Phillips says the conversations are not scripted for the inside customer service team, although she anticipates it may create scripts for the outsourced call center reps Harbor Sweets uses.
The company does most of its prospecting in the fourth quarter, says John Martin, a circulation and marketing consultant who specializes in catalogs and who has been working with the candy company for the past 12 years. “The company does less prospecting than many other companies its size,” he notes. “Almost all prospecting is done through cooperative databases.”
It does, however, periodically use single-source rental lists, he continues, but they have not been as successful for the company as cooperative databases. Its rate of prospecting has been pretty steady during the past several years.
Until recently, Harbor Sweets has produced three catalogs per year:
• holiday, sent to about 300,000 names spread over four mailings from September through the end of November;
• Valentine’s Day, with a main mailing to 50,000 names, and a smaller follow-up book to 12,000; and
• Easter, with two drops—end of February to 65,000 and mid-March to 20,000.
This year, however, it’s testing a fourth catalog, Mother’s Day, mailed to 15,000 names. LeBlanc wants to lengthen the candy-buying season.
Currently about 70 percent of Harbor Sweets’ annual sales come in the fourth quarter. Catalogs are mailed mostly to proven buyers and former giftees, says Phillips.
To help get a better handle on customers’ buying behavior, Harbor Sweets is a beta site for Longbow, a new Web-based marketing service being developed by Loyalty Builders.
Harbor Sweets is using Longbow to help target customers who are ready to buy and to determine what products they’re likely to select. Longbow will help identify upsell prospects and create an early-warning system for customer defection so that Harbor Sweets can create marketing campaigns targeted at customer behavior patterns, according to a representative from Loyalty Builders.