Glass Marketer Sees No Cracks in Catalog Strategy

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A start-up direct marketer of high-end glass products plans to distribute just 500 catalogs this year, but projects that each one will be a moneymaker.


"We expect that every catalog that goes out the door will produce between $500 and $1,000 per year," said Jack Healy, president of Glass Artists Gallery, Bellevue, WA. "A small ad in a magazine was not the way to go for us. We felt direct mail was the only way to tell the story."


Glass Artists Gallery, which began operations in January, targets interior designers and architectural firms working on commercial and high-end residential projects. Hospitality design is a sizable niche.


The catalog is a three-ring binder with sections including lighting, sinks, wall art, architectural glass and furniture. One benefit of the binder style is that the company can easily send updates when it adds new works.


"We'll do a new printing every three to four months of new artists' works or new works from existing artists," Healy said. "We'll print new pages that will be sent free to catalog purchasers."


Glass Artists Gallery charges $50, plus $6 for UPS shipping, for each catalog, though a mailing in mid-February to introduce itself to designers offered the catalog for $39.95, plus $4 shipping. In addition, the purchase price would be credit against the customer's first order.


The mailing, which has generated 100 catalog sales, went to 15,000 interior designers and architectural firms in Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Idaho, Utah, California, Arizona, Colorado and New York. Three lists of 5,000 names each were used from Interior Design magazine, Period Homes magazine and a D&B listing of architectural and interior design firms.


"We didn't want to blanket the country," Healy said. "That would have meant a mailing of 60,000. We wanted to test this to see if we were using the right copy and the right lists."


All the states but New York are in the West, closest to Glass Artists Gallery's Washington home. New York was chosen after the company had money left over in its budget and decided to try one state in the East.


The per-piece cost was about $1, most of which was for printing.


Copy on the envelope reads "At last -- the nation's finest GLASS ARTISTS are now available to you from a single source ... to provide one-of-a-kind glass for your one-of-a-kind project!" Inside was a two-sided pitch letter and a form to request the catalog.


The form also advised recipients that "for even faster service, call us toll-free at 1-877-320-0800, or order online at GlassArtistsGallery.com."


All 15,000 recipients received a follow-up postcard mailing reminding them of the catalog's availability at the reduced price.


The site launched just one week before the mailings went out. It drew 700 unique visitors in the three weeks after the mailing compared with 50 visitors the week before the mailing.


"About 40 of those have ordered the catalog online," Healy said. "We've also received 40 orders via mail and another 20 through our toll-free number. In addition to the 100 catalog orders, two to three times that number are using the site as their catalog."


The recession didn't cause any hesitation when considering the start-up.


"There's still money out there, and there are still projects out there," he said.


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