Direct Selling: Straight to the Source
Answers to their questions, albeit qualitative, were focused on merchandising, creative design and offers such as:
• What format should the catalog take: standard 83⁄8˝ x 107⁄8˝, digest-size, square-size or oversized?
• What should the catalog look like from a creative design standpoint?
• What is the optimum number of pages to adequately present the product lines and give the book sufficient “heft” to feel like a catalog?
• What product categories are most important to loyal, repeat-buying store customers so that they can be emphasized in the catalog?
• What differences in design, format and product categories are important to customers versus prospects?
• What types of incentives are most effective to motivate good customers to action? For prospective customers?
Three creative presentations were prepared that represented a wide diversity in size, shape and presentation. Two of the creative versions were a fairly wide departure from what successful catalogers know works and produces the best results. The bottom-line answer repeated in each of the three geographical regions and with both customers and prospects was that everybody desired a more “traditional” catalog creative presentation. Had the company pursued a far-out, radical creative design and positioning, customers and prospects alike would have rebelled and been turned off by the promotion.
What these case studies point out is that research can take on many forms. Customer research should be geared toward what the marketer is trying to accomplish.
Clearly, a top goal for successful direct marketing companies is to better understand who customers are and what their attitudes are toward the company’s brand, catalog, Web site and store. Effective multichannel firms add research to their arsenal of skills to better connect with and meet the expectations of their customers.
Jack Schmid is president of J. Schmid & Associates Inc., in Mission, Kan. He can be reached at (913) 236-8988 or firstname.lastname@example.org.