Cover Story: Full Sweep
To the casual observer, Publishers Clearing House (PCH) appears to have luck on its side. The nearly 60-year-old company that got its start selling magazine subscriptions has weathered stringent sweepstakes legislation and the accompanying publicity stirred up by Congress; the shrinking of its original customer base; and the not insignificant challenge of duplicating its offline dominance in the online sphere.
But you don't become one of the world's largest direct marketing organizations on chance alone. Instead of playing lucky numbers, PCH crunches the numbers to ensure it makes the right decisions on profitably finding and keeping customers.
This focus has led the firm to expand its business into merchandise (which now accounts for the majority of its $600-plus million in annual sales), embrace new online marketing channels (eight websites drive the brand's online presence), and refine its sweepstakes promotions while staying true to its roots as one of the leading providers of cash and prize promotions (since its first sweepstakes in 1967, PCH has awarded nearly $200 million worth of cash and prizes).
The guiding force through all these calibrations, says PCH CEO Andy Goldberg, has been the iconic PCH brand: "The brand is key in all channels." Josh Glantz, vice president and general manager of PCH Online, adds that the company has tested various types of online campaigns that were not heavy with PCH branding, and these never worked as well as campaigns with a prominent brand message.
With the brand as its beacon, PCH employs its direct marketing know-how to blend all types of offline and online media—not only to achieve relevance to sell more merchandise and magazine subscriptions, but also to generate leads for marketing partners.
In the Beginning, There
Was Direct Mail
PCH has been in the mail with campaigns for 58 years, and is known for not only perfecting the magazine stamp sheet, but also a slew of design techniques meant to captivate and involve recipients with its paper salesmen. These days, it sends upward of 200 million packages annually across the U.S. and Canada. Even as new channels in the digital space call for exploration, PCH never takes its eye off the direct mail ball so it can derive maximized value from this long-term marketing tool.