Catalog Choice operates a deceptively simple service: if you get too much junk mail (the physical kind — not spam), you can go online to the Catalog Choice website and opt out. That move between the offline and online requires some special consideration. The site was acquired by TrustedID in 2012. Scott Mitic, the CEO of TrustedID, sees the addition as a valuable part of the company’s identity protection and privacy services.
“Catalog Choice…was founded by environmental visionaries with a vision of reducing paper waste by giving consumers control over what goes into their mailboxes. The company first launched in 2007 and quickly became the leading mail preference service in the country, allowing consumers to opt out of unwanted advertising mail through a free online portal. It became evident Catalog Choice was not only a benefit to the environment, but also a valuable tool for citizens to protect their privacy and identity. Since its inception, Catalog Choice has processed over 26 million opt-outs for more than 8,000 marketing companies, ensuring the privacy and preference of millions of consumers,” says Mitic.
The question of how to market a service such as Catalog Choice is minimalistic — at least in terms of more traditional approaches. “Catalog Choice’s growth to date has occurred with virtually no marketing,” notes Mitic. “Media coverage, word of mouth, and search traffic have driven growth. Roughly 38 percent of users hear about us through PR; 18 percent of users find us through search; and 23 percent hear about us from a family member or friend.”
Word of mouth is particularly valuable for a service that has to be trustworthy, especially since most people consider junk mail a fact of life — something to be resolved with a larger recycling bin. Mitic points out that Catalog Choice does it exactly what it promises: “The service delivers. When we ask our users how much of their unwanted advertising mail stopped after using Catalog Choice, the most common response is 90 percent. Our customers are passionate about protecting their privacy and controlling who has access to their information and Catalog Choice delivers the ability for them to do that. This leads to users, including reporters and partners, to tell others about it. Referrals are one of the best ways to build trust.”
Even though the problem that Catalog Choice solves is essentially offline, it’s reasonable to expect users to go online these days. As Mitic points out, “I am not sure whether there is a primarily offline audience today. The internet is such an integral part of our lives but if we needed to put a larger concentration on reaching through offline vehicles, national print opportunities and broadcast media through public relations efforts and local radio would be great ways to get reach offline. For any company looking to acquire users on a budget, finding and partnering with companies that already have access to target customers is a strong opportunity to build your business.”