Saturday, 27 July 2013

GET YOUR PRODUCT LISTED AND SOLD THROUGH


MILLIONS OF MAIL ORDER CATALOGS







An average mailing by a small, one person mail order company is



generally about a thousand pieces, and many such operators



rarely mail more than a hundred pieces per week. If you know



your conversion statistics, you know that the order return on



mailings is about 1% to 2% when using a rented list of names, up



to 5% or more when mailing to your own customer list.





Using those figures, the response rate would be about 2 orders



from a mailing of 100 when using a cold list, and about 5 to 10



orders when mailing to your own customer list for each 100



pieces mailed.





Contrast this to a major catalog mailing house such as Miles



Kimball, Hanover House, Lillian Vernon, Johnson-Smith or L.L.



Bean, each of whom might consider a mailing of six million



pieces a month or every few months.





Keep in mind that these are catalog merchandisers - mass



mailers, not manufacturers. Not publishers. Mailers!





They BUY what they sell from somebody. It could be from you!







WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR?





Catalog houses are owned and operated by extremely sharp people



and they are highly selective in the products they choose for



inclusion in their catalogs, so to even be considered, your



product must pass some pretty rigid tests:





1. Since some catalog companies specialize in a certain type of



merchandise, they will choose only what they think their



customers will buy.





2. Virtually all of them will want to test-market a product



(possibly only a hundred or so) before making a complete catalog



mailing. If the test shows promise, they will purchase a large



quantity (1,000 to 5,000 or more) for their roll-out mailings...



and continue to purchase such quantities as long as the product



continues to sell.





3. Catalog mailers want to deal as close to the original source



as possible, such as inventor, the patent owner, copyright



holder, manufacturer or publisher. The reason for this is simply



that these are people who can offer them the largest discount on



quantity purchases. If you are merely one of many dealers who



had to purchase the product from a wholesaler who purchased from



a distributor, who purchased the product from the manufacturer,



you would not be in a position to offer the lowest price to the



catalog company.





4. The item in question should be new and unique, not something



that's been around for years. Naturally, it should be a good



mail order item.







HOW YOU CAN QUALIFY FOR ACCEPTANCE





First and foremost, you must look and act the part of an



established, professionally operated business. This means you



must have printed stationery with a company name that coincides



with the products you are offering, and all correspondence must



be typewritten.





If that seems trite and elementary, you would be surprised to



see how many companies receive scribbled hand written notes on



ruled paper with wording such as "I would like you to include my



product in your catalog." Sorry, it just doesn't work like that.





Even if you are not the actual inventor or manufacturer of the



product you are selling, you can qualify to have it included in



a large mailers' catalog where everyone can profit from it.



Imports are very popular catalog sellers, for instance, so if



you locate a new item from overseas, you can arrange to become



the U.S. distributor. Yes, it means a sizable investment for



stocking inventory, but if you have faith in what you plan to



sell, it should be worth investing in.





Before offering it to any catalog mailer, however, it would be



in your best interest to test-market the item yourself. You



certainly don't want to offer a "loser" to a major catalog



mailer. You'll want to be sure this is something that will sell,



so everybody is happy with the deal. Perhaps even more



importantly, it will bond your relationship with the catalog



companies and they will be eager to do business with you the



next time you come up with a new product.







PRICING YOUR PRODUCT





This is crucial. A price that's too high means it will not be



accepted; priced too low and you will not make a profit - no



matter how many are sold.





Keep in mind that some catalog mailers specialize in low priced



($10 or less) items, while others have geared their sales to the



higher bracket of $50 or more. When making a list of catalog



houses to approach, check their catalogs for prices of their



current merchandise.





There are three basic levels of retail prices:





1. The pre-established price by owner or manufacturer





2. Actual dollar value based on production costs





3. Perceived value by prospective buyers





If you are not the primary source for your product, the



manufacturer may have already set the retail price along with



distributor and wholesale discounts, so you will have to work



those figures in any deals made with catalog companies.





Assuming you have pricing control (granted by the original



source, or you are the originator) you can set the retail price



according to the production costs which can be a 5-to-1 or 10-1



ratio. If the item costs $1 to make, you can set a retail price



of $5 or $10 on it, depending on what you think it is worth to



the consumer.







SIMPLIFY YOUR PRICE STRUCTURE TO COMPANIES





The most common price structures are usually set in various



quantities like dozen or gross; or, 100, 500, 1,000, etc. Don't



use these price structures when trying to interest catalog



companies in your product. Right from the start, give them your



rock bottom lowest possible price.





For examples, if your usual prices are:





100 @ $4.50; 500 @ $3.75; 1000 @ $2.75 and 5,000 @ $1.95





give them your 5,000 quantity price no matter how many they



order for their original test. Even if they only want 100 for



testing, give them your $1.95 price - but be sure to tell them



this is your lowest price that is for regular 5,000 quantity



purchases, so they know they're getting the good deal.







TIME TO CREATE YOUR PROMOTIONAL PACKAGE





Company buyers are busy people, so you'll want to make your



presentation quickly, clearly, and distinctly, eliminating all



fluff and extraneous material or wording that might tend to bog



things down.





Here's what you'll need:





Descriptive folder or flyer about the product (Information sheet)





Glossy photo of the product





Possible advertising copy (although they will probably re-write



it)





Terms of your sale, including freight charges





Brief cover letter





(Optional) Sample of your product IF it is small, light weight,



inexpensive, and if you think it will impress the company.





Send this mailing package via First Class Mail!





How many of these promotional packages should you mail? Only you



can answer that question, but here's a tip: Don't expect only 10



or 12 to produce much response for your product. It might



require 50 to 100 or even 500 such mailings before you begin to



see worthwhile results. Of course, a lot depends on the product



itself and whether it is for the general public or restricted to



a more selective audience.





Whenever possible, try to determine what type of merchandise



each catalog house offers before sending them your offer. If



they cater only to men and your product will be used primarily



by women, why waste time and money? The same would apply to a



low priced item such as $5 offered to a catalog house whose



clientele happened to be sophisticated or wealthy people



accustomed to buying merchandise in the hundreds of dollars.



Match your product with the catalog company's line as closely as



possible.







HANDLING THE BUSINESS





If your product is a good one and if you have made a good



impression in your promotional materials, sooner or later you



will get an order for a trial quantity.





Fill the order promptly. Use sturdy boxes and have your own



shipping label (printed with your company name & address) on



each carton, typing the catalog company's name and address with



the customer's shipping number above the name.







SELLING ON CREDIT





Unlike the conventional mail order business, selling to catalog



houses is not a cash-with-order type of operation. It's



conducted on credit, so you'll need invoices to send to your



customer after shipment has been made. There are a few



variations of credit terms, but the best for you will be



"Payment due EOM or 2% discount within 10 days. "EOM" means end



of the month following the date of shipment.





Use your best judgment whether you will ship prepaid or bill



your customer for the shipping charges.







HERE'S A FINAL TIP





If you can get some free publicity for your product along the



way, it can help you reach catalog houses in addition to



bringing you additional sales.





Check magazines that are read by the type of people who will use



your product and look for departments such as "New Products."



Many magazines carry such a department under different titles.





Send a publicity package to the editors which will include the



glossy photo of your product, News Release that tells who will



be interested in the product and why, and a brief cover letter.





If you get a few magazines to accept your offer, they will give



you a mention in their New Products department. This will in



turn bring you a few or a few hundred orders, depending on the



circulation of the magazines and how much demand there might be



for your product.





More importantly, it can link you up with some catalog houses.



They often scan magazines looking for new products to be



featured in their catalogs. Thus, instead of you contacting



them... they will contact you.





The end result is that it can bring you many retail orders as



well as attract a few catalog house buyers who will ultimately



sell your product in their catalogs.





If each catalog house mails 10 million catalogs a year, and your



product is featured inside, I shouldn't have to tell you how



many products can be sold this way. Better stock up now!

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