Show Me The Data: Three Keys to Holiday Success

It’s later than you think: Holiday 2007 is already here. There is still time to execute your plans and achieve fourth-quarter success, but only if you have three things in line now. The keys to holiday success are: press time, historical review, and what you do in the next 57 business days – starting today.

If you are on a regular, far-sighted planning cycle, you should be almost ready to book press time for holiday 2008, not hoping that you can find time this November to get your catalog in the mail for December 2007.

If you have your press time scheduled, relax. If not, try calling a print broker. Print brokers prove their value at this time of the year. They work with many different printers and might be able to find you time to do several short press runs with one printer or to split your job and have more than one printer squeeze in the work to keep you on schedule.

Moving on to the historical review, find and review the post-holiday analyses you did last February. Spread your fourth quarter 2006 mail vehicles on a table and look them over. It’s time to do a creative, offer, and list audit. What worked last year? What offers did your merchants come up with that made your phones ring and your Web site approach overload? Which lists did you try that produced fantastic response rates? If you have used the same lists this year, consider doing some more analyses. Look at the seasonal and depth-of-list response rate analyses to help you decide if you should reorder them and how deep into each list you should go. Call your list broker and ask for recommendations about similar lists or other lists from the same sources. If you use a co-op database, ask your broker about additional selections across the database using prospect profiles or look-alike models. There is still time to explore your list and data resources.

While there is some time left to prepare and execute holiday plans, you need to act fast. If you want to have your mail in your prospects’ hands the first week of December, get out your calendar and work backwards. You have six weeks to do your research, run additional analyses, and find press time. You should place your list orders by the second Friday in October. That gives your broker two weeks to fulfill your orders. Your service bureau will need the next two weeks to run your merge/purge. Your printer will have two weeks to run proofs and print and assemble your mail. Your mail will go to the BMCs and SCFs the week after Thanksgiving and be in the hands of your prospects over the week after that. Then you can sit back and let your sales, Web, and fulfillment departments do their jobs in handling the huge response you have helped to generate.

Bill Singleton writes “Show Me The Data” each month for Lists and Data Strategies. He is a manager of analytics and consulting services at The Allant Group in Naperville, IL. He can be reached at: and 630-579-3448.

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