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LOOK TO THE BASICS TO TURN A MARGINAL YEAR INTO A SUCCESS
By Heather Maylander
It is that time of year when everyone is forecasting, predicting and projecting that all important fourth quarter sales number. How much will 2001 holiday sales be up over 2000 sales—8 percent, 5 percent, 2 percent? The naysayers will start to question whether they will even be up at all. What market segments will be hot? What will be the must-have cool gift that will headline every morning talk show?
Direct marketers, too, are in the middle of the fray, depending on fall and holiday mail campaigns to not just deliver, but to deliver "big." With many mailers having cut back their spring mail plans 10 percent to 20 percent (year-to-date) and mail plans for the fall generally flat compared to last year, the challenge to successfully meet lofty 2001 year-end goals or show any increase over prior years could seem a daunting task.
Couple the pressure to perform profitably and deliver strong year-end results with decreased resources and increased postage costs, and many direct marketers could be feeling beaten before they even drop their first holiday campaign. But, what this really means for marketers is having to generate more with less and thinking outside the box—way outside the box.
Cross-Market Proven Techniques
Direct marketers could perceive that out-of-the-box means doing something new. Doing something new requires testing and testing means risk. The tests might not work, and besides, would it be prudent to increase test quantities at a time when tried-and-true techniques are so important? The bottom line is that results and out-of-the-box thinking can deliver results. In this case, brokers and mailers have to take proven and successful direct marketing techniques from one market (i.e., out of the box) and apply them to other markets.