Case Study: Road Runner Sports Keeping Pace
Gotfredson’s newest marketing effort is “cause marketing,” which he says will be the trend in cataloging in the coming years. Defined as improving a company’s image through supporting a worthy cause, Gotfredson implemented cause marketing at RRS in the late 1990s. RRS created Athletes Helping Athletes, a non-profit organization that supports ill, injured or disabled athletes by training supporters for 5Ks and marathons that serve as fund-raisers.
RRS combines certain marketing vehicles to target runners by segment. Basic customers get the catalog, value shoe mailers and the discontinued shoe postcard. RAC members get special preview catalogs and a subscription to Fitness Runner magazine. Athletes Helping Athletes supporters are sent special direct mailings and catalogs that have a personalized message.
Targeting new customers is a specialty of RRS. Inquiries and prospects are sent a welcome package. Delivered in an 81⁄2˝x11˝ envelope, is a catalog with an offer right on the front cover and a lift letter. The letter welcomes the runners to the RRS family and describes the company’s philosophy, and it is signed by Gotfredson.
“We have tried several things, but they are interested in value,” says Shanahan. The control has been 15 percent off the first order for the past five years. The offer is constantly tested against season-based offers and how the company got the prospect’s name. The letter is tweaked now and again. In the past year, the package has brought in 205,000 new customers.
E-mail marketing has become a large chunk of RRS’s plan. It sent more than 22 million e-mail marketing messages in 2000 to online shoppers. The messages contain discount offers, free shipping or combine offers with running content. All are designed to drive traffic to the Web. RRS does more than 14 percent of its total sales online.
The Web site features interactive tools like the Shoe Critic, which chooses shoes for customers based on certain attributes, and runner-themed electronic greeting cards.