'Close Out' Teaser Gets Results for Movie Catalog

Appealing to people's inability to pass up a last-chance sale, Critics' Choice Video & DVD turned 15,000 leftover copies of its The Big Book of Movies catalog into a prospecting mailer that generated a higher-than-expected average order amount and response rate.

The catalog's publisher, Infinity Resources Inc., Itasca, IL, had set aside 25,000 of the 500,000-copy press run for requests as well as bookstores, newsstands and other distribution channels. But requests were slower than expected, leaving 15,000 extra copies.

“The problem was the number of catalog requesters has declined tremendously, which is because of the economy,” said Henry Arana, director of marketing and circulation for Infinity.

The solution was to slap a “CLOSE OUT! 25% End of Season” label on the front of the books and mail them to prospects obtained from competitors' lists as well as names obtained from Abacus.

The mailing's average order was $62, described as “pretty high” by Arana.

“We were impressed,” he said. “We were thinking it would be around the $55 mark.”

The response rate was 7.2 percent, compared with an expected 4.1 percent.

“We picked the right combination of names and the competitors' lists,” he said. “We didn't know it would work that well.”

The typical customer was described as ages 45 to 55, 65 to 68 percent male with an income of $45,000 to $65,000.

The 292-page catalog contains 10,000 movies, 4,000 of which are available in DVD. A table of contents on page 2 lists films by actor and by categories such as Disney Favorites, Contemporary Classics, Comedy, Westerns and War. Between pages 2 and 3 are coupons for free shipping, Priority Mail upgrades and price reductions tied to certain periods of time. Short biographies of actors and actresses appear in the catalog. An overall index as well as a DVD index are part of the book.

“Customers ask for movies based on the actor or actress, and the book was built from that perspective,” he said. “And customers always want to see what is new in DVD.”

The average price of movies in the catalog is $16 to $17.

About 65 percent of sales from the mailing came via phone, 25 percent from order forms mailed and 10 percent via criticschoicevideo.com.

Customers looking to take advantage of the 25 percent discount were asked to mention the five-digit promotion code that appeared on the label or peel the label and mail when placing an order. An expiration date of Dec. 10 was included on the label.

“Customers tend to respond in a faster fashion with an expiration date on the piece, even though the date was so far off into the future,” Arana said. “Aside from this effort, most of what we do is based on house file mailings. If we find ourselves in the same position, we will do this again next year since this was so successful.

“This was also an acquisition tool. We got a response rate and an average order amount that was much more than what we expected, and these buyers are in our house file now.”

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