What is HMV Direct?
It’s a direct sell music service for cash-rich, time-poor
thirtysomething record buyers who can’t cope with music stores that
cater for 14- to 25-year-olds. We launched a year ago.
So you’re targeting Campaign readers then?
Absolutely. Why not drum up a bit of business?
Has this been your life’s ambition?
No, but music has been a bit of a crusade since I left my job as a
solicitor in 1980 to work as a sales assistant in Our Price. I worked my
way up the company and became head of marketing and buying a decade
later. Then I came here to do business development. I think music is
good for your health.
How did you come up with the idea?
Talking to people who listen to music a lot but hadn’t heard any of the
latest releases. I was fed up with lending them my CDs.
How does it work?
Customers call us on 0990-334578 and order what they want from the
world’s biggest music database of 300,000 items. Delivery is in seven
days - or two weeks if it’s an import - and there’s a charge of pounds
1.50 postage and packaging, no matter how many items you select.
You had a flash of cred there, but aren’t you just like any other Sunday
supplement record club?
No, because there is no requirement to buy. Like most people, I’ve
dabbled with such clubs myself and I know what they’re like. When I put
the business plan together for HMV Direct, I wanted to avoid the usual
How are you convincing customers of that?
We did some consumer press ads through RPE last autumn and have sent out
180,000 brochures, created by DRS Advertising, giving people a taste of
our catalogue. (A catalogue costs pounds 3.)
But what about the front-line staff?
Bored telephonists who don’t know Tom Waits from Tosca send the keenest
music lovers in-store. Actually, our 15 telephone staff were picked for
their product knowledge and telephone manner from 1,200 applicants. They
even had psychometric tests to see if they could sit in a call centre
all day without beating each other up and were trained by the L&R
We were named Telemarketing Champion 1997 at the Marketing Telemarketing
Awards last month, so we must have done something right.
OK, so you do attract customers, but how do you keep them?
Retention is a headache for most music clubs. Our research already shows
that 25 per cent of people who received our initial catalogue bought
something and 50 per cent of those became repeat customers, so we are
And, as we learn about our customers, we’ll send out targeted monthly
mailings. Last month, we launched a classical music brochure which sent
classical sales up from 12 per cent of our total to nearly 30 per
We also see opportunities for selling using digital TV and the Internet
I’m convinced. Put me down for the new Oasis album.
Fine. But may I also recommend Fountains of Wayne by Fountains of Wayne
or the new Ron Sexsmith album, which is like poppy Tim Hardin.
OK, but only if they’re press copies.
Occupation Direct and general manager, HMV Direct
Status Married, two kids