In a world fixated on aggressive marketing strategies, Missy Park, founder of Title Nine, a multimillion-dollar retailer of women's athletic apparel and sportswear, is proving that sometimes the best way to reach customers is just to get real. Real women are featured as models in the company's catalogs and on its website, and Park's voice is heard on the company's phone recording. In addition, Title Nine's seven retail locations organize athletic activities, including hikes, cycling trips and even a Mother's Day run, thereby turning customers into friends.
Effective marketing? Yes, but that's not what drives Park to do it. Being a relevant force in her customers' lives has been her goal since she founded the Emeryville, California, company in 1989. Says Park, 44, "As long as we're relevant, they're going to choose to shop with us, spend their Mother's Day with us, spend their evenings with us, and that, in the end, translates into a profitable, growing business."