On top of that, Hodges Badge Co. was unable to test-mail a segment of its housefile the new catalog to gauge response efficiently enough, Hodges laments. At $14 million in sales and circulation of less than 400,000 catalogs last year, the company’s size is a liability in this case. With only a 25,000-book mailing of its general athletic catalog to kick off the new format, Hodges reasoned a test wasn’t cost-efficient.
“We looked at the cost of doing the book the old way vs. the new way and printing both, and I just decided that was something we couldn’t afford to absorb,” he says, regarding the production costs associated with printing the books in such a small quantity in each format.
So Hodges went against conventional catalog wisdom and ruled out conducting a test because it doesn’t mail enough books to bear the expense. Plus, the data wouldn’t yield a convincing enough response. “Think about what the production cost is to do all that work twice and only run 25,000 books,” he says.
One advantage Hodges Badge foresees from the new slim-jim format, however, is how the products themselves appear in the catalog. Most of the merchandise is long and skinny — ribbons, rosettes, medals — and in many cases better-suited for the vertical slim-jim format than a standard catalog.
Gives Customers a Heads-Up
The first slim jims started reaching customers in mid-August. A few weeks prior to the mailing, Hodges Badge sent an e-mail alerting its entire housefile of the format change. Rick Hodges also announced the change on his personal blog, with links for customers to preview the redesigned catalogs.
Although the company was still gauging response to the first slim jims at press time, Rick Hodges says he’ll be patient before making any future format decisions. The company plans to give the slim-jim format at least 18 months to prove its value before even considering another format change.