Using Alternative Formats to Stimulate Sales (1,342 words)
Use alternative formats to stimulate additional sales:
By Lois Boyle
Finding ways to maintain and even expand your business in uncertain economic times challenges even the most successful catalogs. With buyers exercising caution and the economy dipping, it's imperative to focus on stimulating sales and, there's no better way to do this than by presenting unique offers and formats to your existing customer base.
In most cases, mailing additional versions of the same catalog will generate the necessary sales to cover your costs. For a couple of reasons, however, you may not be generating the purchases that your customers are willing to spend, given the opportunity. First, many catalogers replace the outer pages around an existing core catalog. While this will work for several drops, customers may tire of getting the same catalog with the same format and product line-up. A unique format that looks different encourages customers to take another look. Second, a different campaign will allow you to adjust your offer, use a unique message or include seasonal or new merchandise finds.
In the first of this two-part series, we'll look at formats successfully used by other catalogers. It's important, however, that before you consider marketing new formats you keep a few things in mind:
* Alternative formats typically work with your customers only. Here's why: Customers, especially your best customer segments, are already familiar and satisfied with your brand and welcome almost any message you send to them. What's more, most of the vehicles discussed don't have sufficient space to present enough product depth or breadth for prospects to try you out.
* Always analyze your return on investment (ROI) and understand your financial goal. Anticipate that the average order will most likely be lower due to fewer product choices.
* Set up cells that break out your customer segments so that in the future you will know how deep into your customer file you can mail and still be profitable.