Direct Marketer of the Year Grolier's Dante Cirilli (3,801 wor
But before one call was made, Cirilli wanted to be sure it was done right. He says, "We developed a procedures book. We were going to use the basic principles of direct mail, including the way we'd judge our own success. Unlike other telemarketing operations, we would look at a list and judge its effectiveness based on the number of names we'd have to call, not on the number of connects."
The telemarketing center was finally ready to go. Cirilli likes to share a funny little story about the evening Grolier was set to place its first outbound calls. He says, "We were gathered in the call center, had opened a bottle of champagne and then the phone rang. Would you believe it was Time-Life Books calling to sell us books?!"
About 60 percent of Grolier's telemarketing is handled in-house by its three call centers in Milford and Brookfield, CT, and in Panama City, FL. Cirilli admits he actually prefers it to be in the 80-percent range most times "because that gives us more control when it's in-house."
Today, telemarketing is a big player in Grolier's media mix, accounting for 25 percent of its total direct marketing. Most of the calls are to Grolier customers, cross-selling within the house file database.
On occasion, Grolier also uses the phone as an information-gathering tool, sometimes adding a question or two to a script. However, Cirilli is quick to point out that "In telemarketing, cost is a function of time. So we don't spend a lot of extra time on the phone to collect additional information."
One adjustment the company has had to make as it grew its telemarketing business, Cirilli says, is how it views upfront versus back-end response. "There's the saying, 'God giveth, God taketh away.' Sure we were getting 20-percent response to our initial telemarketing offers compared to 3 percent on direct mail; but they don't have the same back end," he says, referring to telemarketing's reliance on bill-me offers. "Each medium delivers its own value," he concludes.