Take the road less traveled.
Cataloging, by its very nature implies acquiring customers via renting lists. For some, that’s prospecting in a nutshell. But most catalogers eventually
go beyond lists as a means to not only grow the business, but also to combat limited list universes,
or as part of an overall expansion into multichannel marketing.
But which directions make sense for your business? There are so many traditional choices, such as co-op databases, inserts, space ads, solo mailings, television or radio advertising. Compound that dilemma with the influx of newer online methods, such as paid search, Amazon.com, eBay and affiliate marketing, and it’s overwhelming. But by focusing on goals before selecting media and tactics, you’ll make better choices and avoid mismatches between your brand and specific options.
Diversification Reduces Risk
A key benefit of multichannel prospecting is reducing risk through diversification. Think about how a financial manager reduces investment risk by diversifying your portfolio with stocks in different sectors, and apply the same concept to customer acquisition. If you only rent lists, you become highly vulnerable to postal increases, deterioration of list-rental universes, etc. When using a variety of prospecting approaches, these things impact you, but your business isn’t decimated.
What’s more, don’t assume that these newer, “alternative” methods won’t perform as well as the more traditional options. Eileen Schlagenhaft, director of marketing at produce cataloger Cushman’s Fruit Co., says these methods have out-performed many more traditional efforts.
For example, the Crutchfield consumer electronics catalog is “always trying to find new customers beyond traditional list prospecting,” says its director of marketing strategy and catalog production, Michele Rick. “Many of these efforts have not only helped us grow our file; they’ve also made us less dependent on any one program.” Crutchfield uses print, radio, paid and organic search, price comparison engines and affiliates, and Amazon. What’s more, the cataloger has tested eBay.