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

Progressive Hydraulics is a distributor of hydraulic and pneumatic products. They recently increased response rates 10x as part of a program of innovative customer relationship management solutions which are focused on doubling PHI's sales over the next 5 years.

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 rep visits. Results were not living up to expectations. PHI 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 with customers and prospects to understand what competitively differentiating attributes they are looking for in a provider of products like PHI’s. We did one-hour telephone interviews and asked 35-40 questions. We also probed how customers want PHI’s different channels to work. These included telephone sales, field sales, technical service, Web and stores. We conducted 60 hours of interviews with 60 existing and inactive customers and used these responses to rethink how these five channels should be re-engineered.

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

A: For those whom a product or service has relevance, it is in their self-interest to provide input about making the product bet­ter. And, in the recruiting process, we offered two polo shirts as a "thank you" for their time.

Q: What did you do with the research?

A: Research findings indicated that PHI needed to provide value-added which would differentiate them. Customers defined value added as technical information and training to differentiate PHI from other vendors of pneumatic and hydraulic products. From the research, we created hydraulic and pneumatic training workshops in their stores.

Q: What were the results?

A: Response rates at training events increased by a factor of 10x over previous response baselines.

Q: What are the key takeaways?

A: When you provide value as defined by 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. This “opt-in” data base is powerful in driving targeted offers and high response rates.

For innovative customer relationship management solutions case studies, click here.

From the March 03, 2008 Issue of DMNews

New Book Release: Voice Of The Customer Marketing
"This is the definitive playbook for this new customer-driven era."
—Frank Eliason
Senior Director, National Customer Operations, Comcast
"Thank you, Ernan, for tuning us in to the inner voice of our customers! A deep understanding of our customers' needs and preferences is essential for our future growth."
—Karen Galley
President, Patient News Publishing