With the right offer.
n a recent article on "Mail Targeting" (FW October/November 1998), author Sheila McCusker said that "the single most important factor in advertising (for retailers) is getting their ad into the hands of the right people." For furniture retailers, you might add the words, "and getting it there first."
Getting advertising into the hands of new movers and getting it there first has been, in effect, the motto of the Direct Delivery Network (DDN), since its inception in 1994. A consortium of the nation's telephone companies that publish the Yellow Pages, the Direct Delivery Network works with sales agents throughout the country who seek out advertisers, and package their ads into a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" envelope. This information packet is delivered to new residents of a community on top of the telephone book -- usually within three to five days after telephone service begins.
Furniture and home furnishings retailers, along with banks, pharmacies, supermarkets, appliance and home improvement stores, newspapers and health care facilities, are among the companies that have enjoyed the best results with the DDN's so-called "ride-along" program because they all deal in products or services that are essential to the new mover.
Patti Forti, Vice President/Advertising at Good's Furniture, based in Lancaster, Pa., has found DDN's ride-along program to be "a very good vehicle for bringing new movers into our stores. We have an exclusive arrangement so that ours are the only furniture store ads that appear in the "Welcome" envelopes that are delivered in our market areas, which provides us with excellent positioning. We've found their program to be more cost-effective than direct mail, as well as less labor intensive.
"We don't have to purchase a list, so there's no mailing process. We just provide our agency, Directory Dividends, with the creative material and they print and distribute our ads. Redemption exceeds 2%, which is well above the industry average for direct mail." Good's, which operates 13 retail stores in southeastern and central Pennsylvania, offers a 20% discount on any one piece of furniture in its promotional ad.
Wickes Furniture, a Wheeling, IL-based retail chain, has been using the ride-along program for more than four years with excellent results. Wickes has 32 stores in such major cities as Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Portland, where they also enjoy an exclusive for their ads.
Another mid-western furniture dealer, which operates six stores in a major metropolitan area, has also used the new movers program to good effect, but, according to the company's vice president, who asked not be identified, "You have to give the program time to work. It does not give you instant payback. We've been using the program for three years and we've found it to be a great way to get our name in front of new movers.
"Our company's ad offers new movers a $50-off coupon. They like the gift, but many are not ready to make a commitment when they first move. However, we find that they do come back with the coupon to make a major purchase at a later date."
She called DDN's ride-along program "the most effective way we've found to reach new movers." She also likes the fact that her ads are delivered with the Ameritech directory "along with ads of other high quality, reputable merchants. It puts our name in the customer's living room when they are most apt to need our products. And it's really inexpensive considering that we're getting 100% coverage with the new movers in our area."
Most of the Direct Delivery Network members are currently using their ride-along program exclusively with new movers, but a new approach is now being tested in which a "pouch" containing the ads is actually bound into the centerfold of the primary telephone book, which is delivered to all telephone users once a year. Developed by Directory Dividends, Devon, PA., and Gilford & Associates, Tampa, FL., the pouch concept is now being tested by BellSouth and GTE.
According to Jim Moore, General Manager/National Director Marketing at Southwestern Bell, his company has been using the ride-along program with both its new movers and primary telephone book deliveries for some time and they've been very pleased with the results.
According to a 1994 U.S. census study, about 16 million American households move annually, and it is estimated that these families spend more for new furnishings and other household goods and appliances in the first six months after they move than they do in the next several years. "Our ability to effectively target this important consumer segment is one of the key reasons for the success of our new movers program," said John Logan, Special Projects Manager for Ameritech and Chairman of the Direct Delivery Network.
Logan points out, however, that the testing of the primary book delivery as an advertising vehicle may have merit "simply because it involves more than 110 million households annually. This whole marketing sector is still evolving and you can be sure that we will be checking it thoroughly over time to determine whether it meets the high level of success that has been demonstrated year in and year out by our new movers program."
Robert Fiori is president of Directory Dividends, a direct marketing firm based in Devon, Pa., which is the exclusive advertising sales agent for the new movers programs of BellSouth, Ameritech and Pacific Bell. In servicing retailers such as Good's Furniture, Directory Dividends not only prints the client's promotional material, it also warehouses and ships it to its final destination and, most important, provides the "exclusive" arrangement for furniture retailers in their market areas. Questions and comments can be sent to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.