Security Console Takes Center Seat to Boost BTB Catalog

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A new product appearing on the cover of a recent catalog is helping increase the average order and the response rate for a business-to-business marketer of technical furniture targeting the security and broadcast industries.


The Winsted Corp., Minneapolis, featured a new LCD/3 security console on the cover of its 2004 catalog. The 370-pound, four-bay model, used by security personnel in office buildings, is priced at $3,283.


"We are happy with it," president Randy Smith said. "It took off surprisingly fast. Its selection for the cover was based on its technology, low cost, ergonomics and aesthetics."


Prices in the catalog range from $600 for a low-cost computer table to the installation of custom consoles manufactured based on specifics provided by end users that can cost up to $250,000. The higher-end options appear -- without prices -- on a four-page "Custom Solutions for Your Control Room" insert partway through the 180-page catalog.


"We can mix and match modular pieces to come up with a custom console," Smith said. "We're doing more custom consoles, and that's also helping to generate the results we're seeing."


Smith characterized the increases in average order and response rate as being "in the single digits" compared with last year's catalog. The book is one of three sent in February to a combined circulation of more than 50,000, which is unchanged from last year. Two catalogs targeted the broadcast industry, one listing prices and one that didn't.


"We have dealers who prefer that their customers not know the retail price because they put a lot of add-on features into the console, such as installation and freight," he said. "The reason we don't do a security version that does not contain prices is strictly a cost consideration for us."


Overall, only 5 percent of the circulation consisted of the unpriced broadcast version, while the balance was split between the versions with prices -- targeting the broadcast and security industries.


Thirty percent of the overall number of books went to prospects with names obtained from trade publications and trade associations. The roughly 20 publications from which prospect names were drawn included Security Dealer and Video Broadcast magazines.


"We do more prospecting with a smaller book that we produce, but very little with our big books," Smith said.


Three versions of the big book are mailed in February, May and September.


Fortune 500 companies are part of the house file.


"The broadcast side of the business includes post-production video editors who will order consoles and racks they'll use for video editing," Smith said. "On the security side, it could be anybody. For broadcast, we have the major networks, including HBO."


The company's toll-free number and e-mail address are listed throughout the book, but there is no order form.


"We're unique in that we take our direct mail order approach in such a way that we drive the order to our dealers even as we're forever getting our name in front of the end user," he said. "We have 2,000 dealers worldwide. Those who are interested in what we offer call the 800 number, and we get them in touch with someone."


The dealer network also receives the book. It is for their convenience that three holes are punched in the catalog, allowing it to be kept in binders.


"Nobody needs this unless a dealer can put the system together," Smith said. "For a closed-circuit system in an office building, you need [someone] who will install it. With all of the wires and cameras, hardly anybody buys a console by itself, whether it's a producer at NBC in Rockefeller Center or the warden of a prison."


The SKU total exceeds 1,200.


"We've been able to drop and add products to keep the number of pages consistent," he said. "About 15 percent of the products are new compared with what we had last year."


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