Survival Strategies for Small Direct Marketers, Part 2 (1,269)
By Lois Boyle and Steve Trollinger
Last month we discussed five major pitfalls for catalog marketers, the problems that arise if your catalog business stumbles into any one of them, and how they can be avoided. This month we pose several questions focusing on five pitfalls and how they relate to the catalog core competencies of merchandising, creative and marketing. Ask these questions of your own catalog.
As a refresher, the five pitfalls are:
- No obvious road map—having no long-term plan for marketing or financial performance.
- Lack of systems/controls—not having the systems to effectively execute the direct marketing fundamentals of targeting, communicating, tracking and analyzing direct campaigns.
- Suffering from the Mighty Mouse syndrome—hindered by trying to do it all.
- Database blundering—not capturing the data that you need or not being able to use the data you have.
- Unrealistic identity—lacking understanding of the niche you fill in the market.
Let's look at the core competencies.
Most new or small catalog owners begin with a merchandise concept they believe the market needs. In direct marketing, it's imperative that the concept develop and grow into an authoritative set of products that is constantly refined and updated to meet the needs of a growing customer base. Your ultimate goal as a merchandiser should be to get customers to think of your catalog first when shopping in your category of products. The following questions will help reach that goal:
Does your merchandise concept provide products that fill a unique market need? Have you positioned this concept as if you are the authority? If you share this category with other catalogs, have you provided a twist that is uniquely yours? Do you track your competition to hone your unique niche?
Understanding your merchandise niche and staying true to it allows your customers to quickly identify the unique benefits you provide.