Catalog Doctor: Stop Wasting Resources
What a waste. New ideas are great — keep ’em coming. But also keep your eye on the ball. Have priority meetings to review available resources. Who “owns” each project? Can they handle that and their regular work? What are the relative costs? Which projects are likely to deliver the best return?
Prioritize by tabling some ideas. Then focus on others that maximize the return on your resource investment.
Q3: Will a higher-up kill the program?
Not long ago, a very large branded goods company — we won’t say who — decided to launch a catalog. The book was merchandised, designed, photographed and printed. Then the CEO saw it and hated it. Just before mailing, he ordered all the catalogs trashed.
What a waste. All that time, work and money. When starting any project, review it with everyone who needs to sign off on it. If there’s someone higher up who can pull the plug on your project, be sure to get a sign-off before you carry it too far. Don’t pull the trigger unless you know someone else won’t pull the plug.
A common error in these first three examples is not thinking things through. You can avoid waste and grief by carefully plotting out the twists and turns your project could take and their consequences. Think more, act less, and you can avoid a great deal of waste.
Q4: Will a missing comma really lower sales?
It’s great to have a style sheet and ensure every “i” in your catalog is dotted and every “t” crossed. But strive to get it all right early.
What a waste. The later you make changes, the more expensive they get. When you reach the last minute, limit changes to the super urgent — wrong SKU, wrong price, wrong photo. Learn to live with the changes you didn’t make, even if they’re pet peeves. Inconsistent comma use or an extra space never lowered response, so they’re not worth a high cost or the risk of missing a deadline. Do get these changes fixed on the Web, though, and make a note to fix them in your next print run.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.