Making the Best Use of Your Catalog Printing Budget
With the cost of printing and mailing catalogs prohibitive for many retailers, those that do need to squeeze every ounce of value out of their catalog budgets. Here are some proven recommendations:
1. Your printing salesperson can be your best friend when it comes to knowing the ways to get the most out of your printing, paper and postage budget. Ask your printer to partner with you to find a laundry list of ways to stretch your printing budget. Your salesperson can get everyone inside his/her organization to spend some time coming up with a list on how to produce the best and most economical printed catalog possible.
2. This holiday season the U.S. Post Office is again offering a 2 percent postage discount if you use a QR code to drive catalog recipients to a mobile-optimized website. A 2 percent postage discount is a big savings for a cataloger considering postage is often two-thirds of the total cost of getting a catalog into customers and prospects' homes. There are some hoops to jump through to capture the 2 percent savings, but catalogers should get the discount for all the catalog drops that qualify.
3. Take advantage of the low-cost marketing tools that your printer can provide. Make sure you have a strong series of ink-jet messages. Ink-jet messages are free and people read them, so use them to give catalog recipients a reason to shop your catalog and visit your website. Blow-in and bind-in cards can generate cost-effective response, so they're worth testing as well.
4. Dry release cards are a newer technology that's proving very responsive and cost effective for highlighting promotional offers and driving brick-and-mortar sales. Dry release cards are the size of a very thin credit card. Consumers can pull them off the cover of your catalog in a way that leaves both the catalog and the dry release card intact. Consumers can then slip the card into their purse and redeem them at your stores.
5. Expand the reach of your catalog creative by producing a virtual edition that you post on both your website and send out as a link in email campaigns. Produce an email campaign around each catalog version. Plan on your virtual catalog delivering an added 2 percent in top-line sales.
6. Consumers are increasingly using the iPad as a shopping device. You need to have an iPad app and a virtual catalog that's iPad compatible to cash in on this trend. Consumers have come to expect that brands will have an iPad app in addition to their catalog.
7. Work with your printer to plan your co-mail pools. Insist that each catalog drop have the maximum co-mail savings — even if you have to shift around in-home dates slightly. Make sure your printer knows you're flexible on your in-home dates but need maximum co-mail savings. Have your printer estimate your co-mail and postage costs with the same focus that it estimates your printing and paper costs. Make sure your co-mail estimates include all associated costs so you get the total catalog printing cost of manufacturing, paper, postage and co-mail expenses.
8. Review your pagination with your merchandising team to see if you can get by with fewer pages. You'll save on both printing and paper costs if you drop pages that are performing below breakeven.
9. Think through your in-home dates around the presidential election. Some catalogers are reluctant to be in-home before the election, but keep in mind that right after the election there will be a lot of catalogs competing in your customers' mailboxes.
10. Do you have a remail planned to your best customers to arrive in-home after Thanksgiving? Holiday buying is starting later each year, so you'll want a remail to your prime buyers after Thanksgiving to get wallet share from your housefile. Remails are usually the most cost-effective circulation you will mail.
11. Optimize your 24-month and older buyers at the co-op databases to suppress the 5 percent to 10 percent of your older buyers who have simply stopped buying. Suppress those households that are no longer active mail order buyers and drop those savings to your bottom line.
12. Email your housefile alerting them that a catalog is on its way to their mailboxes. Time the email to arrive right around the catalog's in-home date.
13. Use email campaigns to broadcast Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other short-lived promotions. It's too expensive to use your catalog to highlight promotions that only last a couple of days. Be aware that offering a promotion that expires before the end of your catalog's natural order curve really hurts your catalog sales after the promotion expires.
14. Use the headers and footers on your catalog pages to drive people to your website. Make it known inside your catalog that your website offers live chat as well as a toll-free phone number.
15. Challenge your creative team to provide you with front and back catalog covers that really break through the mailbox clutter.
16. Test lighter-weight paper on inside signatures of your catalog to save postage costs. Ask your printer to test lighter paper weights and different paper grades to see if the potential cost savings not only work for your catalog's brand image but also if they affect the sales per catalog metric.
17. Use catalogs as bouncebacks in your product shipments. Response rates on bouncebacks are often one of the highest responding house segments in your mailing.
18. Give this list of "needlemovers" to your print salesperson right now and ask them to come up with some additional recommendations. Remember, you aren't just looking for ways to reduce costs, but ways to drive more sales and profits as well!