On the Web: The New World of Direct Marketing
I had breakfast with a couple at a conference recently. The woman was the founder of a business that sells beads to home hobbyists for bracelets and necklaces. Her partner runs the back-office operations for the business. I asked how they started their business.
"I've always enjoyed making bracelets and necklaces," the woman began. "But most craft stores don't stock the really interesting beads or take the time to offer patterns and instructions. It's just too specialized. I saw an opportunity to start a company for people who shared my passion. I began out of my home. Now we ship about 30,000 orders a year, have a warehouse and are adding staff."
In my 20-plus years in direct marketing, I've met more than 100 entrepreneurs with very similar stories and can feel their passion when they speak about their businesses. But this time, the story had a very different twist. The couple had no idea of the size of the company's 12-month buyer file. The two of them didn't have a call center or a catalog. They were considering adding a website, yet the woman confided they were concerned that if they do, they'll also have to add people to take phone calls from customers.
The couple built its business on eBay. Meet the new world of direct marketing.
Yes, That eBay
In this new world, you don't need to know how to find customers. You can start on eBay, then add stores on Amazon and Overstock. These marketplaces yield the traffic, customers and engine to transact. This new world of direct marketing is huge.
There were more direct marketers at the conference where I met the couple than there were at this year's ACCM. And it wasn't even a conference in the true sense of the word — it was a user group meeting for a software company.