Direct Marketer of the Year Grolier's Dante Cirilli (3,801 wor
Formula For Success
Grolier's direct marketing business continued to grow during most of the 1980s, but by the time Cirilli was appointed president of Grolier Direct Marketing in 1989, the firm's direct mail response was starting to slack off. "We were down to an average of a point and half," he recalls. "We needed some new marketing ideas and a new philosophy to bring it back." That's when Grolier decided to aggressively up the target age of its customers and grow its product lines beyond the 0- to 6-year-old age group.
Says Cirilli, "Once we began to see ourselves that way, we decided to reject products that didn't fit this and seek ones that did."
Cirilli formulated a strategy for Grolier Direct Marketing to pursue three things in order to continue to be successful:
• variety in age;
• variety in content; and
• variety in form.
Explaining the concept, he adds, "I look at it like a matrix, trying to fill in the blanks with new products: perhaps add a video program, then a card program for each age."
Variety In Age
Grolier Direct Marketing's current marketing programs annually bring in more than 2 million new members, mostly families with children, ages 0 to 6. The company claims to have a 50-percent market share—meaning that more than half the children born in the United States will become a member of a Grolier Direct Marketing club. All told, its database of past and present customers totals more than 14 million families.
"So where do you get all the names?" I wanted to know.
As Cirilli recalls, early, early on in Grolier's direct marketing history, the source of the first direct mail list was people who bought encyclopedias! Another way Grolier knew of to reach kids was to mail to teachers at schools. The problem with this method, however, was that by the time the children reached school-age, they'd already passed the age of most Grolier book club products.