Advertise your catalog to the right prospects

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Make sure your catalog advertising is targeting the right people
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The right leads when you advertise your catalog reduces costs, boost sales

If you're in the catalog marketing business, there are a few facts you probably already know.  One, printing and mailing costs are high, and keep getting higher.  And two, catalog sales continue to be a great source of revenue, if you get those catalogs into the right hands.

The challenge, then, is the right hands part.  Some people opt for mass mailings, hoping that a few of those new catalog recipients will become customers.  But there's a smarter way to advertise your catalog -- one that will reduce overall costs, while increasing the chance of conversion. It's called targeting.

The tricks of targeting

Targeting means you carefully select those groups of prospects who are most likely to buy your product after they receive your catalog,  There are several approaches to it...the right way depends on the nature of your business and your high-converting customers. Here are some tips and tools to consider as you plan for your next catalog drop.

Start with the buyers

If you've been in the catalog business for any length of time, odds are you have good data on hand to help you identify the kinds of people who buy. Start by sorting your buyers lists several ways, including by location, gender, age (if known), products or services they bought, length of time as customer, repeat business, or orders per year. 

Watch for patterns that show identify your prime buyers. These high points in existing buyer patterns are the first clue in your next catalog advertising campaign.

Make note of the high (and low) characteristics of existing catalog buyers before moving on to the next step.

Add in the non-buyers who received your catalog

If you have good records, you should also be able to identify non-producing catalog mailings.  These are people or households who received your catalog but did not make a purchase. 

Ideally, people should not be placed in this group unless they've received at least two catalogs without make a purchase. In any case, you should not count people who just received their first catalog.  New customers often take a few weeks or months to place that first order.

As with the buyer profile, identify as much as you can about these non-shoppers.  Again, look for trends in location or other factors.  And once again, make a list of your findings.

Now compare to buyers to the non-buyers

Sometimes, you will have an almost equal split between buyers and non-buyers for a given demographic. In general, unless you can refine those characteristics further (for instance by narrowing down location to neighborhoods instead of cities or towns), these factors will not help you in deciding to whom you should send or advertise your catalog.

Pull out the high and low points that don't overlap

If you've done your homework well, you should now have a good picture of which groups of people are more likely to buy from your catalog.  At this point, you as a catalog marketer have several choices.

  1. You can now target your catalog advertising and new buyer prospecting efforts towards people in the high producing groups
  2. You can also choose to include (or exclude) the neutral demographics in future advertising campaigns.  This could be a factor of cost, as well as the sheer people power required to ship catalogs to non-converting addresses or advertise to low result prospects
  3. If AOV (average order value) for certain low success groups are high, you can adjust your marketing or catalog to appeal more to that group
  4. You can target different advertising to different demographics to increase appeal on their unique terms
  5. You can eliminate prospecting among low-result demographics, freeing up more advertising dollars for prospects who are more like to convert
No data to start with?

If you haven't been keeping good records on catalog sales by buyer, address or other factors, now is the time to start.  These catalog sales and orders metrics are critical to maximizing your advertising dollars, and bringing in the right prospects for your catalog. It's not too late if you start today.

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