Circulation Planning: Five Critical Steps
More than 60 percent of the success of any mailing depends on the lists used and the circulation plan in general. Catalogers don’t always spend enough time on the critical steps to effective and proper circulation planning. They worry more about the design and layout of their catalogs.
To be sure, the look of your catalog is important. But in the end, it’s the circulation plan that determines your ultimate success.
This month, I’ll review the critical steps to circulation planning.
1. Evaluate your historical results.
Start by examining the strengths and weaknesses of previous mailings. Compare mailings against the same drops the year prior. Understand the current trends as well, recognizing there are seasonality factors to consider. Knowing what didn’t work is just as important as knowing what did.
Trace historical results with a weekly “percent complete” report. Rank the results by mailing based on the revenue per catalog generated from each list and from all housefile segments: best to worst. Apply an incremental breakeven point to determine where the cut-off should be.
2. Understand your objectives.
Know your growth expectations. For example, do you want to grow your business aggressively, take a more conservative approach or stay even? Be sure the objective and the circulation plan support company goals. Understand, for example, that aggressive growth comes at the expense of short-term profits.
A balanced approach often is best. Be sure the prospect universe supports your desired growth rate. For instance, it may not be possible from a circulation standpoint to grow at a given rate.
Growth comes at a price, and there are limits for most niche-oriented catalogers.
3. Prepare an outside list recommendation.
Your list broker enters the picture here. A good broker is an important part of any marketing team. He or she must have a basic understanding of what lists work for your offer. The broker then will develop a comprehensive list recommendation, which will provide current universe counts. And he or she will suggest new lists for testing.