Million Dollar Multis

Want to make a quick million? Sure you do! I’ll tell you how. And no, I’m not a scammer.

Over and over again, when CohereOne completes a best practice review of the marketing program of a mid-size catalog company, we find an easy fix that delivers $1,000,000+ dollars straight to the bottom line. In this case, it’s all about the multis!

But, what is a multi, you ask? Multis are simply duplicate prospect names in a merge that you have rented from multiple sources. Most circulation managers were taught by their list brokers and data service bureaus the following conventional wisdom: combine lists or cooperative database models in the merge, randomly allocate the duplicates between the lists that will be mailed under separate key codes, and set aside the multis for a later mailing. This served the list industry well since it allowed the objective evaluation of lists that should be continued or discontinued.

$1MM Opportunity #1: Separate the unique and multi records into two (or more) segments for each list for tracking in the first mailing. Doing so provides visibility to what portion of the list is driving response. Very often, it is the multis that are driving the response of the list and the unique names should not be mailed because they do not meet minimal thresholds of response.

For example: previously a list/model of 50,000 records may have yielded an acceptable response for repeat mailing of $1.40 per catalog (LTV acceptable response was calculated to be $1.30). In reality, 15,000 multis in the list/model were performing at $2.00 per catalog; the 35,000 unique records were at $1.14, well below an acceptable response level. CohereOne recommends as a best practice to return the 35,000 records to a cooperative database to optimize and isolate an additional portion for mailing that will perform above $1.30; the balance of the names should discarded. You will make a piece of the promised million dollars by isolating clusters of under-performing names and NOT MAILING THEM!

$1MM Opportunity #2: Mail the multis! I am amazed at the number of catalog companies that do a merge for every drop and do not use the multis that they have paid for. In one case, we found a company discarding $250,000 of multis a year. Mailing rights must be used in subsequent drops. However, when ordering names from the co-ops for the same subsequent mailing, the file of multis must be sent to each coop as a suppress file. Otherwise, you are likely to get the same names back again. Eventually you drown in compounded multis with no way to use them.

$1MM Opportunity #3: Carefully manage the remail of the multis. If the multis are used in a remail of the same catalog with a cover change several weeks after the first mailing, one can expect a significant drop of response. While this fall off is usually about 30%, you should test to determine your catalog’s reduced response rate. The 2x, 3x, etc. segments of multis should be coded for separate response tracking. In the above example, if any multi segment falls below $1.30, in the future it should not be mailed the same catalog but be held over until a substantially new catalog is available for mailing.

Whether it is house file or prospects, the challenge of the skilled circulation manager is to break lists into as many segments as possible and necessary to isolate performing and non-performing records. Profits come from NEVER EVER mailing non-performing segments. Don’t follow old logic and mail entire models or lists without further slicing and dicing. It is much better to accept some losses discarding non-performing names than to waste the full cost of mailing a catalog. At the same time, be sure you use all of your mailing rights to the multis – the true gold identified in the merge.

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