Who Inspires You?
Say what you want, I still think Martha Stewart is a business force to be reckoned with. In the months after serving a five-month jail sentence for lying about a stock sale, the doyenne of all things domestic has launched two TV shows, published a book and started plans on a host of other projects to refurbish her less than gleaming empire. No, her Apprentice-style TV show didn't do well and her "Martha" talk show is having problems too, but she's not cowering. Rather, Stewart's taking steps that support her overall brand. According to an Oct. 27, 2005 story from the Associated Press, "Martha" has bumped company Web site traffic up 50 percent over last year's numbers, leading to healthy increases in online magazine subscription sales and a 4.9 percent increase in Martha Stewart Everyday products at Kmart stores. And that's the beginning: Determined to find the right product mix, she's also developed a series of how-to DVDs and launched a line of DIY crafts projects. I get the sense that Stewart learned a little bit from her fellow inmates about what will sell to her core market, and so she's testing new ideas. I ask you, who else would have made the best of such a humiliating experience?
I'm also greatly inspired by the nine people profiled in this month's cover story, "The New Vanguard." From all walks of the industry, these gutsy direct marketers are not afraid of taking some chances to find the right mix of direct marketing techniques that will bring success to their companies. These all-stars are not settling for less-than-stellar performance averages. Each one is working to help his or her company push the edge of what's currently thought possible in direct marketing-whether this means going local with e-mail messaging, weaving sustainability goals into marketing production or building loyalty online where the competition's a nanosecond away.