2001 Direct Marketer of the Year
The following year was devoted to opening up so-called "alternate media." For example, in those insane years of working days and then waking at 3 a.m. to go online for a couple of hours, she was left numb by Friday afternoon. She would stop by Blockbuster Video and rent eight movies for the weekend and, except for riding her bicycle, would veg out in front of the TV.
One Friday she discovered Blockbuster was offering a box of goodies to anyone who rented three movies—discount coupons, samples, etc. She checked out her regular eight movies and took two of the sample boxes—one for herself and one for the office. Monday morning she handed the box to her manager of alternate media and suggested a free AOL floppy be included. It was. It worked.
AOL still has a great partnership with Blockbuster, as well as Omaha Steaks, various airlines that include a floppy (now a CD-ROM) with dinner snacks, Wal-Mart and Circuit City, among other retailers. The newest venue: a computer game and 700 hours free packaged on boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal by General Mills. This is the strategy of "total ubiquity" in the grand direct marketing tradition of Oreck vacuum cleaners and Bose radios.
The Ultimate Online Business Model
Amid the dot-com crash, America Online thrived. Two reasons: Brandt was thoroughly grounded in the old rules of direct marketing, which she applied to the new medium. And AOL itself is unique. Its revenue comes from automatically hitting 30 million credit cards for $23.90 a month, or $8.6 billion a year. Although AOL receives 47 percent of all advertising on the Web, it's the huge subscription revenue engine that drives it.
The proverbial cash cow is a cash elephant.
The Shopping Spree
In 1996 AOL launched Buddy List instant messaging for its members and the equivalent AIM service for Internet users. It can be argued that this is the next quantum leap in human communication following the telephone and the printing press.