Catalog and Direct Selling: The Selling Season Is Upon Us
Here’s a last-minute checklist to see if you truly are ready for the holidays.
The fourth quarter’s started, the sales are coming in, the hard work is done and you finally can rest. Well, maybe not.
This is the time of year most catalogers enjoy; the time of year when all of the work and effort of the prior seven or eight months pays off. It’s when all of what was learned last year is put to the test in the form of revised marketing strategies, new creative initiatives, more efficient offer rollouts and better tracking methods. But it isn’t a time to stop and take a break.
Now that most catalogers’ primary selling season has begun, it’s time to fill in the gaps. This column is a brief checklist to provoke a little thought and help you make sure the “what ifs” are covered and your catalog business is ready with a well-defined in-season strategy.
First and foremost, every cataloger reading this should know how to put his or her hands on the catalog’s plans and goals for this season. More revenue, more buyers, more profits, whatever the goals, each person should know them and, just as importantly, what constitutes success or failure. What’s the margin of error for performance? By how much can you miss the target and still be satisfied with the outcome? At what point during the season do you know whether you’re way ahead, way behind or right where you need to be?
Without this knowledge, you won’t know if you’re surpassing or falling short of those goals and what to do in the event of either, which leads to checklist item number one:
Do you have a plan for dealing with being either ahead or behind your plan?
Being ahead of plan seems great, but only if you’ve planned for it. What happens if you’re rolling out a customer acquisition program that generated a 0.75-percent response rate on substantial test quantities last year, and this year the same offer generates a 1-percent response on double the circulation? This is fantastic, unless you can’t fill the orders because your inventory forecast was built on a conservative estimation. Being able to measure a campaign’s completeness and work with vendors to get additional inventory when needed is critical. Otherwise, a year’s sales spike could be wiped away as customers shop elsewhere because of poor customer service and fulfillment.