Transcat Taps into Supplements

During the past two years, Rochester, NY-based Transcat moved away from aggressively prospecting with its 800-page master catalog, cutting its circulation steadily. Instead the calibration equipment and services company sent prospects direct mail pieces promoting just one or two products. But in January 2004 Transcat mailed a 48-page supplement to 225,000 prospects and 75,000 customers.

Transcat vice president of marketing Jay Woychick describes the supplement as “a way to get in the door.” Featuring only a small fraction of Transcat’s 25,000 products, the January mailing generated a 1% response, surpassing expectations. “We forecasted it to break even in six months,” Woychick says. “It happened in four, and we were pleased with the response so much so that we sent another supplemental catalog in April, and it broke even in three months.”

The April supplement mailed to 250,000 prospects and customers. Transcat gathered prospects by renting the subscriber files of 30 trade publications such as Control magazine and the member lists of organizations such as The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society. Woychick says that by doing matchbacks and analyzing which lists performed best following the January mailing, Transcat was able to dig deeper into the lists. Although Woychick says would not provide specifics, he says the April catalog supplement “got a better return in a shorter amount of time.”

Both supplements highlight noncapital products and less expensive items that typically wouldn’t require budgetary approval before purchasing. Items in the supplement range in price from a $4 utility gauge to a $5,959 automated pressure calibrator, while products in the core book range from $13 replacement batteries to a $11,510 advanced Temperature Calibrator. Transcat’s overall average order size is $900.

As a promotion, Transcat included a business response card offering a free hat or T-shirt when prospects returned the card or visited the Website and entered a customer number and catalog code. Prospects who contacted Transcat for the promotion received not only the hat or shirt but also a telemarketing call to follow up on their interest. Prospects who were converted to customers received the promotional item, a telemarketing call, and Transcat’s master catalog.

Both supplemental catalogs were mailed in single drops and received almost immediate responses from customers. “We dropped one on Thursday and had our first call on Tuesday. We had our first Web response that Saturday,” says Woychick. The response curve for the supplements was nearly half that of Transcat’s master catalog.

In fiscal 2004, Transcat distributed 400,000 pieces of direct mail, including catalogs, fliers, supplemental catalogs, and other promotional material, contributing to a 10.1% increase in its fiscal fourth-quarter net sales, to $15.3 million for the three months ending March 27. Riding the success of January and April’s prospecting supplements, which Woychick says contributed “significantly” to fourth-quarter growth, Transcat will again integrate supplemental catalogs into its marketing plans for fiscal 2005.

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