A Chat With March’s Profile, Martin Smith, CEO of MindWare
CS: What were the biggest challenges for you personally and the catalog industry as a whole when you started in the business?
MS: I’m not sure that my memory goes back that far. Well it was a whole new business — I had had virtually no exposure to direct and all the ways of measuring efficiency and productivity, which are specific to the direct business. So there was a personal learning curve getting familiar with the catalog industry. At that time, what were the big issues? Frankly, I think a lot of the issues which have been on the concern ever since then, and probably before then. Issues like cost of mailing catalogs, the high cost of getting a catalog in the customers’ hands. I don’t recall other specific issues from that time.
CS: What will be the biggest challenge be this year for MindWare, as well as the catalog industry as a whole?
MS: I think the great emphasis which we try to pursue, and will continue to try and pursue, is to find and develop product which is true to our mission and position in the market, and appealing to the customer. And presenting it in a way that effectively communicates its benefits. If I can just go back a minute and talk about finding and developing. MindWare presents to customers both MindWare-branded product, which we have developed ourselves, and also, obviously, product which we source from other marketers which we believe would be appealing to our customer base. The emphasis on coming up with a tightly edited offer applies in both those arenas — both those products which have the MindWare-branded product name printed on them, and those which are third party and available to our customers from other vendors potentially.
CS: What factors have made MindWare successful?
MS: I think it’s kind of the truisms of the industry — finding the right product, presenting it attractively and mailing it to the right people. Those are simple principles to state in the abstract, but an awful lot of work goes into actually trying to make those three objectives a reality.