The first quarter was a disaster for many merchants, but skin, hair and body care products company Murad broke records this past March with the highest monthly sales during the past 20 years.
It’s not just that beauty products tend to be recession-proof, either—although that doesn’t hurt. What is the company doing right? Casey Cochran, manager of print and retention, shares some secrets to Murad’s success:
• Customer touch-point strategy. If you don’t have one, get one—and quick! For every prospect or customer, Murad has an integrated touch-point set for them—through customer service, direct mail, catalog and e-mail—that welcomes them, educates them and cross-sells them, encouraging loyalty and ultimately increasing lifetime value.
• Analyze, analyze, analyze. If you are not taking the time to analyze customer response by segmentation, RFM and RFA and the profitability of your pages, you are shooting in the dark—and wasting money.
• Target the right people. Who you mail to is just as important as what you mail. If you aren’t doing behavior based segmentation, teach yourself how to do it.
• Alternate coverage of unit drivers with dollar drivers. Unit drivers will boost your response rate and dollar drivers will boost your average order value. You need both.
• Profitability is a result of two factors: cost and revenue. Don’t address just one, continue to look at both and always consider how these might affect one another. There are ways to boost revenue without increasing costs, and ways to cut costs without sacrificing revenue—but most of the time there is a trade-off.
For instance, last year we saved nearly 30 cents per piece by resizing our catalog to a slim-jim from a flat. The impact on response rate was minimal, but the overwhelmingly positive effect on ROI made it well worth the trade-off.
• Negotiate. You never know unless you ask, right? Times are tough for our customers, ourselves and our vendors. You can get some great rates right now, but you’ve got to ask for them. We’ve been able to get 35%-50% off initial quotes by asking for it.
• Your customers want value—so give it to them! Bundle your products, create bonus sizes, introduce gift with purchases—do whatever you can to provide more value to your customers.
• Don’t bury your offers—flaunt them! Place offers prominently on the cover, back cover and pages 2/3 and wherever else you have space. Remember, getting customers to open that catalog is half the battle. And by reinforcing your offer inside, too, they’ll be more likely to purchase.
• Create “newness,” even when there isn’t any. If you’re like us at Murad, you sell the same 80 SKUs over and over again, repeatedly featuring your top 15 or so products. Pitching the same product with the same copy can get old fast.
Customers love newness so take a new spin on your popular products when you repeatedly feature them. Themes can help with this.
For example, this pas spring we featured a “Flower Power” spread that talked up the benefits of botanical ingredients—it was a new spin on an old favorite. Product bundles are also a great opportunity to breathe new life into tired SKUs and to encourage cross-sell.
• It’s about selling, not about “pretty” design or flowery copy. Most people would benefit by making their products bigger and their copy smaller. A good headline gets your attention and communicates product benefits in three to seven words.
Try to keep product copy to 35 words or less. Create shortcuts for your readers; use violators to convey primary product benefits; communicate usage visually if you can; introduce short, concise product headlines above product copy if the item’s name lacks sizzle.
• Have fun! A catalog needs personality—so give it some! Play with themes. Spice up your copy. Change your design. Add customer reviews. Create a press feature.
Remember, you don’t have to be ”serious” to be taken seriously. Keep your customer engaged so your catalog will spend more time in the hands of your customers and less time in recycling bins.