Heading Up the DR Fan Club16 Sep, 2010 By: Thomas Haire Response
David Lee has nothing but good things to say about direct response -especially DRTV- which has grown DirectBuy's Business to new heights.
Heading Up the DR Fan Club
More and more companies are heading down the direct response avenue. It makes so much sense, because the method is really diverse,” says David Lee, director of marketing for DirectBuy, the leading home improvement and furnishings club based in Merrillville, Ind. “You can do a hard-hitting DR campaign — like we did with our $50,000 home makeover TV offer — or institute branding, as well. Think about Geico: Really, it’s a DR company. Geico is looking for people to call for a quote. That’s DR —trying to get the phone to ring. But the spots increase brand awareness and increase sales.”
Lee has spent his entire 14-year career with DirectBuy, which was founded in 1971 as United Consumers Club (then became UCC Total Home before settling on DirectBuy in 2004). Today, the company operates 152 franchised locations across the United States and Canada, as well as a complete sales Web site for its members.
Lee, who started in communications with the company, joined the marketing department in 2005 — two years after it had debuted its first local DRTV campaign. When he became director of marketing, Lee says, “Bart Fesperman, who is now our executive vice president, told me he wanted us to take infomercial marketing to the national level. It’s been a home run. My marketing budget has expanded from $10,000 a week to more than
$1 million per week across all media (including TV, outbound telemarketing, online, radio and print).”
Moving Marketing Ahead
A home run is also an apt description of the nearly 40-year history of DirectBuy, which offers merchandise to its members at manufacturer-direct prices without traditional retail mark-up. Hundreds of thousands of consumers have enjoyed the benefits of membership over the years, and the company’s franchised locations have seen much success as well. The club locations offer products in nearly every “home” category — furnishings, home improvement, flooring, entertainment and outdoor products, accessories and much more.
When the company was purchased by Miami-based equity firm Trivest Partners LLC, Jamie Elias, a Trivest partner, commented, “Trivest was particularly attracted to DirectBuy due to the fact that all stakeholders — members, vendors and franchisees — realize considerable value. Members realize meaningful savings compared to retail, vendors gain access to highly profitable alternative distribution channels and franchisees benefit from a compelling return on their investment.”
Another beneficiary — and key part — of DirectBuy’s success is Lee, who started doing copywriting and video editing at the company on his first day after earning a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University in Indiana. He decided to go back to school, earning an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix, and moved to the marketing department in 2005.
His shift was timely, as the company was looking to expand its marketing methods to a recent problem. “Prior to 2003, when we launched the first local infomercial, everything in lead-generation marketing was outbound telemarketing,” Lee says. “The national Do-Not-Call laws made it tougher to reach the consumer. The company began using DR to try to increase the number of prospects we reached and to minimize the use of outbound. That infomercial was huge locally for the two years before I joined the team, and we were looking to expand on its success. Today, while DRTV drives the majority of our leads, we still do outbound lead-gen programs to targeted lists — it’s still a pivotal and necessary part of the business.”