"The fastest way to make money in the catalog business is to mail more frequently to your known customers," says Maxwell Sroge, owner of Maxwell Sroge Co. Inc., a mail order consulting firm in Evanston, Illinois. In addition to that advice, Sroge offers the following pointers to mail order entrepreneurs who want to beef up their profitability:
1. Create packages, and offer them at a savings. Put together bundles of related products, and sell them as a package at a discount.
2. Up-sell or cross-sell. When a customer is on the phone, try to increase the volume of the order. This is called up-selling--offering a special on two or more products of a similar type. Another idea is to try to sell related products to the customer (this is known as cross-selling). "Once somebody is on the phone and you're doing business with them, it's usually easy to move them into another category," says Sroge. "It's the same telephone call; it just takes a few more minutes."
3. Ask suppliers to pay for space in your catalog. Also known as co-op advertising, this can be a great way to make printing your catalog mutually beneficial to you and your suppliers.
4. Ship fast. The rule in the mail order business: The quicker you ship, the more orders you'll receive. "People want things very fast today," says Sroge. "They want immediate satisfaction."
5. Offer bonuses for large orders. Reward customers who buy in bulk with bonuses (this might include discounts or additional merchandise). After all, by purchasing large quantities of your products, they rewarded you first.