Spawn New Business
How to build a B-to-B program from your consumer catalog
By Steve Trollinger
Every day catalogers are looking for ways to grow the business and maximize the bottom line. Consumer catalogers, in particular, with tightly defined markets or highly specialized product offerings are constantly in pursuit of the next idea. Well, here's one to consider: Build a business-to-business (B-to-B) program from your consumer catalog platform.
Business buyers have a different behavior dynamic than consumers. They may make several purchases over the course of the year at $500 or $1,000 on average, compared to consumer buyers who may make three or four purchases for $50 or so. As a result, business purchases tend to have much higher average order values and better overall margins.
The sales effect of having business buyers on the file is obvious. What may be less obvious is that each business buyer, as well as every person it ships or distributes your product to, becomes a new prospect for a consumer offering. But how do you know if a B-to-B program is right for your consumer catalog?
Evaluate Core Competencies
To determine if a business offering is a fit for your consumer catalog, you'll need to look at the core competencies of your catalog business—merchandising, creative, marketing and operations. So, what do you look for?
The first issue to address is whether or not your catalog's core product offering is sufficiently suited to a business audience. Steaks, fruit, muffins, popcorn—they all make great gifts for Grandma, right? Why not client gifts, employee rewards and office party favors? Gift and food mailers probably have among the greatest opportunities of building business programs from consumer merchandise assortments.
Apparel catalogers also can build strong business programs provided they can differentiate their brands from the proliferation of business specialty companies. Lands' End is a great example of a company leveraging its appeal in the consumer marketplace to build a successful business offering.