Lots of first-time direct marketers launch ambitious campaigns and never get to most of the leads.

So Michael Kuzma, vice-president of sales and marketing at Anatomical Chart Co., in Skokie, Ill., started with a highly targeted campaign in the cataloger's first attempt to appeal to promising business niches.

Last spring Kuzma mailed a special offer for Anatomical's teaching posters to 9,000 bookstores, following up with calls to attractive subgroups (such as college bookstores). He limited the trial to what the 100-employee company could handle without extra hiring, training his top 3 (of 14) customer-service people to work the phones a few hours a day. "A good customer-service person is a telemarketer," Kuzma says.

Their efforts brought in hundreds of qualified leads and landed nearly 100 bookstore accounts. Each store placed an average order of $150. After three months Kuzma had covered his promotional costs and then some.

Even better, Anatomical acquired what are likely to be long-term customers. "Once our display is in the store, it will be there forever, and the stores come back for refills. The lifetime value of the customer is the key."

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