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Getting it right Featured

11:04am EDT March 28, 2002

Bob Plummer took a number of swings at getting the marketing component right for his personal shopping service, Hours To You.

He missed every time.

After three years of trial and error, he says, he got it right when he engaged Decision Partners to research the market and figure out what the barriers were to potential customers trying the service.

Decision Partners' research, which involved in-depth interviews with customers to determine what their underlying beliefs were about Hours To You and the rationale for those beliefs, uncovered several barriers, most prominently an inability for potential customers to visualize what it would be like to use the service.

"I confirmed with the data the priority we should put on our marketing message," says Plummer.

The next step was to have AD 1 Partners, armed with the information gathered by Decision Partners and its interpretation of the data, create a direct mail piece and a brochure designed to overcome those barriers.

That process, says Plummer, has produced significant results for Hours To You.

The campaign addresses the obstacles to using the service, and Plummer has discovered that customer acquisition costs have dropped by half. And, he says, no other efforts were initiated to build the customer base during that time that could have skewed those results.

Essentially, Plummer says, "We took the services and products we had and found a better way to market them."

Just as important, Plummer says, he believes that having a clear picture of what customer perceptions are makes it easier to grow the business. Knowing that the barriers to using the service can be overcome, other parts of the operation, like product offerings or fee arrangements, can be altered to reach growth targets without worrying the message isn't right.

"The value to us is that we've taken the guesswork out of our marketing and communications tools," says Plummer. "We were able to use them more effectively, more than we have in the past."

How to reach: Hours To You, www.hourstoyou.com or (724) 657-1523