Guild.com Tightens Prospect List Focus

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Art cataloger Guild.com expects its spring 2002 book to have higher sales than the 2001 book despite mailing to fewer people.


"I am planning on a 10 percent increase in sales over last spring despite a reduction in circulation, and that is based on historical performance of the lists that we have selected as well as product performance," said Scott Treadwell, executive vice president, retail, at Guild LLC, Madison, WI.


The spring 2002 book dropped March 4 to about 200,000 people, a "small single-digit percentage" decrease from last year.


"The Spring catalog's house file circulation is 10 percent of the total circulation this year," he said. "The house file represented 6 to 7 percent of last year's spring mailing. The increase is due to the combination of the growth in the house file over the previous year and working with more targeted outside mailing lists.


"We have a lifetime customer value that tells us the cutoff point at which we can continue using certain lists. We're probably using about 60 percent of the lists we used last year, and we're taking more names from those lists that worked well for us."


Treadwell described recipients of the catalog as "85 percent women, with household income over $100,000."


"Over the last year our dollar-per-book performance has continued to improve," he said. "That has to do with the fact that we're targeting an audience that may be somewhat insulated from economic conditions."


The spring 2002 book has more products than last year's spring book.


"We're at about 250 items in the current book and maybe it was two-thirds of that last spring," said John Anderson, vice president of marketing, retail at Guild LLC.


"The increase in our product density adds to the appeal of the book, up to a certain point. Because all of the work we sell is shipped from the artists' studios, we put a lot of emphasis on the artists. And while we print the artists' names and where they're from, along with many vignettes about their creative process, we've backed off using big artist features in favor of many vignettes and more products per page," he said.


Because orders are shipped from the artists, Guild.com eliminates the inventory and shipping issues that face most catalogers.


"We don't have damage, warehousing and items that don't move," Anderson said. "We're the central clearinghouse. We process the order and handle payment. We notify the artist and the artist ships it out from the studio. We have about 100 to 150 artists that we work with. We shoot for a week or a week-and-a-half from receiving the order to shipment."


Orders placed are split evenly between those placed over the telephone and at guild.com, but Anderson said "the catalog is a great stimulus for Internet orders [and the company is] handling [fewer] calls. The catalog is still a critical component because they're comfortable with it, but when it comes to the order, they are more comfortable with buying over the Internet."


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