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Using catalog lead generation as a tool

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Find the right people for your products using catalog lead generation

Find the right people for your products using catalog lead generation

What if you could generate new sales leads from data you already have on hand? That’s the idea behind using your own catalog as a lead generation tool. Is it possible?  The answer is yes, but we need to start with a little background information.

What is lead generation?

Let’s start with a definition.  Lead generation usually involves a business getting lists of well-targeted potential customers from a third party lead generation company.  If it’s done well, the match between potential customers and the company’s product is good and conversions are high. 

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If it’s not done well, you’ll have a list of people who may have little or no interest in your company. Either way, third party lead generation can be expensive. And in today’s economy, that can be a problem.

What’s the alternative?

Instead of paying a third party lead generation firm to generate lists of potential customers, many catalog businesses can tap into the data they already have to generate leads for new sales. This technique works well for businesses that meet these tests:

  1. Catalog sales data is available and includes metrics such as initial catalog request or catalog prospect date, purchases, frequency of repeat business and basic demographic data (address and gender, at a minimum
  2. The data is sufficiently robust to show trends.  A single year or two of sales is unlikely to yield lead-relevant data
  3. The business offers more than one product line or service type OR is planning on offering a new line in the immediate future
  4. Your purchasing and demographic data is in a sortable format, whether that’s a spreadsheet or database, or can be easily converted to a sortable format
~The internal catalog lead generation process

  • If you have more than one existing product or service line, start by separating sales for each line at the customer level.  If you’re just adding that new product line or service, skip this step.
  • Review the demographic and sales data of your existing customers, noting specific demographic characteristics of customers who bought the most in each product line and those who gave you repeat business in each product line.  (These two results may be different, or the same.)
  • Use that data to create a profile of the typical “good customer” for each product line, based on demographic characteristics like location, age, gender, etc.
  • Re-sort your customer records based on their demographic characteristics.  Do this for each element of demographics you have in your records. The result will be a set of lists of shoppers by gender, by location, etc.
Now comes the lead generation process

Let’s start with a company which already has several established product lines.

  • Match up the “good shopper” characteristics for each product line with customers who also fit within each demographic.  For example, if people from Idaho were most likely to buy left-handed widgets, sort your customer database to identify all Idaho catalog subscribers. 
  • Move through all available demographics for one product line before moving on to the next one. Keep track of ideal demographics for each product line or service type. If for example, those same left-handed widgets were more likely to be purchased by women than men, add that fact to the left-handed widget profile.
  • Continue through all the demographics.
The result will be a list of each product with the type of people who are most likely to purchase it

Finding your leads amid your data

The final step in the process is to identify the people who meet all or most of the “best shopper” characteristics but who are not buying that product.  These are the people to whom you need to sell…they are your new leads. 

The tools you use to sell to these leads will vary depending on the nature of your business.  In some cases, a smaller focused catalog will be best, while others may choose to market via e-mail, direct mail or even a telephone call. 

For the company adding a new line or service

If you’ve done your product homework, you already have a target demographic for the new item(s) — all you need to do is match that pattern with the sorted list above to identify the best leads.


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