Spawn New Business
Hard goods mailers may not have the obvious opportunities that others might, but the potential is still there for building a business program.
The key is to be able to address a few fundamental issues:
>Is your core product suited to a business audience? Can you position what you sell as a corporate use item? Unless you have strong relationships in place with key suppliers, it's often difficult to establish a completely new product line to reach a business audience.
>Can you bring in ancillary products or services to address the needs of business customers? Do you have relationships in place that would allow you to bring in a mug and coffee, for example, to go with the muffins you sell to make a reasonably priced corporate gift? Can you put a logo on a product?
>Can you source products exclusively for a business audience? Exclusive business products says your catalog is "in the business" of selling to businesses.
>Are your margins strong enough? If you are a reseller of consumer electronics it may be difficult to squeeze the margins necessary from vendors or manufacturers to offer major price incentives to business buyers and still keep the bottom line acceptable. In this case, the challenge becomes cultivating those key customer service functions to build better customer experiences that allow buyers to see past price to how good you make them look to their bosses or peers.
Once you know for certain you can and do sell products that businesses buy, the foundation is set to build a program. From here you must address the creative platform, the marketing effort and the operations implications.
Looking the Part
The creative platform for a consumer business book doesn't have to be a complete re-creation or brand new design. It does, however, need to be directed at the business buyer. You still have to convey the message that your catalog is not only great for personal use, but it also meets their business needs.