Cover Story : Direct Marketer of the Year: Marisa Anne Edmund
A lifetime of direct marketing ignites third generation of B-to-B success for Edmund OpticsOctober 2012 By Heather Fletcher
At age 7, Marisa Anne Edmund was already an experienced direct mailer. Wearing roller skates while packing boxes of expensive optical components, she'd already started her career at her family's Barrington, N.J.-based optics, imaging and photonics technology company, Edmund Optics (EO).
"Yeah, so I've always lived here," says a laughing "Mari" Edmund, Target Marketing magazine's 2012 Direct Marketer of the Year. "I've always been a part of it. It just depended on the different department or what I was able to do."
Edmund has been able to do plenty—not only at EO, but in service to the direct marketing community as a whole.
At the moment, she's EO's executive vice president of marketing and communications and its vice president of human resources. And while the former roller-skating packing line worker is known for injecting a bit of fun into the otherwise serious world of engineers, what really sets her apart is her ability to see the big picture.
She's helped the 70-year-old, family-owned company evolve into a B-to-B-only enterprise that continues to rely on direct marketing to bring in its $125 million in annual sales. Her experience in international marketing is one of the primary reasons the private, New Jersey-based company expanded its presence in Asia and Europe.
That big picture mentality weighed into the choice she made during the Great Recession that set Edmund apart from other marketers—she stayed the course: "We marketed consistently throughout the whole recession. I didn't cut marketing expense during it."
The company also chose to keep inventory high, weathering a 6 percent dip in sales in 2009 while its competitors lowered stock levels. That way, customers always knew EO would be able to sell them whatever they wanted to buy.
The bet paid off. Edmund says, "We had [a] 30 percent increase in gross revenue coming out of the recession in 2010."
Yet Edmund alludes to her human resources experience as the real secret ingredient to her success.
"The people make the company," she says. "I really think any marketer can sell anything at any time. It's, 'Do you have the right people? Do you have the right mix, the right talents, the right skills and the passion, really, to be successful?' So I've always tried to surround myself with really exciting and invigorating, smart, creative, analytical types of people to make the whole thing work."