Four Tips from Daring Entrepreneur Eric States, Owner of After 5 and Surf to Summit
As a small cataloger on the rise, Eric States, owner of the After 5 and Surf to Summit catalogs, offers four tips, trips, tricks and blunders to share with fellow rising marketers:
1. “My first catalog cost me $80,000 to put it out there,” he recalls. “It was full of mistakes. A small trial, when you’re trying to figure things out, is important. Each book, you learn something. That’s your Ouija board.”
Start small and test. “Put great emphasis on working with the co-op databases,” States says, “because their modeling capabilities are so strong. Once you have a feel of your merchandise, you need help from a good modeler or co-op organization to give you the names of who would buy your products.”
2. Study data from co-op databases closely. After 5 discovered through some of its co-ops, such as NextAction, that it was very strong in gift sales. “I never thought of us as a gift catalog, nor did I want to be, because we’d end up focused only on gift-giving times,” States says.
But since that’s what customers dictated, the cataloger plans to start a gift-related Web site that’ll expand drinking-related activities, to hit the larger demographic.
3. Take something “pretty boring,” as States describes some of After 5’s offerings, and make it unique with personalization.
4. Read read read: Entering the catalog and manufacturing businesses cold after a successful real estate career, States read up catalog marketing through myriad books and periodicals, such as this one.
“Eric can write his own book,” says John Hunt, president/CEO of Compuvision. “He took this business from the point of knowing nothing about it to success in a short time.”