Ribbon Catalog Strips Out Contact Info

The Image Award Line 2004 catalog does not contain the company's phone number, e-mail address or any other contact information.

That's because the business-to-business marketer of ribbons, badges, medals, sashes, buttons and identification products mails its catalogs solely to its house file of dealers and distributors who, in turn, sell the items to consumers.

“We rely on our repeat business, and we have to service our existing customers who call on a weekly basis,” said Jeanette Cerce, manager at Image Award Ribbons, Portsmouth, RI. “I have customers calling who send me 15 to 20 orders each day, so we have a good size database, and some of them generate a quarter-million dollars of business a year.”

Included with the catalog was a sample of a ribbon as well as a “Dear Distributor” cover letter from Cerce containing contact information such as e-mail address, phone number and fax number.

She explained why prospecting was not part of the mix while mailing its catalog.

“Retail catalogs go after satisfying desires, or an impulse purchase,” she said. “Unless there's a real need for our product, it's not sold.”

The most recent catalog mailed Sept. 15, with its previous version having mailed two years ago.

More than 2,000 of the 28-page books were mailed, targeting about 1,500 companies. Customers generating at least $5,000 in sales during the past two years got four books, which recipients distributed to their sales representatives. Two catalogs went to companies that ordered more than $1,000 of merchandise in the past two years. One book was sent to firms with sales above $50 and those not purchasing in the past nine months.

About 80 customers were sent four catalogs, with 224 getting two books and about 1,300 receiving one. Also, about 500 requesters are expected to receive the catalog in the next 12 months.

“We deal with the middleman — the trophy dealers, sports and athletic retail shops or the promotional and advertising companies who buy from us and who then turn around and resell [the merchandise] to the end user,” she said.

Cerce's letter states that prices in the catalog are “all suggested retail” and that “your net cost is actually 1/2” of the amount shown.

“When a consumer calls us, we refer them to a dealer in their area,” she said. “If they don't want to show the catalog to their customers, they don't have to. The reseller can mark up the prices in the catalog, or mark them down.”

Square top ribbons, pointed top ribbons, tape top ribbons and stock flat ribbons are expected to be the current book's best sellers. Depending on size, pointed top and square top ribbons are priced as high as 88 cents apiece for orders of less than 100 to as low as 26 cents each for orders exceeding 15,000.

The company expects the average order to rise to at least $200. The 2001 book generated a $150 average. The expectation is attributed to the introduction of Express Medals, described as “IN STOCK! SHIPPED WITHIN 24 HOURS!” Also cited are the economic turnaround and higher prices in some categories of 1 percent to 5 percent.

Sales channels, and the percentage of catalog sales that each are expected to generate, include: fax (80 percent), phone (15 percent) and e-mail (5 percent). The book's total per-piece cost was placed at $1.61.

The company will mail a new book in September 2004 when products now being developed will be available.

The company's membership identification numbers in three trade groups — the Awards and Recognition Association, the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialties Institute — appear on the cover.

“Many distributors won't buy from a company that's not a member of one of these organizations,” she said.

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