Strategy: Colour Me Canadian
Determining the market size and universe is the No. 1 priority. Once this is done, the other points can follow.
Determine the market size. Make certain there’s a large enough universe of prospect names to support your offer.
Mail the same catalog you mail in the United States. There’s no need to produce a separate version.
U.S. prices are OK. While it’s always best to show prices in Canadian dollars, it’s fine to print U.S. prices when the exchange rate is favorable, i.e., within 10 percent of the U.S. dollar.
Avoid late or last-minute mailings. It takes time to move goods from one country to another. Avoid mailing after Nov. 15.
Don’t limit prospecting to the same lists you’re using in the United States. Most likely, you’ll find lists that work in Canada would never work for your offer in the United States.
Prospecting in Canada
Direct response catalog lists. Indicative of the limited universe counts, most Canadian catalog lists are quite small. But these files are growing as more U.S. catalogers expand into Canada.
(For U.S. catalog companies that market in Canada and have their Canadian buyer files available for rental, see the link below for a list of some datacards we pulled together with the help of Tony Gilroy from Direct Media Canada.)
That said, although there are plenty of U.S. catalogers in Canada such as L.L. Bean, many don’t make their lists available. Due to the limited universe of buyers and the cost to acquire those buyers, many mailers won’t rent out their customer names.
Based on list-rental prices and postage, it’s more expensive to prospect to Canada. A higher response rate offsets higher costs.
Cooperative database lists. The Abacus Canada Alliance offers an advantage to U.S. catalogers wanting to develop and grow this market. Abacus Canada now has more than 8 million households in its database and more than 175 Alliance members. There are more than 20 million transactions a year, $800 million-plus spent and an average of three-plus transactions per household.