Mrs. Beasley's Means Business for Holidays

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The launch of a corporate gift guide has lifted the response rate for all holiday catalogs at Mrs. Beasley's, a direct marketer of chocolates, baked goods and gift baskets.

Though 70 percent of Mrs. Beasley's customers are corporate, the company previously used only one catalog mailed to consumers and businesses. This year, however, the company created an early holiday corporate book that mailed in late September and a holiday corporate gift guide that went out the first week of November. Both 28-page books were identical except for the covers.

The early holiday book went to 90,000 recipients while the gift guide mailed to 325,000 businesses. Of that total, 100,000 went to prospects with the rest going to companies that bought or received gifts from Mrs. Beasley's consumer catalogs during last year's holiday season.

"I'm not spending a lot of money on prospecting," said Ken Harris, president/CEO of Mrs. Beasley's, Beverly Hills, CA. "Lawyers are our No. 1 customers, followed by the entertainment industry and the financial services sector. Doctors are our No. 8 givers, but our No. 1 recipients."

The average order from the two drops is $165, about what corporate customers spent last year.

"We did not forecast an increase since, during the current economic environment, many corporations were trading down in order to accommodate gift giving within their budget," he said.

A 20 percent rise in response rate over last year is projected for the corporate and consumer books combined, but Harris said the corporate gift guide is driving most of the improvement.

"The only difference regarding the copy in my holiday consumer catalogs vs. the corporate catalog is that we used bullet points as opposed to consumer prose, and it hits the highlights of what a corporate book is," he said. "What am I getting for my $39 as opposed to convincing the consumer to spend the $39."

The company introduced Standard shipping this holiday season in the corporate book, providing for delivery in three to five business days.

"In the past we only had Express or Overnight, so this enables us to offer a lower shipping cost option for items that are not time-sensitive," he said. "It brings us more in line with our competitors in the industry."

While most corporate orders are decided upon by mid-November, he said, recipients of the corporate catalog also got the consumer book in the final week of November.

"Once you start getting into December, the corporate client is thinking of his personal gifts, so we wanted to expose him to that as well," he said.


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