In 2011, Mimi Vanderhaven Magazine, Northeast Ohio’s largest publication proclaimed Northeast Factory Direct Cleveland’s Best-Kept Secret. A fitting accolade, as Alex Nemet had started his company by selling dining sets out of his friend’s Lakewood garage.
As the buzz around Alex’s dining sets grew, so did his business. He expanded his selection and moved from the garage to a storage unit, to multiple storage units. When he outgrew those, most furniture sellers would have looked for a retail location in a well-traveled section of town. Instead, Alex opted for a large warehouse tucked away on the westside of Cleveland and avoided the high costs that come with those fancier locations.
As Alex is known to say, “Northeast Factory Direct is not a fancy place.” His rent is 1/10th the cost of a typical retail furniture store. He doesn’t set up elaborate vignettes to showcase furniture. His team isn’t made up of pushy, high-commission salespeople. And he buys in volume so he can sell his goods at close to half the price of his competitors.
Alex doesn’t need to do all this. He chooses to charge people less and make a lower profit margin because he wants to pass those savings onto his customers. This mindset led Northeast Factory Direct to cultivate a loyal audience, generating 40% of their business from repeat customers and referrals. By relying largely on word of mouth, Northeast Factory Direct truly was Cleveland’s best-kept secret.
At the time, Mimi Vanderhaven was Alex’s only advertising channel. Mean Joe Advertising founder and CEO Todd Berk realized that Northeast Factory Direct was the kind of business more people would want to engage with if more people knew about it.
It wasn’t that Alex hadn’t tried advertising. He had partnered with multiple internet advertising vendors who were “good at computers” but never made him confident that they were driving sales. Since he worked on low margins, he couldn’t pay for advertising that didn’t work.
Due to his business’ need to keep overhead low to keep prices down, Alex was hesitant to partner with us on his first campaign. After a needs analysis, the Mean Joe team crafted a message and custom strategy designed to deliver the return-on-investment that Northeast Factory Direct needed.
Northeast Factory Direct needed “at least four times ROAS to be at the beginning of good.” For Alex, if it didn’t work, he wouldn’t lose much and would go back to what he’d been doing. For Mean Joe Advertising, if this first campaign didn’t deliver, the partnership might end before getting to deploy the tactics presented in the full strategic plan.
Northeast Factory Direct’s target market is families. Families trying to get by, save for college, live a comfortable lifestyle. They’ve got active families and want nice things for their home but can’t afford to overpay for them.
We recommended that Northeast Factory Direct start with 95.5 The Fish, a Christian radio station with a family-friendly morning show and exceptionally loyal listeners. Alex’s rise from humble beginnings, combined with Northeast Factory Direct’s dedication to passing savings onto its customers, was the perfect story for their audience.
With a campaign scheduled to start during the historically slower sales months, June and July, there was added pressure to succeed. With school ending, summer beginning, and many families traveling and spending time outside their homes, would Alex see the return that he was hoping for?
Thankfully for both parties, the initial campaign worked.
The success of the initial Northeast Factory Direct radio campaign led to more radio stations being added to the mix. TV advertising, print, billboards, and more, as well as several digital channels, followed.
A few simple ideas led the messaging and strategy shared across each channel: Alex is a good, normal guy who could have easily built another fancy furniture company but chose to save you money instead.
Northeast Factory Direct’s story continues to resonate with Northeast Ohioans who want nice things without overpaying, and the relationship between Northeast Factory Direct and Mean Joe Advertising continues to grow and deliver measured return-on-investment.
Before partnering with Mean Joe Advertising, $800,000 in sales was a good month for Northeast Factory Direct. Soon after the partnership with Mean Joe.
Advertising was established, the new “good month” number grew exponentially and it continues to grow as the company expands. We’re extremely proud to have been able to help Alex grow his business and help so many people get nice furniture, kitchen cabinets, hot tubs, and more; for far less than a fancy, expensive retail store.
There are many businesses out there facing the same challenges Northeast Factory Direct faced all those years ago. They don’t have a marketing department or a marketing specialist. Maybe one person — the CEO or a kid right out of college — who’s giving it their best. Not only is it not working, but that energy would be better spent improving the business. When you leave the marketing to the experts, you can spend more time working on your business, not for your business, and grow from the best-kept secret to many times your size.
Our advertising partnerships are what separate us from other agencies. The relationship we have with partners like Northeast Factory Direct, accompanied with our strategies and custom creative deliver qualified leads that convert. Let’s set up time to talk about your business and how we can create a mutually beneficial partnership.