Targeting Doctors Provides Healthy Boost

Mailing to medical professionals is just what the doctor ordered for the Arthritis Foundation. After redesigning its catalog and refocusing its circulation to doctors rather than their patients last year, the Atlanta-based foundation realized a stunning 279% in sales, from $0.31 per book in 1998 to $0.87 for 2000.

The revamped catalog carries more books, pamphlets, and videos, says director of product marketing Amy R. Matthews, “but the best thing we did was retool the catalog to gear it toward healthcare professionals.”

Previously, the catalog sold books and videos to both doctors and laypersons. Now most of the items it sells target doctors offering advice on assorted arthritis treatments. Although the target audience has narrowed, the product selection has broadened. The new book offers approximately 100 SKUs, nearly twice as many of the previous version.

The redesign, which was executed by New York-based creative agency Courtney & Co. after the nonprofit organization’s initial meeting with catalog consultancy Muldoon & Baer, converted a pamphletlike 4″ × 8″, 12-page catalog into an 8-3/8″ × 10-3/4″ 16-page book. Whereas the former catalogs were usually black-and-white except for the color covers, the redesigned book is four-color throughout.

Courtney & Co. also added a table of contents and an index, and organized the products into categories. The catalog highlights certain pamphlets — which it sells in quantities of 50 or greater — with hero photography. And it includes a rating system indicating how popular various products have been with doctors.

Doubling circulation

Even though it now mails only to doctors, the catalog kept the same circulation as the earlier incarnation — 150,000-plus books mailed a year. But Courtney & Co. president Mark Courtney said at press time that this year’s annual catalog, which dropped in September, would mail to about 300,000 physicians.

“We may split out one book this September and one next spring,” Courtney says. “Then next year, we’ll hopefully mail it four times, changing only the covers.”

As for those arthritis sufferers who no longer receive catalogs, the foundation sends them fliers and direct mail packages containing multiple product offers. “It makes sense for us to mail this way for now,” Matthews says. “But we have not ruled out mailing catalogs to consumers in the future.”

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