Spend it wisely

About a year ago, I bought a printer cartridge from a large office suppliers’ online store. Since then, I have received a seasonal catalogue, every couple of months with over 500 pages of office ‘must-haves’ such as ergonomic chairs, reception area seating, desk fans and all sorts of other things I will NEVER need. I might need another printer cartridge sometime. Or perhaps a ream of paper or a notebook.

How much is it costing them to produce and mail this directory to a completely irrelevant audience?

Just a small amount of research at the point of purchase would ascertain that I was a sole trader with a limited need for office products. I really don’t need a new office chair every 3 months.

How about a re-think?

Of course it makes sense to keep in touch with past customers, as they may well become regular loyal ones. But it’s important to be sensible about it, and to spend money on nurturing new business according to the potential value of that business.

If you’re likely to secure a sale worth thousands of pounds then it’s worth investing some serious marketing money. But for the sake of £50 or £100 once a year? I don’t think so.

There are so many options for keeping in touch that could be more effective. So here are my recommendations:

  1. Find out who your customer is – what sort of budget and needs are they likely to have (this could simply be a couple of check boxes on the order form.
  2. Monitor their spending – if they haven’t bought anything else since their first purchase, cut back on the expensive marketing and keep in touch another way.
  3. Incentivise people to give you more information so you can get more accurate information e.g. fill in this customer survey and claim your free pen/paperclips/stuffed toy.
  4. Use appropriate materials – does it have to be a heavy, expensive catalogue? How about a leaflet with a few carefully selected products appropriate to your audience?
  5. Vary the communication channels – mix it up with an annual catalogue combined with interim leaflets, postcards, or emails.
  6. Know your sales cycle. When do customers normally buy again? If you still haven’t heard a peep after this time, change your tactics … or remove them from your mailing list so you can concentrate your efforts on more lucrative prospects.

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