Colonial Hardware Adapts by Adopting New Contact Strategy

When you’re competing with behemoths such as W.W. Grainger and Home Depot as well as local distributors, you‘ve got to adapt to survive.

And that’s exactly what New York-based Colonial Hardware, a distributor of tools and industrial supplies and the mailer of the Black Book of Tools catalog, is doing. The 74-year-old cataloger is sharpening its contact strategy in the hopes that it will stay top of mind with contractors and industrial customers.

Traditionally Colonial Hardware mailed a 760-page big book annually and several smaller (48 pages or so) books throughout the year. But this year it will mail catalogs that are smaller still—just 18 pages–of best-selling merchandise six times a year in addition to its annual catalog.

“More and more we are trying to refine the contact strategy,” says senior vice president Dennis Gronim. This year, customers might receive every mailing of the smaller book, whereas prospects might receive just two editions.

The company is also modifying its prospecting strategy. “In an effort to insulate ourselves, we’re trying to expand the number of small and medium-size customers we have,” Gronim says. “So instead of having one customer spend a $1 million with us, we are looking to have maybe 10 customers who spend $100,000 with us.”

Colonial intends to find these customers by using compiled lists and cooperative databases and will go to market through various campaigns such as telemarketing and postcards in addition to the aforementioned catalogs.

Colonial Hardware, which offers customers an assortment of tools at the guaranteed lowest price for next day delivery with free freight for a $200 AOV, targets plumbers and electricians in standard industrial classification (SIC) codes 1711 and 1731.

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