Survival Strategies for Small Direct Marketers, Part 2 (1,269)
Is your merchandise concept sustainable and broad enough to grow the product line across multiple categories? Are you looking for category opportunities that will appeal to your customers but remain within your brand story? Do your products appeal to a broad enough audience so that prospecting opportunities are not limited?
While your product line may be limited, planning ahead for merchandise expansion will allow you to plan for growth.
Are you analyzing your transactional data to guide your merchandising decisions? Do you know how to build a square-inch analysis and how to take advantage of what you learn? An accurate square-inch analysis will outline product and category opportunities (and failures), price point opportunities and other meaningful trends. Are you paying attention to what customers are telling you on the telephone, and what products they're returning?
Active listening comes in many forms and reacting to customers' responses allows you to provide products that customers really want. Most small catalog owners or managers already are merchandise experts and do it better than any other core competency. But this doesn't mean they understand or have time to track or analyze important database information.
Do you have a process for communicating key information to your creative team? Do you hand off a pagination that is guided by analysis and takes advantage of key hot spots? Do your writer and designer understand the key benefits of every product and the reason it's included in the merchandise concept?
Many small catalogers forget the key sales tool is the catalog itself. Many times the creative presentation is left to amateurs. Your writer(s) and designer(s) are your sales team. If they don't know what they're doing, your catalog may not survive.
Are your writers and designers trained professionals who understand the rules of direct marketing? Do they understand how to sell using hot spots and eye-flow research? If you have a creative team on staff, be sure they've been trained to sell. If you're hiring outside, employ direct marketing creative professionals with proven track records.