The Best Way to Manage Catalog Circ During the Downturn
Amid all the talk of the death of the print channel, particularly in light of rising postage costs (the USPS’ Summer Sale not withstanding), there are still companies that effectively use catalogs as part of their overall marketing mixes. (See the August 2009 cover story in the print issue of All About ROI on J&P Cycles as a prime example of one of those companies.) Add the current economic environment in with the rising costs of mailing catalogs, and it's easy to see people's less-than-sunny projections.
But it can be done, and here are a few ways to help you optimize ROI with catalogs as part of your integrated marketing mix:
- Your most recent response rates are the leading indicator of future response. Response rates have changed, so look to recent results and discount your historical results from last year.
- Recalibrate your circulation plan based on which housefile and prospect lists are responding above breakeven.
- Be able to calculate recent catalog results so you can analyze your recent results as quickly as possible.
- Review your promotion strategy — and your competitors’ promotion strategies — to see if you should be discounting to get sales.
- Pay attention to your competitors’ email strategies. Are they hitting your market with strong email offers? Make friends with Direct Media/Millard and get its E-mail Tracker Report. It's a great piece of competitive intelligence.
- Cut circ that's fallen below breakeven. Give up prospecting below breakeven, and focus on maximizing short-term profitability.
- Increase your contacts with your current buyers through catalog remails and/or email contacts. It's easier to get more sales from your current customers than prospecting for new buyers at a profit.
- Paper and printing costs are coming down. Review your paper prices with your printer to make certain you're getting current market prices. Printers are having a hard time filling press time because catalog mailers are cutting press runs while magazines have seen a big falloff in ad pages. The result: Printing and paper costs are coming down.