February 01, 2008

When Is The Best Time To Send A Catalog To Support A Retail Event And Drive Multichannel Sales?

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I'm often asked what the best timing is for sending a catalog that supports a retail event. Here are a few guidelines for you to consider.

Let's assume you want to mail a catalog to support a retail event.

First, identify (via test and holdout groups, not via matchback analytics) the channel that benefits most from the mailing of a catalog. If the channel is the telephone channel, you'll probably have to mail the catalog at least three weeks ahead of the event, with a Monday/Wednesday in-home date. If the channel that benefits the most is the retail channel, you'll probably have to mail the catalog 1-2 weeks ahead of the event, with a Wednesday/Friday in-home date.

Similarly, you ask yourself who the majority of customers receiving this mailing are. Catalog/Online customers prefer Monday/Wednesday in-home dates, while Retail customers prefer Wednesday/Friday in-home dates.

The combination of these questions yields a matrix that tells you when to send the catalog, and tells you the expected performance of the catalog on a grading scale of "A" (excellent) to "F" (poor).

In many cases, the management of the dominant channel in your brand will require you to execute your mailing to give their channel the best chance of success. The grid helps explain the impact of compromise --- one of the things that multichannel pundits don't talk about much --- the fact that compromises to accommodate channels reduce the overall ROI of a catalog campaign.