This title was awarded to Northeast Factory Direct by Mimi Magazine, Northeast Ohio’s largest publication. A fitting title, as Alex Nemet had started Northeast Factory Direct (NEFD) out of his friend’s Lakewood garage, selling dining sets to friends and family.
As the buzz around Alex’s furniture grew, so did Northeast Factory Direct. But instead of moving into a fancy furniture store — and shouldering the costs that come with it — Alex chose a large warehouse tucked away on the west side of Cleveland.
There, Alex’s rent is 1/10th the cost of a fancy furniture retail unit. He doesn’t set up elaborate vignettes to showcase furniture. His team isn’t made of pushy, high-commission salespeople. And he buys in volume so he can sell his goods at up 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 wanted 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 the only advertising channel used by Northeast Factory Direct. Mean Joe Advertising founder and CEO Todd Berk realized that NEFD was the kind of business more people would engage with if they only knew about it.
It wasn’t that Alex hadn’t tried advertising. He had partnered with multiple vendors who were “good at computers” but never made him comfortable. Since he worked on low margins, he couldn’t pay for advertising that didn’t work.
Alex needed “at least four times ROAS to be at the beginning of good.” There was a chance that if the first attempt didn’t go well, the partnership would end. After a client needs analysis, the Mean Joe team crafted a custom strategy to meet Northeast Factory Direct’s goals and needs.
And it worked.