To Err is Human — to Really Muck Things Up Takes a CEO, Part One
Maybe it’s the fact that I live and work (mostly) in Florida — the sun, scam and lazy person’s escape capital of the world. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve worked for so many entrepreneurial companies that “hit” with the right product at the right time — and had no idea how to spark the lightning to strike twice. Or perhaps, it’s because as a consultant I’m usually called in when there are problems (sometimes insurmountable) that need to be fixed, and start-ups that need to be funded.
Or maybe it’s just my dumb luck? Neh!
Be that as it may, I’ve had the opportunity to live through (survive) and learn from the mistakes of others.
The following is the first of a two-part series of things you never, ever (did I say ever?) want to do if you want to be a successful mail order company.
1. Never fall in love with your products. Your customers really don’t care if you had a vision of your new product while on a retreat to Tibet, or if it’s been blessed by the Dalai Lama himself. Plain and simple: If it doesn’t sell, stop selling it. Furthermore, just because you love your new creation, don’t put it on every cover of every catalog in your drop schedule in an effort to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse just by sheer force.
The goal of all direct marketers is to be objective — ruthlessly objective if need be. We’re in a numbers-driven business. If you really love products that don’t sell, buy some billboard space by your exit on the interstate so you can enjoy your product daily.
2. Inventory loses its value daily. If you overbuy for a season, don’t just store it in your warehouse. Sell it off or liquidate it immediately. Don’t wait (see No. 1 above). Who cares if it’s passé or doesn’t really fit your evolving brand image anymore. There must have been some reason you bought it in the first place.
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.