MARKETING CASE STUDY: Interpharm


Ed Sucherman was brought into Interpharm Press to save the company. Interpharm was a publisher and direct marketer of books and software that explained how to pass FDA requirements. They were sold to pharmaceutical scientists in 120 countries – every pharmaceutical scientist in every company on every continent in the world -- all through direct mail. Ed was the new Marketing Director – thus, he literally ran most of the company. Interpharm’s owner was out of the country most of the year, lecturing to scientists in various nations.

On his first day at Interpharm, the owner talked about bankruptcy options with the executives of the company. Interpharm was in a sales free-fall with no hope of survival. The company had not been profitable for four years.

Ed created a new company marketing strategy, spirit, and materials. The new strategy involved creating relationships, rather than selling books, through the mail, the Internet, and over the phone, where most of the inbound orders were placed. The spirit involved positive reinforcement for every employee, from telephone order takers to shipping clerks to the editorial department. New materials involved two efficiently produced, well written, and colorful major catalogs per year, supplemented by monthly targeted mailers, a new web site, and a database updated on a daily basis.

In Ed’s first year, Interpharm reversed the free fall and broke all sales records, but did not earn a large profit. In his second, third, and fourth years, Interpharm broke all sales and profit records. After the fourth year, the now profitable company was sold to an Internet company in Colorado. All relationships – the basis of the strategy – were severed. In one year, Interpharm was 1/3 of its size. A year later, it was sold again.


Highlights include:

    Leadership/Strategies: Ed Sucherman…

  • Created, produced, and executed all direct marketing activities, tracked sales, led the sales effort, managed marketing, telemarketing, fulfillment, publishing, printing, postage – the entire company.
  • Oversaw upkeep of the database – 180,000+ names in 120 countries.
  • Each day, analyzed reports of what was ordered by whom the day before, for the past three months, and in the past year, plus daily accounting reports and financial statements. Based on this data, set strategies and direct marketing tactics.
  • Mailed major catalog and mid-year supplement to all names. Used English, Dutch, and U.S. post offices, plus TNT (the major worldwide private service).
  • Sent monthly mini-catalogs with targeted books each month to targeted audiences in selected zips codes. Average mailings were 10,000 per month.
  • Financially analyzed every book, mailing, and marketing effort.
  • In the mail, on the web site, and with internal telemarketers, created a tightly controlled relationship-driven direct marketing effort. Sales doubled the first year, and had tripled by the final year (when the company was sold).
  • Attended international postal conferences in New York and London.
  • Profiled buyers, selected, and purchased mailing lists. Swapped seeded lists with non-competitive companies.
  • Wrote all copy for cover letters, catalogs, mini-catalogs, mailers, web site, etc. Directed all art and design. Personally supervised all printing. Interpharm’s postage costs went down while postal rates went up all over the world.
  • Built the web site from scratch and served as web master.
  • Completely turned around B2B software sales, which ownership had been ready to drop. Software sales improved 640% the first year and over 1,000% by the final year. Used mailings to generate leads and outgoing telemarketing to generate sales.
  • Chose which books to publish and when to introduce them. Published approximately 100 per year. At any given time, Interpharm sold 1,000+ products. Even sold to China, despite the language barrier.
  • Set pricing in each nation despite currency movements and differences.