B-to-B Prospecting: Dig Deeper for Better Names
B-to-B catalogers’ prospecting list strategy has never been more important.
Why? “You have a universe of shrinking names,” says Kim Lowenthal, executive vice president at American List Counsel. “To put it simply, the volume of business names is less than before.”
Plain and simple, fewer names for prospecting can slow sales growth. And many mailers trace sluggish sales to list universes that shrank years before they felt the decline on their top lines.
To meet your file growth goals, you’ll probably need to use several prospect list selection techniques and strategies. And by selecting the best lists from a variety of sources, you can develop a robust prospecting plan — even for small, vertical niche catalogers.
Many B-to-B mailers focus on their response rates and get frustrated by lists that respond with fractions of percentages. But that metric only tells part of the story. “You go for your lifetime value for customers,” Lowenthal says. “A list that didn’t seem to perform very well might look pretty good after 18 months.”
If your database management or customer relationship management system calculates this metric, you’re ahead of the game. If not, you may have some numbers to crunch. But it’ll be worth the effort. With business catalogers, especially niche marketers, the quality of customers usually is more important than the quantity.
Why Quality Matters
One B-to-B cataloger not long ago discovered a key fact about his customers’ lifetime value: New customers who ordered less than $50 worth of merchandise in their original purchases caused his company a serious problem. These customers made a second purchase less than half of the time, compared to the new customers who purchased more than $50 worth in their first go-round. Why the difference? In a word: SoHo (or small office/home office). Drumming up business from SoHo customers is a great way to make a few bucks on the side, but it can wreak havoc with B-to-B marketing.
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.