B-to-B Insights: Unorthodox But Effective
To improve your mailings for site penetration, there are a few steps to follow. First, ask your current customers if anyone else in their department or company needs a catalog. The benefits of this approach are that these names are free and you own them, enabling you to remail them without any rental fees. Another good way to find qualified names is through database co-ops that specialize in B-to-B. The benefit of this approach is that you'll find customers with known purchasing behavior for your type of products. Either way works; use both for maximum impact.
One point to remember: Be careful not to mail too many catalogs into one company at a single time. Any good list processor can give you a site penetration report for your merge/purge. As a rule of thumb, keep your mailing to three catalogs or fewer per site for your prospect lists. Save the leftover names. You can mail them as a separate flight a couple weeks later or use them for your next mailing.
3. Figure out what's in your database ... and how to get it out. Many direct marketing companies have little to no clue what information is housed in their databases. Even once they learn what data is there, they often can't get it out, meaning that they can't run reports for actionable intelligence.
You probably have a treasure trove of customer information at your disposal — e.g., lifetime value, order velocity, likelihood of second order, etc. However, you first have to figure out what's in your file. Here's a list of questions to get you started:
- How far back does your data go?
- What fields are found in all of the tables of your database?
- Do you have a list of database field definitions?
- Do you have a list of past and present SKUs with product category and product name identified?
Once this information is in hand, you can then determine what additional calculated information you need. For example, many direct marketers are frustrated that they can't get a lifetime value calculation for their customers. However, if you have all orders for all customers going back 10 years or so, you can create some fairly detailed lifetime value profiles for the various segments of your customer file.
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.