Collegiate Pacific's Sales Campaign Hits a Sweet Spot

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Sports-equipment manufacturer and distributor Collegiate Pacific's summer sales campaign, using a combination of catalogs and telemarketing, brought the company's average invoice up 47 percent.

The average invoice increased from $311 to $458 during the five weeks of the campaign, which started July 1, said Mike Blumenfeld, CEO of Collegiate Pacific, Dallas. During the final week of the campaign, which ended Aug. 25, the company achieved a record-high response rate of 500 orders for the week.

Collegiate Pacific targets institutional buyers of sports equipment, such as schools, community groups and parks departments. There are too many local suppliers of sports equipment to direct market the goods to individual consumers, Blumenfeld said.

During 1999 and through June of this year, the company's sales agents at its inhouse call center contacted the approximately 200,000 people in its database, drawn from both purchased lists and those developed on its own, Blumenfeld said. The purpose was to ensure the accuracy of the list and to prevent people from receiving catalogs if they did not want them.

"We don't just rely on a mailing list," Blumenfeld said. "We take the list and telemarket behind the list."

Blumenfeld also credited his company's customer-friendly attitude. Customers who call during business hours do not get phone messages. Collegiate Pacific does its telemarketing inhouse so it can hear what customers have to say and tailor its catalog accordingly.

"Your list can be great," Blumenfeld said. "But if you don't have the right products, you're dead."

Conversely, offering the right product and having the wrong list can kill profits as well, Blumenfeld said.

Collegiate Pacific received 2,000 orders from the 105,000 catalogs it dropped at the beginning of July, Blumenfeld said. The average invoice increased sequentially each week of the campaign, first to $330, then $370, $400 and finally topping out at $458. It was a rate of increase Blumenfeld said he had never seen before.

The campaign netted a 3.5 percent response rate, up from just over 2 percent two years ago. The company believes any response rate more than 2.5 percent is profitable, Blumenfeld said.

"We were shocked," Blumenfeld said. "We knew we had done good, but we didn't know how good until the numbers came in."

The company also has formed partnerships with several Web businesses to feature its products online. Online sales still represent less than 3 percent of the company's total business. Collegiate Pacific is exploring that avenue further, but has no plans to start a Web site of its own at this time.

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