Where NOT to Cut Costs in Your Catalog Business
Yes, most prospecting loses money on the initial send. However, track your 12-month and 18-month ROI on those prospects. If you're patient, you'll find a point at which each prospecting effort passes breakeven, at which point you've added a tidy new group of loyal customers. You must prospect in order to keep your house list stable or growing. If you seek stability, not growth, then you still need to test the prospecting quantity that delivers that stability.
If you must cut prospecting, just cut back enough to keep your 12-month buyer counts stable during a fixed austerity period.
Cutting page count can be a good thing … up to a point. Try not to cut back below the USPS postage weight breakpoint. If you're going to mail, you might as well mail as many pages as you can up to the point that mailing any more pages would increase your postage. That way more products will get in front of consumers, and you'll get the maximum response bang for your postage buck.
It's worth getting your mailing list as clean and deliverable as you can. Ask your merge/purge vendor and/or your printer what products they have that can improve your address hygiene even more. That means that more of your catalogs get in the mailboxes of potential buyers. Furthermore, names that get omitted due to good hygiene can be replaced with better names. It's worth investing more in improved address hygiene if you can apply even better list-cleaning products to your lists.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or email@example.com.