B-to-B Cataloging: CLIMB Into System Fundamentals
Cumbersome. Awkward. Do you say this and worse about your order management system, your CRM package or whatever you call your central repository of data? If so, you’re not alone.
Changing your system is expensive and time- consuming. So before you make that leap, step through the CLIMB process first. It’s a proven system to get more benefits from your database.
Clean: Clean data begins with standardization. Do you consistently place the same data in the same field, or do you find company names in address fields and other wrong places? Standardization improves deliverability of your mail, but the benefits don’t stop there. Standard addresses also improve the results of dedupe processes, which improves the quality of your transactional data and marketing efforts.
Learn: Software is a tool to help perform tasks better. No order management software teaches us how to manage inventory or run our marketing programs. The software company’s trainers don’t teach any of those functions either; they teach how to use their software. This is an important and often misunderstood distinction. Provide training to help your staff members do their jobs better, and they’ll discover how to use their tools more effectively.
Inventory: Pull a sample record layout and walk through a data inventory with your database manager. Ask questions, and make sure you know what every field means.
Once, while conducting this exercise with a client, we had a lively debate about a heading labeled “quantity.” No one in the company knew whether it meant number of orders or number of products. This type of discovery is not an isolated incident.
One CEO voiced his frustration that this cataloger couldn’t track lifetime value. On the surface, it didn’t appear that cumulative data was tracked. But the record layout displayed the number of orders and the average order value. The cumulative data and all its details were in hidden fields that no one knew existed.
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.