"Initially when we came to the project, we didn't dive into beefing up the customer acquisition right away because we didn't know where they were in terms of numbers," he explains.
Once Wolferman's started to examine the state of its list, things unfolded. What was a 170,000-name housefile in 2000 was knocked down to a 125,000-count file a couple years later through data cleanup efforts. "Some households were getting four, five or six catalogs. So there was a lot of room for savings. Discovering all of these duplicate customers might sound really bad, but it wasn't seen as a bad thing, but rather as an opportunity to cut waste," Trollinger says.
Pushing List Prospecting Up a Notch
Once it had cleaned up its database, Wolferman's was able to build fresh—and it's been doing that for the past couple of years with great success. From a low of 125,000 names in 2002, the cataloger has worked to build its 12-month housefile back up to a mailable level of 215,000 names at the start of this year.
"Over the past two years, alternative media and increased outside list acquisition efforts have played major roles in boosting Wolferman's prospecting and increasing its new customer base," Brady says.
For the five to six years prior to Wolferman's acquisition by Williams Foods, it wasn't doing much customer acquisition beyond limited ad placements in the local gift guides—for example in the Kansas City Star—Trollinger says. In addition, since the product was sold in some grocery stores, customer acquisition also took place in that retail channel through some on-package promotion of the Web address, which had driven Web site activity.
"We [still] promote the Web site on the Wolferman's packages, and people are fairly sensitive to that," he adds.
Currently, Wolferman's mails 10 million catalogs a year, with approximately 80 percent, or 8 million of those, dropping in the fall/holiday season. Wolferman's prospecting is about 90 percent catalog mailings, 8 percent to 9 percent space advertising, and about 1 percent Internet, Brady says. (It tested telemarketing a few years ago, with some modest success, but is not pursuing it any longer.)