The Best Predictor of Catalog Sales

What’s the best predictor of catalog success?

Early sales.

That is, the performance of each list and segment is usually set in the first two weeks of a campaign. Things settle down after that.

Veteran catalogers know that a campaign that starts hot stays hot. And one that starts slowly? Don’t ask.

Early trends are reliable when forecasting the full life of the catalog. You can compare sales on a weekly basis for the first two or three weeks, year-over-year sales, sales compared to the plan or to budget and sales compared to the last campaign.

This allows you to do several things.

You can highlight home run and strike-out products to better manage inventory and demand. You should also get a snapshot of the effect of promotional offers.

The earlier you get results, the easier it is to calibrate future mailings.

How? By cutting back on circ that isn’t working, or ramping up the circ that is. The sooner you can identify the marginal prospecting names, the quicker you can prune them and preserve profitability.

Jim Coogan is president of Santa Fe, NM-based consultancy Catalog Marketing Economics.

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