September 06, 2018

Tactic: Catalog Effectiveness

The typical New England Catalog-Centric Brand behaves different than other catalogers behave ... not better, not worse, just different. They like to hear ideas, buckets-full of ideas, and they like to accept-reject ideas as they are being presented. It's just different than what you run across in other areas of the country.

So today I'm going to offer a series of tactics tailored to the New-England-Based Catalog Brand. Based on my Principles, if I were CEO, here's a series of tactics I'd implement, tactics that fit in with the 67 year old consumer that the New-England-Based Cataloger craves.

Tactic:  The company would become the market share leader of rural 67 year old consumers. Embrace the market that shops from catalogs, period. Own it. Having a website does not make a cataloger an e-commerce brand. You are catalogers. Period. Be a cataloger. Or abandon catalogs and move fully into the 37 year old demographic and move into the future. But that's not going to happen. So be who you are. 

Tactic:  The company would become the Awareness Leader among rural 67 year old consumers. If eight 67 year olds gather at a Farmer's Market in Bennington, my brand would be right there with 'em. We'd sponsor every single activity that aligns with a rural 67 year old consumer. Period.

Tactic:  The goal of the Awareness Program is to get the customer to sign up for email marketing and/or Instagram. Via Email and Instagram, my Awareness Team would tell a story. Think about this like Days of Our Lives or General Hospital. Those are old-school "Serials" ... daily stories. In fact, my Awareness Program would partner with Days of Our Lives and General Hospital (and Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune and Every Darn Aurora Teagarden airing on Hallmark). The Email Awareness Program would be separate from the Existing Customer Email Program.

Tactic:  The Awareness Program would saturate every single Over 55 community in the United States. If a theater in Sun City AZ was performing CATS, I'd underwrite the performance. If the Abba cover band is performing, I'm underwriting it. I'd underwrite golf carts so that my brand was on every single golf cart at the Pickleball court ... like the Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer of 25 years ago. I would start by hiring a half-dozen employees and task them with "owning" this community of prospects.

Tactic:  When a prospect clicks through an Awareness Email Campaign for the second time, kick out a Hotline Catalog that features 32 pages of the BEST WINNING ITEMS available.

Tactic:  My traditional co-op catalog program, search program, and Facebook programs are all calibrated to converting a Prospect to an Acquired Customer. Focus on BEST WINNING ITEMS anytime you are spending money.

Tactic:  When a prospect purchases for the first time, the prospect is entered into a Welcome Program. The next eight (8) weeks are CRITICAL to the development of this customer.

Tactic:  The Welcome Program includes an Email Program that cross-shops the customer into adjacent product categories ... since we all know that customers buying from multiple product categories are more valuable than customers buying from a single product category after controlling for recency, frequency, and monetary value.

Tactic:  The Welcome Program includes a special Hotline Catalog Program with customized catalogs. Based on what you purchased, Hotline Catalogs are kicked-out ... 32 (personalized) pages with BEST WINNING ITEMS in adjacent categories and HOT NEW ITEMS that the customer should consider. Marketing and Merchandising would partner on the HOT NEW ITEMS to feature. Each catalog would be different, based on the first purchase and prior clickstream activity. Your printer and analytics partners can handle this task. Your printer WANTS to handle this task.

Tactic:  The Welcome Program assembles clickstream data and combines it with purchase data to personalize the Email Welcome Program eight week stream.

Tactic:  The Welcome Program offers and OUTBOUND CALL to all customers who purchase via the call center. This call happens 10 days after a first purchase, and the call center employee is tasked with making sure that the first order was executed perfectly. The call center employee is given a list of 10 items that your vendor cross-sell algorithms think the customer would love. If the call center employee gets the customer to purchase an item, the call center employee gets 25% of the value of the item in cash. If the item is $60 with a $30 gross margin, the company gets $15 and the employee gets $15. I've got a hunch that the call center employee is going to care (deeply) about earning $15 every 15 minutes.

Tactic:  Loyal Customers move into my traditional catalog cadence. 24 mailings a year to call-center buyers and 8 mailings a year to online buyers. Every dollar I save via Online Buyer Optimization (i.e. fewer catalogs to online buyers) funds my Awareness Program. The Awareness Program fuels Customer Acquisition, and Customer Acquisition fuels the Welcome Program. The Welcome Program feeds my Loyalty Program, where I earn all of my profit.

Tactic:  All Email Marketing to Loyal Customers focuses on NEW MERCHANDISE. Period. These customers need to be dazzled, and they don't need to be dazzled with 30% off and free shipping. How else are you going to get New Items to become Winning Items?

Tactic:  Loyal customers get a quarterly mailing of 32 pages focusing ONLY on NEW MERCHANDISE. Your creative team is tasked with telling a compelling story that causes the customer to have to buy new merchandise.

Tactic:  Bring together all of your vendor partners, and task them with working together to create 100 actionable "persona" segments based on External Data, In-House Clickstream Data, and Purchase Data. Based on the 100 "persona" segments, ask your vendor partners to adjust their solutions to your Awareness / Acquisition / Welcome / Loyal / Lapsed framework. Demand that your printer and paper rep and social media agency and merge/purge house and boutique agency that features clickstream solutions all work together on your Loyal Customer and Lapsed Customer initiatives. Given them some flexibility so that they can test ideas that you wouldn't normally author, and reward them financially for the ideas that generate incremental sales/profit.

Tactic:  All salaried employees are paid bonuses when they exceed NEW CUSTOMER and NEW WINNING MERCHANDISE goals. These are the two goals that matter most, so reward all salaried employees for exceeding the goals, ok?

Tactic:  Give a small category to a team of < 30 year old marketers, merchants, inventory managers, and creative professionals. Give them a budget and tell them to do whatever they think is right to grow the category. Given them two years to achieve great results. If their ideas work, expand the program while promoting these individuals into positions of greater responsibility.

That's where I'd start.

If you are a New-England-Based Catalog Brand, how many of these tactics are you going to adopt? Again, this is just a start. Get 100 salaried professionals aligned under this framework and you're gonna have a thousand different ideas that yield fifteen things that succeed and the momentum takes your brand in a whole new direction.

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