Can Creative Lightning Strike Twice?
The following is a true story. The names have been changed to protect, well, me.
Some time ago, I was hired to run, actually turn around, a consumer mail order company that sold apparel and accessories. The company sold high-quality products to a niche market, and prospecting wasn’t so easy. Sales and profits were declining despite the fact that the company’s industry was seeing a growth spurt.
We decided, as part of the overall turnaround strategy that the catalog’s image needed a makeover.
Frankly, the catalog looked horrible, so we hired a great catalog agency to fix things.
The agency re-did everything from our logo to the color palette. It even started photographing our products in a way that made them look more like what you got when you received your shipment.
But in the process of redesigning everything, we forgot one of the cardinal rules of direct marketing: test before you rollout! In this case, however, we got lucky.
We mailed the new catalog and response went up, customer acquisition costs went down, and, just as importantly, returns went down (leaving us greater gross profit).
And I built a great relationship with this agency. Very soon the entire process was running smooth as silk.
But the president of the company wasn’t satisfied. Somehow he/she had lost control of the catalog between the agency and myself. It was clear to any observer that the president wanted control back, so he/she decided to bring the creative development back in-house.
Let me pause at this point to ask you what you’d do in this circumstance. Would you decide you can do better by bringing the creative in-house (and by going back to the photography shop you used prior to the rebranding)? Or would you let it ride and build on your current image?
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.