“Chance favors the prepared mind,” said scientist Louis Pasteur. And while chance does play a part in the success of any marketing venture, you can nudge the odds in your favor with a combination of forethought and foresight, notes George Hague, senior marketing strategist for Shawnee Mission, KS-based catalog agency J. Schmid & Assoc. Here are five questions that Hague suggests you answer before sitting down with the next season’s circ plan:
1) Have you reviewed the same season’s mailing from the previous year? In other words, if you’re working on your fall 2005 plan, be sure you’ve analyzed your fall 2004 mailing first, to determine what worked and what did not. Decide what you should repeat and what you need to change. Review your response rates, list size, and average order values (AOV) for your house files, prospects, and tests.
2) Have you projected the season’s mailing on a list-by-list basis? Make sure this set of projections matches your goal and your budget. You want to feel comfortable with your assumptions of response rate, file size, and AOV per list.
3) Do you have a budget for testing? A good rule of thumb is to set aside 10% of your budget for testing. Sit down with your creative and merchandising teams to develop new offer ideas. Talk to your list broker about new lists to tests. If you haven’t tried a co-op database, consider doing so. By doing your homework now, you can determine which tests to run and how to fit them into your budget.
4) Have you considered all of your promotional channels? While you’re planning your catalog drops, take the time to prepare your e-mail promotions at the same time. Some catalogers get a response lift from having the print catalog coincide with e-mail campaigns. Now is the time to plan tests and challenge your assumptions. If you prospect with space ads, plan your insertion orders, creative, and offers now. Include your alternative media on your schedule. Work to develop an integrated seasonal plan that incorporates all of your channels. Make sure you have the same brand message across all channels.
5) Have you reevaluated your list universe? Contact your list broker for the latest data cards on your prospect files. Plan your list tests. Confirm when the list owners will update their files. If possible, adjust your schedule to accommodate the latest updates. Jogging a date by a few days to capture the freshest names can give you a 20% or higher boost on a prospect list.