1998 Direct Marketer of the Year - Jay Walker
Walker drove down to the Stamford, CT, headquarters of America's (then) biggest retail chain of bookstores, Walden Books. His pitch: Put my catalogs in your bookstores for $2 each, and you can keep 60 percent of the revenue or $1.20 on each $2.00. "Considering the mark-up on magazines is 20 percent and books is around 40 percent," Walker said, "Walden executives thought they had died and gone to heaven."
Walden had two caveats: No merchandise could go on a retail floor without a UPC code (and catalogers would have no reason or desire to print UPC codes on their covers). Further, Walden bookstores could not afford to give up shelf space for low-ticket items such as $2 catalogs. Walker thought fast: He would print up stickers for UPC codes and get a fulfillment house to affix them and he would order custom designed display racks that would represent a small footprint on the selling floor. The deal was signed for a test across all 1,000 Walden outlets.
The Execution. Walker signed up 200 catalogers for a 10,000 test each and ordered sleek, high-tech revolving display racks from Germany (at $1,000 a pop) with 60 pockets. An additional source of income: position allowance.
What Happened. The test was a raging success. Consumers bought catalogs like crazy and ordered from them. Catalogers and Walden were delirious. It was time to roll out and cash in big for Christmas the following fall—going not only to the 1,000 Walden stores but to 75,000 newsstands nationwide. Eight million catalogs were committed to the promotion and Walker saw himself on the way bringing in $10 million over the holidays.
Then What Happened. One glitch: Walker's small fulfillment house couldn't affix UPC labels or stickers on 8 million catalogs, so one of America's biggest magazine printers stepped in; catalogs would be shipped to this printer which would affix UPC labels and discount stickers and piggyback catalogs with its magazine shipments.