A Synergistic Approach
In addition to working the company’s databases, Country Store uses cross-marketing to leverage the publications against the catalog, says Minix. “First, we have a page in the magazines — internally we call it a promo page.” As noted earlier, the magazines don’t take advertising and never have. “This promo page is where we can showcase and sell some of the products from the catalog. It has a headline announcing what type of products are featured, depending on the issue. The section is presented by Country Store and has the catalog’s logo,” Minix explains.
“Next, we run a supplement with every magazine that mails,” he notes. “The Taste of Home Product Guide,” for example, is polybagged with an issue of Taste of Home magazine and features offers for kitchen products. This program’s goal is to obtain a potential catalog buyer’s name. Once a buyer purchases an item from the supplement, Country Store will begin mailing him or her catalogs.
Unusual List Strategies
Country Store mails to prospects only in the fall because that’s when they get the best response, says Stanislawski. Prospect mailings in the spring were not particularly successful. He adds that, unlike most catalogers, Country Store tries to at least break even on its customer prospecting.
Says Minix, “We don’t prospect at a loss. We can afford to operate this way, because we’re a true partnership with our publishing arm. They don’t accept paid advertising. So we really do work together to operate a profitable business in this way. At the end of the day, they can add in value from our back end. We can’t lose money on getting that customer.”
As a result of this arrangement, Country Store places very tight marketing parameters on outside lists. “We ZIP model almost everything we’re going to mail,” Stanislawski says. That helps tighten the universe in terms of geographic regions that perform best for the catalog — typically the upper Midwest, the Plains, Ohio, Pennsylvania, western New York state and Missouri. The company makes use of several co-op databases. Stanislawski notes that where some catalogers have seen falloff with the co-ops, Country Store continues to experience success by using them.