A Chat with October’s Profile, Bill Boatman, Founder and Owner of Bill Boatman and Company
Catalog Success: How was the catalog established?
Bill Boatman: Prior to printing my first catalog in 1955, I owned a small grocery store. While running the grocery store I was buying space ads in specialty hunting magazines advertising accessories for dog hunters. I decided to buy an inexpensive mail-order course to start learning the catalog business. I started by collecting and processing the names and addresses of the customers at the grocery store. When I’d collected about 3,000 names and addresses, I mailed my first catalog.
I realized the need for a direct catalog for hunters. I felt that with direct response from a catalog my competitors were going to be lost.
CS: What was your biggest initial challenge(s)?
BB: I didn’t see a challenge that I didn’t think I could handle. Looking back today, learning the most effective way to place products. I also had a hard time with pricing, trying to keep an eye on the competition at the same time keeping an eye on the bottom line.
CS: How did you deal with them?
BB: Reading the mail-order books and writings of some of the experts in the field, like David Ogilvy, Max Sacheim, Vic Schwab, I learned to put merchandise on the front and back cover, which many catalogs don’t do. Everything I’ve read says that pages two and three are the most effective pages to sell. The books and articles acted as a reference guide when I had a problem/question. I also began to stress the benefits of owning the product, rather than the individual features. Everyone’s selfish to some degree.
CS: What have been your keys to success?
BB: I realized as the years rolled by how much the electronic dog field was growing. We started to incorporate the electronic products into our catalog, buying from the electronic manufacturers. We were able to integrate the products by analyzing all the available products and only offering the best. Our number one line of collar offers a lifetime warranty.