Spawn New Business
Consider using outer wraps, cover versioning, special inserts or special design treatments to make the offer stand out. Also use a copy tone and benefit statements that apply to the business buyer. Customer service, price points, delivery, partnership—these all take on a new meaning with the business buyer, so exploit the key benefits with your creative.
Building the Business
Take a hard look at the business buyers already on your housefile to understand who they are and what makes them special. Can you identify some unique characteristic about them that will allow you to better target them?
Next, talk with your list broker about your goals—which should drive your acquisition efforts. Are you looking for numerous low-ticket customers, or fewer high-end buyers?
Build an acquisition strategy that allows you to get new buyers at an acceptable loss level. Understand what you can afford to lose on new customers and build a plan to get them at or above that level. Establish offer strategies that attract good business customers. You may have a proven consumer offer set at a $50 purchase threshold, but the same offer to businesses may cut you short because it could have been promoted at a $150 price point with no ill effect.
Becoming a Partner
More than consumers, businesses expect relentless customer service. They want guaranteed ship dates, preferential pricing and specialized products. They want a partner. So if you haven't dedicated a portion of your customer service function to the 'business' business, make certain your customer service team can handle the responsibility. If not, you'll hurt your chances for long-term survival.
B-to-B offerings aren't for every consumer cataloger, but those that have the merchandise and service opportunity stand to build a lucrative profit center for their mail-order businesses.
Steve Trollinger is senior vice president of client marketing for J. Schmid & Assoc. He can be reached at (913) 236-8988, or firstname.lastname@example.org.