Kayaking, Partying & Profits
Last year, however, States reeled the prospecting in, returning to a circulation level of nearly 400,000. “We took a different tactic, trying to get the money back we invested in prospecting in 2005, while also focusing on strategic Web marketing and viral marketing,” he says.
Whereas an After 5 catalog mailed each month in ’05, the company last year only mailed for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and spring-summer editions, in addition to three books from Nov. 1 through mid-December.
“It takes any new cataloger three to five years to become profitable,” says Mike Hayden, president of co-op database ALEXA Marketing and former senior vice president of brokerage for the Millard Group, After 5’s list manager. “You have to build up your housefile to supplement mailings. He may have over-mailed a bit in spring and could’ve mailed more during holiday.”
Despite reeling in its circ, After 5’s ’06 sales came in level with ’05, States says. “We’ve developed an asset, our housefile,” he says. “We have a brand, we’ve gone through the school of hard knocks. Now it’s time to leverage and refine that.”
In addition to mailing catalogs more profitably, After 5 will focus more heavily on the Internet going forward. “We’re also putting greater emphasis on search engine optimization and search engine marketing,” States says, “because we’ve recognized them as much cheaper ways to acquire customers. We can bring in 20,000 to 30,000 more new customers a year with a very small outlay. On the other hand, on 1 million books, you’re lucky to get 12,000 to 15,000 new buyers.”
Comparable 2007 Circ
This year’s print mailing plan calls for comparable catalog circulation and sticking to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and holiday mailings. “That’s something I didn’t know in the beginning,” States says. “I thought a book in the mail every month would work. But you can bury yourself financially that way.”