Sales Topper or Door Stopper?
10 steps to help create staying power for your big book
By Gina Valentino
As a business-to-business (b-to-b) cataloger, you know that your large catalog is an essential selling tool, as well as a brand differentiator. Its benchmarks of success may include strong revenues, remarkable customer response and overall profitability.
A good strategy for any catalog's mailing frequency should be based on the book's anticipated order-response curve. But when you create a large b-to-b catalog that's expected to have a shelf life of four, six or even 12 months, how can you ensure that it keeps selling well during its entire campaign?
The following 10 steps can help.
1. Understand the order-response curve. This is defined as the lifespan of the catalog — from the time the book drops in the mail until the last order is taken. This metric typically is influenced by page count, merchandise assortment, customer segments mailed, promotional offers or a seasonal ending date, such as a holiday or a sale expiration date. For example, a sale catalog mailed to your best customers will have a quick order-response curve — perhaps less than four weeks. Most orders will come in the first two weeks, and by week three, nearly 85 percent of all orders for the life of that catalog are tallied.
A big book with a long shelf life has an order-response curve, too. To help determine what it is, review your customer segments to see which customers are buying and how frequently they're purchasing. A merchandise-category review will indicate the seasonality of merchandise, subsequent purchase requirements and product preferences. And understanding who is buying is as important as when they're buying. Once identified, you'll see the lulls in the order-response curve and be able to verify strong performance in certain customer segments and merchandise categories.