CADM Networking Works for Alliance Direct, Golf Galaxy and Americall

CHICAGO — Networking helped win a client for Alliance Direct Inc., a data processing and mail services firm exhibiting at the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing's annual show. It also stirred interest in direct marketing for Alliance's client.

Elizabeth A. Kuta, an account executive at Alliance Direct, sits on the CADM's onsite committee. In August, she was looking for ways to attract vendor and attendee traffic to the show being held here in Chicago yesterday and today.

“Our purpose was to enhance the experience [and] make it fun,” Kuta said.

A friend recommended Golf Galaxy, an Edina, MN-based specialty retailer of golf products that offers interactive lessons for consumers. The 20-store chain has PGA professionals who view a consumer's swing and offer videotape analysis to show how that person is wielding the golf club.

“I thought, wouldn't that be a fun thing. There are so many people in the industry who like to golf, and I thought it would be a good thing to bring Golf Galaxy in,” Kuta said.

And so, she sent an e-mail to [email protected] Justin Royer, store services manager at Golf Galaxy answered. A few conversations later, it was decided to set up the retailer in a central location on the exhibition floor at Chicago's Navy Pier. Americall, an insurance telemarketing company based in Naperville, IL, agreed to sponsor Golf Galaxy's presence for $2,500.

“We didn't get this confirmed till April 1, so I was sweating bullets,” Kuta said.

In the meanwhile, Kuta and Royer started talking about their respective companies. Founded four years ago, Bensenville, IL-based Alliance offers data processing, personalization and addressing, and mailing services. Turns out that Golf Galaxy could use Alliance's help for e-mail updates it sends out to customers and prospects.

In fact, Golf Galaxy is busy building a mailing and e-mail address database of visitors to its stores, most of them in the upper Midwest, including five in the Chicago area. But those addresses were not installed in a central repository.

So, for an undisclosed fee, Alliance offered to key in the addresses in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. It appends store numbers, the origination of each entry and ZIP codes where missing. The firm also merges all state files. This data is collected on a CD-ROM and also in hard-copy printouts.

Alliance so far has entered data for 17,000 addresses collected at the Golf Galaxy stores.

“We intend to do it every other month depending on [Golf Galaxy's] requirement,” said Kuta, who is also a member of the local chambers of commerce. “It's just kind of fun. It's all about networking and I think it's a valuable way of doing business and helping each other out.”

Shireen C. Wedlock, the Palatine, IL-based executive director of business development at the 18-year-old Americall, agreed.

“I think it was the combination of the fact that it would be fun and different to do at a show,” Wedlock said. “It would drive traffic and attendee involvement.”

Meanwhile, exhibitors and attendees took note of Golf Galaxy's participation at the CADM show. The enclosure yesterday saw scores of executives trying their swings and then monitoring their actions on a video display unit.

This has piqued Royer's interest in direct marketing and the industry. Golf Galaxy is planning a direct marketing campaign.

“At Golf Galaxy, we're very interested in direct marketing and we're investing a lot of money into direct marketing versus traditional media,” Royer said. “So essentially for me the venue was very attractive. … I've had a couple of individuals come up and ask me if we could do this at their shows, be a part of their company's annual retreat. So it's been very synergistic. They're also asking about Americall while they're waiting to swing.”

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