RB Industries’ Rob Murry on Converting Leads With Direct Mail
Among woodworkers, Hawk tools are in a league of their own. They are the kind of tools woodworking enthusiasts dream of getting and brag about owning. Not bad for a brand that only markets through direct channels—including direct mail, live events, Internet and telemarketing—and has been without a retail presence since its manufacturer RB Industries struck out on its own in the late 1970s after some 50 years of producing tools for the likes of Sears and Montgomery Ward. For President Robb Murry, the company owes much of this tremendous word of mouth and fervent customer loyalty to the strength of its customer service and marketing programs, both of which are crafted by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts.
Murry now pauses to reflect on how evolving technologies and a changing customer base are transforming the way RB Industries does business … and why he’s just fine with that.
Tracy A. Gill: What role does mail play in your marketing program?
Robb Murry: Direct mail-based [marketing] is about 80 percent of our revenues. We do a lot of direct response space ads in woodworking and hobby magazines. The process is that you see an ad and send in for information, which is a DVD pack that literally demonstrates the tool in your home. Then there’s a follow-up from our inside sales group. If the lead doesn’t convert, [he] goes into our general direct mail cycle, which includes seven different offers over 12 months. … The total cycle is about nine attempts before the lead goes dormant.
TG: What effect have new technologies had on your efforts?
RM: It’s been really good. The [Web] is a powerful tool for us. [It] is super active and much of it is back-and-forth conversations between us and our customers, answering questions, gathering information. Our average order is substantial—it’s over $1,000—so we can spend a little money on this dialogue, and the average time from when leads inquire to the time [they] convert is compressed because we’re able to use our Web site to interact with them much more than when we were strictly direct mail. …