Direct Marketer of the Year Grolier's Dante Cirilli (3,801 wor
Grolier also marketed some other products aimed at different markets, and not everything it tried in those days succeeded. In the 1960s, for instance, Grolier tried a Dress of the Month Club to sell house dresses. In the 1970s, it was a Nylon of the Month Club. Then there were a catalog of Galloping Gourmet Pots & Pans and a Dr. Joyce Brothers book club, neither of which currently exists.
Regardless of the product being sold, Cirilli's fulfillment position kept him in constant touch with the company's customers. "I was involved in processing orders. I would see and hear first-hand what our customers were saying," he says.
Around that time, Cirilli says, "The federal government started to get really involved in regulating consumer affairs." He notes, "As a result, I became very involved in consumer affairs. So we spent a lot of time improving our response to customers. We'd take what they were saying and share it with marketing. We started to focus on understanding the customer." Cirilli subsequently developed processes to monitor Grolier's customer service. This was his first foray into the world of marketing.
The Move Into Marketing
How did Dan Cirilli make the move from handling orders and customer service issues on the fulfillment side to creating and selling product on the marketing side? He created a new product himself.
Cirilli recalls the situation that led to the launch of a Grolier Yearbook back in 1976:
Everyone was hogwild celebrating the bicentennial. Grolier was not doing so well at the time. The catalog division we had back then went out of business and almost took the whole company with it. I thought I had an idea that might help make some quick bucks: a bicentennial yearbook. I went out and found a publisher that had such a book: each year from 1776 to 1976 had a page describing its history. I sold the idea to the company.