Catalog Request Site Expected to Launch Today
"I'm not familiar with any other lead generation program or catalog request program that would put their money where their mouth is," said Jonathan Chavkin, who serves as co-president with Budhi Prajogi of iCatalogInquiry.com Inc., Sherman Oaks, CA.
The site has signed three catalogers to use the service: art poster and replica cataloger Basil Street Gallery of London; European home and garden art replica cataloger Design Toscano; and men's and women's exotic swimsuit catalog Sun Up Sun Down.
The company mailed a promotional kit this month to approximately 500 consumer catalogers, including L.L. Bean, Lands' End, Brylane, Chadwick's of Boston and Hammacher Schlemmer.
But a catalog request service seems more feasible for smaller, specialty catalogs, according to Bill Dean, president of W.A. Dean & Associates, San Francisco.
"But Lands' End, L.L. Bean -- I don't think so," Dean said. "They're putting a Lands' End between a rock and a hard place. If I go up on a site and order a Lands' End catalog, and I don't get a Lands' End catalog, I'm going to be mad at Lands' End. I'm not going to assume that it was the guy in between that screwed up."
iCatalogInquiry has roughly 50 product categories, ranging from cigars to puzzles, and intends to expand the offering, according to Chavkin. The site will not feature an adult category, he said.
The company will list catalogs on its site at no cost through the end of this year.
"We want the catalog companies to understand the value of this offer first," said Chavkin.
Beginning Jan. 1, iCatalogInquiry will charge catalogers 35 cents per lead. Leads will be e-mailed to catalogers on a weekly basis. Catalogers can terminate their participation with 10 days' notice.
In August, iCatalogInquiry will begin advertising online on search engines, including Yahoo, Infoseek and AltaVista, as well as specialty sites, but it expects to reach most catalogers via direct mail kits touting the free service.