Catalog Doctor: How to Grow Your Small Business This Year
- New products: Bundle existing products — into a gift basket, for example — or line-list discounts on three-fers: "Save $5 on any 3 colors of this T-shirt."
- Top customer phone line: Do you have an in-house call center? Give your top 50 or 100 customers a direct line to your best customer service rep for special, personal service. Track sales over time for the 50 who got the number and the 50 who didn't, and see which performed better.
- Personalize: Talk to your printer. Many catalogers find that personalization lifts response, some- times significantly.
- Test email frequency: Many companies worry about overemailing, but the right timing can increase sales and delight your customers. Some email delivery providers make it easy to divide your list and test frequency (twice a month vs. weekly, weekly vs. twice weekly, etc.). Optimizing frequency to each customer group is a win-win.
- VIP mailings: Try catalog cover wraps, or 9˝ x 12˝ mailers with a catalog, or a #10 letter mailing. For content, consider a special thanks to your best customers with special offers or services, or volume discounts to get high rollers to buy even more.
- Email append: Do you have many customers on your mailing list without emails? Consider appending email addresses to your list. As a rule of thumb, expect a 50 percent append hit rate and about half the sales response of your regular email names. Follow your email append firm's aggressive opt-out recommendations — don't email names who say "no."
If something's fast, easy and cheap, it's worth doing, even if it lifts response only a fraction of a percent.
A catalog marketer I know decided to increase its green efforts. The company switched to certified forestry-sustainable paper for its catalog, and printed the certified logo on the back cover with a little message. Small changes like this won't deliver a huge lift in response. But they'll likely get some extra orders. That's worth minimal time (maybe four hours) and zero cost.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.