The Low Lying Fruit
Three years ago, he hired a director of marketing. “We’ve changed our marketing strategy dramatically,” says Katzen. He compares the traditional advertising campaigns like radio, print and Web to “firing off a shotgun. You’re trying to hit too many people. I want to talk to customers who are interested in my product.” His e-mail blasts hit 4,000 people. His employees hold free weekly seminars for practical applications like how to put your vinyl records on your iPod. This brings in foot traffic and Katzen offers his employees a bonus for presenting the seminars.
Springboard’s employees work on commission so they can earn up to $50,000 annually. They also receive health benefits, gym memberships and 50 percent discounts on new Apple products. No wonder staff members stay for an average of four years.
But challenges loom. The nearest Apple store is at least thirty minutes away in the burbs. Not for long, warns Baker. With the success of the iPod, Apple can easily open up many more stores, though they’ve been slow going into downtowns. And Katzen is the first to admit that if an Apple store opened up down the street, they would be “dead meat.” That is, if they were doing straight retail. But Katzen has Springboard Media prepared. “We have a corporate business. We have a retail business. We have a thriving service business. Then if one of the legs gets knocked out, we can still stand.”