Sure Fit: Sitting Pretty
Liana Toscanini, vice president of insurgence (yes, insurgence) for Sure Fit Slipcovers by Mail, challenged authority seven years ago when she started a catalog and Web site for the 87-year-old slipcover manufacturer.
Retail and wholesale distribution has been Allentown, PA-based Sure Fit’s focus. It has sold its product, ready-made slipcovers, to retailers like Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target, as well as to cataloger LinenSource.
With an 85-percent share of the ready-made slipcover market, Toscanini told company president Bert Shlensky she believed direct marketing to consumers was an avenue for growth. Shlensky, a promoter of innovation and creativity among his employees, told her to go for it.
Toscanini’s hunch proved right. In five years, the company has created a $70 million catalog business.
Not unlike many start-up catalogs in recent history, Sure Fit was launched “off-the-page” with a tiny print ad in a magazine. But unlike other catalogers, the company has stuck with print advertising as its primary means of drawing in new prospects. “Media is how we’ve built our catalog business, and it’s what we continue to rely on.”
She describes Sure Fit’s catalog prospecting media as “pretty typical,” explaining that direct response space advertising in combination with direct response television (DRTV) have been the primary avenues it uses to reach its target audience: women ages 25 to 54 with above-average household incomes.
Sure Fit now uses a three-pronged approach to building its catalog business using print, TV and more recently, the Internet to generate catalog leads. Of the three prospecting media, print has the most productive cost per lead and cost per order. DRTV has the highest cost, but it drives a considerable amount of retail sales, which Toscanini says is hard to measure. And the Internet’s contribution to prospecting efforts is still being gauged.