Re-invented Genesis lives up to its name

Published May 22, 2007

After 12 years of shipping direct mail pieces for clients ranging from Sears to GNC, Oldsmar-based Genesis Direct was in need of a rebirth.

It found inspiration in a technological burst: new software, swanky, efficient printers. And an expanded mission to include data mining, management and decision support services among its offerings.

As a result, Genesis is now gaining prominence in an industry dominated by giants such as Largo-based Valpak, which is unveiling a $200-million plant in St. Petersburg later this year.

Consider it a reminder of the oldest lesson for any old-line industry: reinvent or die.

In the last year, Genesis outgrew its 35, 000-square-feet space spread across four buildings in Oldsmar, and is seeking a larger location. It increased its sales by 20 percent and added 20 employees.

"Gone are the days of mass mailing, " said Sriram Venkataraman, assistant professor of marketing at Goizueta Business School at Emory University. "You are seeing a lot of guys catering to niche markets and consumer segments. The need for return on investment on marketing has never been greater."

Last year companies spent $166.5-billion in direct marketing, generating $1.94-trillion in sales, according to the Direct Marketing Association. The results were felt from California to Florida.

At VerticalResponse, a San Francisco-based self-service, direct marketing company, sales doubled in the last two years.

"They software manufacturers have developed easier to use tools that took away the need for expensive designers and software, making it more affordable, " said Janine Popick, CEO and co-founder.

Access to cheaper technology and software is a blessing for the small and mid-sized companies that otherwise scrambled to reach targeted customers, experts say. With the "Do Not Call list" legislation in effect, businesses were challenged to find alternatives that were less intrusive, said Deanna Willsey, spokeswoman for Valpak.

Historically, data mining software came with a huge price tag, and the market was dominated mostly by the big companies. Small and mid-sized businesses mailed advertisements to a general audience, with the hope of netting their target customer.

The new technologies have helped companies in trimming expenses by reaching a segmented consumer base, said Britt Beemer, a marketing strategist.

"They can reduce their mailing by 50 percent while increasing customer response by 25 percent, " Beemer said.

Genesis became a certified re-seller and began leasing software called smartFOCUS. The technology helps companies mine data to tailor messages to specific customers.

"The mid-tier market will get more sophisticated, their messages more targeted as they compete with the bigger players, " said Jay Adena, the company's director of data services. "And we will be the facilitator."

Madhusmita Bora can be reached at (813)225-3112 or mbora@sptimes.com

Fast Facts:


Direct marketing at a glance

Recent sales figures:

- 2005: $157-billion

- 2006: $166.5-billion

- 2007: $175.2-billion (expected)

Top 3 consumer industries by direct marketing expenditures:

- Retail trade, nonstore and other retailers

- Financial, banks and credit institutions

- Manufacturing and motor vehicles

Top 5 states by direct marketing driven sales:

- California: $274.3-billion

- Texas: $146.6-billion

- New York: $136.9-billion

- Florida: $97.5-billion

- Illinois: $84.3-billion

Source: The Direct Marketing Association