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Marketing Talks to Sales
“The sales director can use this information to see which contacts are the best customers, which were good last year but haven’t ordered yet this year, and which might be on the verge of not ordering again,” Hague says. The last category requires special care from the sales staff.
To keep messages consistent between channels at West Chester, Pa.-based scientific equipment cataloger VWR International, all marketing efforts are centrally managed, says Lynn Homann, its director of marketing communications, North America. Typically, the marketing team develops a message to impart to VWR’s customers, then evaluates the best channels to deliver that message, whether they’re the catalog, direct mail, space ads or e-mail.
And although VWR closely manages its marketing voice, the company gives its sales reps a bit more flexibility. While not requiring that sales calls be coordinated with marketing efforts, the marketing team does “provide the tools for the reps to manage that on their own,” Homann says. “If we have product X being featured on our Web site and sent out in an e-mail, we’ll also release literature about that product and make samples of that product available [to the sales team].”
With a sales team that’s limited to a small portion of its business, educational lab science supplies cataloger Carolina Biological Supply primarily relies on its 1,000-page catalog to drive much of its sales. And while it mails the big book just once a year, the company mails 10 supplemental catalogs and many more small flyers annually to stay top of mind with its customers, says Dan James, vice president of business development for the Burlington, N.C.-based company. The supplemental catalogs typically are less than 100 pages, while the flyers are two to eight pages.
Because the big book contains so many products, the supplements are designed to focus on specific segments within Carolina Biological Supply’s customer base. James notes that he regularly produces elementary and middle school catalogs, with other rotating supplements depending on certain products’ lifecycles. For instance, the company distributes a microscope supplement every few years because microscopes have a particularly long repurchase cycle.