Panel Heading Back to the Future, Part 1
In a session during the July 9-10 MeritDirect Business Mailers Co-op in White Plains, N.Y., four B-to-B catalogers and All About ROI On the Web columnist Terry Jukes candidly discussed how they’re going to retool and ready themselves for an economic recovery, all while enduring the current recession.
Jukes, president of e-commerce software provider Ability Commerce, served as moderator, posing questions. In setting the stage, he noted that direct marketers “have to hold the expenditures they make in online to the same standards they made in mail over the past 25 years."
"Specifically,” he advised, “look at not just order dollar acquired, but also lifetime value and profitability of a customer acquired online vs. lifetime value and profitability of a customer acquired through a catalog. If we’ve done anything wrong in the past five years, we’ve been a little overenamored with the sexiness of technology and moved away from the disciplines and measurements of RFM and lifetime value that we’ve learned so well.”
The panelists included Bob Runke, president of Barco Products Co.; Mike Faith, CEO and president of Headsets.com, and a member of the All About ROI editorial advisory board; Neil Sexton, president/COO of Northern Safety; and Dick Nelson, CEO of MARCO Promotional Products. In the interest of keeping our Web articles short, we’ll break this up into multiple parts. So check back here next week for additional installments of this session's recap.
Jukes: How has your business held up this year?
Runke: We had our best year ever in 2007 — grew 26 percent and planned for the same last year. Then the recession showed up, and we had a really bad year. We recognized signs of what was coming in May (2008). I panicked in June, got together with our majority owner and said, "We have to act now," and he kept his ego out of the scenario. So we downsized, eliminating 25 percent of our staff and redid our supporting infrastructure.