Strategy Sharpen Your Circulation Skills
Altering your market's demographics is a merchandising change that can take place only over an extensive time period. Match the prospect lists you're testing with your merchandise in terms of consumer demographics. And then do this consistently.
3. Take Ownership of the Plan
Get extremely involved in developing the actual circulation plan. Build the plan from the bottom up and not from the top down to demonstrate whether or not management's goals can be achieved. Take ownership of the plan, and revenue and order forecasts.
If there's a disconnect between the plan you create and what management expects to achieve, speak up. By doing the proper bottom-up planning, you'll take ownership of the numbers that actual results are being compared to daily and weekly.
4. Test and Test Again
When you're faced with objections such as, "Our customers would never …" or, "They always …," fall back on this truth, "But you can't be sure unless you test." For example, we've looked at the recent trend of consumers ordering late during the holidays. Just a few years ago, it was difficult to convince management to mail past the middle of November. By suggesting a small test later in the season, we proved that catalog shoppers will buy closer to the time of actual need — a trend that's continued. Late shopping during the Christmas buying season definitely is here to stay.
Another point about testing: Often, ideas are rejected before they're even tested. But the great thing about the catalog business is that just about everything can and should be tested. Replace opinions and conjecture with concrete tests that can yield results and provide the correct direction for future plans.
5. Be Realistic
Circulation planning is based on historical results, not on wishful thinking. For example, if a mailing generated $2 per catalog mailed for the past three years, it's unrealistic to assume it'll bring in $3 or more per book. You can manipulate the figures in the budget or on your circulation plan to satisfy management's goals, but there won't be an accurate relationship to the actual results you achieve.