DMNews spends a few minutes with Ernan Roman, president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing

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Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman

Q: What was PHI doing to promote its industrial products?

A: Like many small companies, it was doing “spray and pray” market­ing. It was blasting out mailings, phone calls and sales reps visits and results were not living up to its expectations. It had set a goal of growing the company to twice the size in two years and realized that this kind of marketing was not mov­ing the needle.

Q: What was your approach?

A: The first step that we took was to conduct voice of customer research to understand from customers and prospects what attributes they are looking for from a provider of prod­ucts like PHI's and let customers set their own preferences. We did one-hour telephone interviews and asked 35-40 questions to find out how a customer wants different channels to work. These included telephone sales, field sales, technical service, Web and stores. We [ended up with about] 60 hours of interviews with 60 existing and inactive customers and used these responses to rethink how these five channels were being used. Then we began the engage­ment and self-profiling process with other customers.

Q: How did you get people to agree to do an hour interview?

A: For people for whom a product or service has any level of relevance, it is in their self-interest to provide input about making the product bet­ter. And, in the recruiting process, we offered a nominal thank you with a $50 off coupon to be respectful that it is an hour of their time.

Q: What did you do with the research?

A: The research said PHI needed to provide added value. We defined value added as technical informa­tion and training to differentiate the product from other vendors of pneumatic and hydraulic products. From the research, we created hydraulic and pneumatic training workshops in stores.

Q: What were the results?

A: We increased the attendance at training events by 10 times over past events of this kind.

Q: What are the key takeaways?

A: When you engage the customer, they are willing to opt in and self-profile a great deal of information about their preferences, interests, budget cycle and media preference


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