Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
Rewarding Boardroom Milestones
It's safe to say that direct marketing has evolved dramatically from Kurtz's first decade in the industry to his second and the start of his third. While Boardroom's overall business hasn't changed, it has kept pace with the march of time by testing all means available by which to market its products efficiently-from direct mail and package inserts, to space ads, FSIs, radio and more recently, infomercials. "We always say there's not a medium we didn't like. I still take a lot of grief for testing the back of ATM receipts once. It ended up working for somebody I guess, but not for us, I can tell you," Kurtz laughs.
Leading the company's move into infomercials is something he's found satisfying-one, because it's been a big success, and two, because it gives Boardroom another strong channel outside of direct mail.
Looking back at the impact the Internet has had on direct marketing, Kurtz says he's glad the company always has asked Auerbacher's favorite question, "Where does the money flow?" when it came to online ventures. "We've not spent a lot of time throwing good money after bad. We have a great online program with e-newsletters and people buying on a regular basis. While it's not the highest percentage of our business that I'd like it to be, it's pretty good and [it's not draining capital away from other programs]," he says.
Of course, in working with consummate experts like Grossman and Benson, some big breakthroughs were achieved that Kurtz says took Boardroom's growth to a new level. He credits Grossman with helping the company convert its book sales division to installment billing. It was a calculated risk, taking on some bad debt. But with 70 percent to 80 percent pay-up, Boardroom got a much bigger business and customer file.