Getting Its House in Order
"We really focused on getting the house in order for the first couple of years, and it paid off," says Trollinger. In the first year alone, just by tweaking offer strategy, Wolferman's was able to add $500,000 to the bottom line.
Wolferman's revised offer strategy uses non-product incentives to play a key role in boosting prospecting response. Instead of giving product away at deep discounts, it now uses shipping incentives to get new prospects to order.
"We've utilized more shipping offers in the past few years, but tend to shy away from free shipping and instead focus on half-off shipping," Brady states. Of course, discounted shipping isn't quite as enticing as free, but it has proven to be effective for Wolferman's, she explains.
Wolferman's also keeps costs in check by mailing prospects the same catalogs as customers—it simply touts the special offers with an inexpensive black plate change on the cover form. Brady explains, "The [offer] we send to prospects might feature something more attractive in the form of a special shipping incentive highlighted on the cover."
Trollinger notes that Wolferman's makes the most of this production efficiency. "The cost of paper is going up and up. Printing is on the rise, too. It's very difficult for a mid-sized cataloger to do different versions for prospecting," he explains. "So instead, we take advantage of black plate changes. Simple messages and promotions can be stated for a few hundred dollars per change."
Another problem the catalog faced several years ago was a housefile list that was in a state of disarray. To an outsider, things might have appeared OK with 170,000 customer names in the housefile database. But, according to Trollinger, a deeper look revealed many duplicates. What was needed was a serious list cleanup and then some time to rebuild the list by investing in prospecting.