Catalog Doctor: Intense, Competitor Analysis
Tier 3 — Affinity competitors. These are catalogs outside your category that your customers probably buy from. One way to find them is by looking at list rentals/trades that work for you. For example, most food catalogers have a few apparel catalog lists. Tier 3 competitors don’t need to be included on your spreadsheet, but be sure to include them in your brainstorming and discussions.
THREE: Become a Customer
Are you delighted?
Denny Hatch defines marketing as “the business of acquiring customers and continually delighting them.” Learn your competitors’ “delight factor” (and your own) by becoming a customer and ordering regularly.
Important: Write everything down.
Tally the quantitative:
■ number of rings to answer;
■ time on hold;
■ time on the call;
■ number of products in stock;
■ number of products out of stock;
■ time for order to arrive; and
■ correct product shipped.
Tally the qualitative:
■ product knowledge;
■ answered question(s);
■ product packaging; and
Ask your team to compile a list of all the data points it feels are critical to your product line and your customers.
Become your own customer. If that’s awkward for you or your employees, hire a “secret shopper” (e.g., a temp service, friend, relative).
FOUR: Get on and Stay on Competitors’ Mailing Lists
If you order regularly — e.g., two to three times a year — you get mailed regularly. But for a Tier 2 or Tier 3 competitor, you may not want to order (regularly).
So, as soon as its mailings drop off, request a catalog again. When it arrives, write the date received on it. Then either enter it on an ongoing spreadsheet or dump the catalog in a bin for later data-batch entry. Staying on mailing lists means you’ll always have the latest catalogs on hand, plus you’ll gain insight into mailing patterns.