Ideas for Small or Start-up Catalogers (1,131 words)
By Phil Mininx
Growing a new or small catalog takes time, energy, commitment, passion, risk and even a little luck. As it begins to grow, or hit some natural plateaus, there is often something fresh or innovative a cataloger can do to move the needle.
Yet, many of these actions are not practiced by start-up or small catalogers because of the additional time or resources required, or simply because everyone has been too busy getting the business off the ground.
However, if yours is a small- to medium-sized catalog, I encourage you to read the seven ideas below to make sure you're doing some or all of them. If you aren't, commit to implementing at least one in 2001, and I am confident you'll see measurable business improvements. These aren't radical concepts, but they're practices that will help you break through to the next level of success.
Idea #1—Capture E-mail Addresses
This may sound rudimentary, but there are many catalogs that still don't have e-mail addresses for very many of their customers. For effective outbound e-mail campaigns, you'll need a good number of valid addresses. I recommend to my clients a three-step process:
•Capture the address during order taking by asking for customers' e-mail addresses to notify them when their packages have shipped or if you have questions about their orders. You'll get a much higher capture rate by labeling it as a customer service.
•Send an e-mail following their orders, asking them to opt-in for e-mail specials, sales, discounts, etc.
•Promote the list with an offer.
Idea #2—Analyze Your Merchandise Performance
Effective merchandise analysis can dramatically impact your product assortment and your ability to grow your business. You must know which categories and individual products are profitable and where your potential for success is highest. In the developmental stages of growing a catalog, you must know where to take your offer to get the best results (a combination of demand and dollars). This can mean the difference between struggling to break even and being profitable.