Since 1902, Meredith Corp., a Des Moines, Iowa-based publishing and broadcasting company, has focused on reader feedback when creating direct mail campaigns. This emphasis on keeping publication offerings and direct mail packages simple, based on reader surveys, has helped grow the company to include more than 15 home, family and personal development women’s magazines; 200 special interest publications; and 14 TV stations.
With 2006 annual sales nearly $1.6 billion, Vice President of Consumer Marketing David Ball attributes the company’s success to a continued investment in direct marketing. “We feel our competitors have pulled back from direct marketing because of the costs, but [our] management continues to invest, understanding that long-term profits really come from direct marketing instead of relying on third parties for subscriptions,” he says.
Ball adds that another key success factor is the use of regression and database analysis to find the best prospects. When it comes to targeting the right customer, the company database contains more than 3,000 data elements, which Meredith breaks down using modeling to select names for mailing.
With 17 mailings a quarter for almost 30 different products, the company relies on subscriber research and a veteran creative team that “really understands our readers and our products,” Ball says. “A thorough understanding of the market really makes a difference. Many people who work here have been here for well over 10 years, and that continuity allows you to develop a [really thorough] understanding of the reader.”