You’ve Got Homework!
While your mailing list is the most important asset in your catalog business, your in-house database is the key to optimizing your mailing list. Relational databases are powerful marketing tools that allow catalogers many opportunities for understanding their customers and learning how to mail smarter.
How do you use your database to its full potential? Dave Kuncicky, chief executive officer of equine catalog Chamisa Ridge, uses his company’s database to segment its customer base into product categories and to “find interesting things about customers. If you have several nonintersecting groups of customers based on what they buy,” he says, “you find two classes of customers that have completely different marketing strategies.”
Continuity buyers, for example, don’t buy on impulse and can be mailed to much less frequently, whereas gift buyers do buy on impulse. “So, you have two different marketing plans based on a 30-minute exercise,” Kuncicky says. “If you can interact with your database and write a little bit of SQL code, you can answer questions in minutes that would take hours to figure out by hand.”
Tracking trends in product categories is tedious, but with a couple of lines of code you can see if widget A shows a decreasing trend, and if widget B shows an increasing trend; you can catch these trends easily, Kuncicky says.
Acme Tools uses its databases to produce vendor-exclusive catalogs by finding buyers of that vendor’s brand. “We deliver highly targeted promotions by mailing only to the buyers of a particular brand of tools,” says Vice President Paul Kuhlman. “It’s a win-win for us and for our manufacturers.”
What are some other ways catalogers can profit from their databases? Here are few.
Small Housefile Segments
* multibuyers vs. singles;
* buyers in multiple product categories;
* buyers who’ve only bought in a single product category;