Cataloger's Prospecting List Yields Strong Response

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The first two mailings of the Poland by Mail Spring 2001 catalog have produced higher-than-anticipated prospect response rates of 2.5 percent and 6 percent, respectively.


"The industry average is 1 percent, and I was hoping for 2 percent," said Jarek Zaremba, president of Polart Distribution USA, Sarasota, FL, which owns Poland by Mail. "We've had other lists that didn't work as well as we would have liked. This time around we did something a little different, and I'm very pleased with the results."


The "something a little different" was purchasing infoUSA's PowerFinder CD-ROM with 800,000 names of Polish origin, which the cataloger then gave to Abacus Direct, Broomfield, CO, to create a more targeted list of 90,000 names. Abacus matched the names with names in its database, looking at customers' buying patterns in the past 24 months to determine which names would be most beneficial to the cataloger.


Poland by Mail used the Abacus list along with 60,000 names in its house file to mail 150,000 spring catalogs. The books were circulated with three drops of 50,000 each in a two-month span. The third drop took place three weeks ago, Zaremba said, and the company does not yet have results for that mailing. Poland by Mail circulates 600,000 catalogs a year and produces three to four books a year.


"We're always prospecting and looking for lists that work well for us," Zaremba said. "Besides using Abacus, we also exchange lists with other companies. But we're always on the lookout for additional [lists] that will help grow the business."


The catalog was created in 1992 and targets Polish immigrants and Polish-Americans with annual incomes of about $60,000. The average sales order from the current catalog is $90, which is the same for previous catalogs, Zaremba said.


The 24-page, color spring catalog, which was designed inhouse, has close to 350 items, including jewelry, swords, sabers, crystal, books and CDs. Prices range from $1.50 for a button to $4,495 for a 17th-century suit of armor with helmet.


"There is not one particular product in the catalog that does better than another. Everything in every category does well," Zaremba said. "We're constantly adding new things to the book, and what we've done in the past is eliminate items that were not paying for its space and kept those items that have done well. That's an ongoing process."


The catalog also lists its Web address on the cover of the catalog and throughout the book. Zaremba said the listing drives traffic to its 6-year-old site, www.polart.com, which features close to 4,000 items. The site gets 10,000 to 12,000 unique visitors each month.


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