Should Catalogers Prospect Direct-to-door?

Many catalogers are questioning how they will use catalogs to prospect once the U.S. Postal Service’s rate increase takes affect next month. One San Antonio-based direct marketer thinks it could have an old-fashioned sounding solution – direct-to-door delivery.

Jim Schell, president of San Antonio-based ADS Direct Media, says prospecting in a direct-to-door manner could cost 30% to 40% less than postal mailing, and that’s based on the current USPS delivery rates.

“Right now, we love the postal increase,” Schell says lightheartedly, noting his company, too, has a direct mail division.

Much like an outdoor advertising company would, ADS uses geodemographic mapping –mapping which includes demographic and psychographic information about households – to target households down to a neighborhood level.

For example, Pepsi has been using ADS’s services to distribute magalogs in communities with a high density of Hispanics. In this case, it would use the geodemographic mapping to find neighborhoods in a city like Corpus Christi, TX, and determine from there where deliveries should be made.

For additional costs, but less than the May 14 postal rates, a cataloger could have ADS drill down deeper with its mapping and exclude non-Hispanic addresses, but says it would cost more for the cataloger to do that select than hit every household in a neighborhood that could be 75% of its target audience.

“Say The Sharper Image identifies a zip code with a high density net worth where they have a high response rate,” Schell says. “They can saturate the entire zip code or select certain neighborhoods and still pay the same rate. But when they add a select to remove a prospect, the cost rises.”

Once a target is reached, a team of delivery people would distribute the catalog door-to-door in a polybag, which can be printed in four-color, and hung on a prospect’s front door.

The catalog publisher, Schell says, can also track the delivery through ADS’s Global Positioning System (GPS). Though it wouldn’t determine which homes the catalog is delivered to, it would show if the delivery crew is in the correct neighborhood on the right day.

With the polybags, there is no size or weight limitation, meaning that odd-shaped or over-weight books would not need to confine to the new USPS standards. Schell says the company has had catalogers come to it with a range from 16-24 page catalogers to directory-size big books.

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