A Chat With March’s Profile, Martin Smith, CEO of MindWare
CS: At MindWare, how do you locate the prospects to mail to? What’s done to turn these prospects into first-time buyers, into multibuyers, etc.?
MS: I’m not sure that we have any magic secret over-and-above what most direct marketers do in terms of identifying good customers or bringing new customers on the file. I think we do what most other people are doing in terms of continually testing new sources, determining whether there are areas that we haven’t yet taken advantage of, sources that we haven’t yet taken advantage of, in finding productive new customers. I think the trick, and it isn’t a trick, is that the key issues in maintaining the customers are of course the quality of the product and the quality of the service in getting it to the customer. We believe that if we can accomplish those, then I wouldn’t say everything automatically follows, but we have distinctly leveraged our chances of maintaining that customer for the future.
CS: What aspects of the catalog/multichannel industry do you enjoy the most?
MS: I think the challenge and the excitement. The excitement when we get it right is continually seeking ways to try and present the product in an efficient way to the customer, such that we can show our products to the best advantage. And that’s a combination of catalog, e-mails, the Web site itself, what we’re communicating through the Web site, and other less obvious ways such as the way we talk to our customer in phone contacts or customer service contacts.
CS: What steps has MindWare taken to offset the rising costs of goods (e.g., postage, paper) in producing a catalog?
MS: Again, I don’t think we’re doing anything unique in this area, but we did in ’07, because of the postal increase, reduce our trim size (approximately a half-inch slice off the side, so the pages are slightly narrower). Not a dramatic change, but obviously when you hold an ’06 catalog vs. an ’07 side-by-side, then it’s very evident. I don’t actually know to what degree our customers noted that change, but we did make that change for savings purposes. We’ve also been pushing hard on trying to develop co-mailing opportunities in order to get bigger volumes, and therefore better postal discounts.