11. Purge your file. When you’re doing a merge/purge, don’t pass more names than you need to. You’ll want to go a year (or two) beyond the last year you normally mail. But, for every record you pass, there’s a charge from your service bureau regardless of whether you’re mailing that name or not.
12. Combine merge/purges. Try running one merge/purge for two consecutive mailings. Bring in enough names so one merge can be split into two drops to help reduce processing costs. Caution: This is only possible if the mailings are fairly close together (i.e., four or five weeks apart). Of course, you want to mail to fresh names when possible.
13. Provide written merge/ purge instructions. Give your service bureau written instructions for every merge. Establish priorities for your merge, and re-use those outside multi-buyer names that hit on more than one outside list. Written merge/purge instructions will avoid mistakes and costly rerun charges.
14. Employ good data-hygiene techniques. This will ensure that: the data being keyed in is of the highest quality; similar records are identified during the merge/purge process; and your customers are properly categorized.
15. Combine print runs. This will lower your per unit catalog cost. Print multiple covers to make the catalog appear different. Avoid printing only one catalog at a time.
16. Avoid select charges on outside names. List selection charges add to the cost of the names you’re renting by as much as 25 percent to 50 percent. Don’t request certain selects unless you think they’re absolutely necessary.
Take, for example, a list costing $120/M to rent (base price). The manager wants an additional $41/M for a $100-plus dollar select. The average order size of this high-ticket gift catalog list already is $135. In this case, paying an additional $41, or increasing the cost of the list by 34 percent, probably is not cost-justified.
Steve Lett graduated from Indiana University in 1970 and immediately began his 50-year career in Direct Marketing; mainly catalogs.
Steve spent the first 25 years of his career in executive level positions at both consumer and business-to-business companies. The next 25 years have been with Lett Direct, Inc., the company Steve founded in early 1995. Lett Direct, Inc., is a catalog and internet consulting firm specializing in circulation planning, plan execution, analysis and digital marketing (Google Premier Partner).
Steve has served on the Ethics Committee of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and on a number of company boards, both public and private. He served on the Board of the ACMA. He has been the subject of two Harvard Business School case studies. He is the author of a book, Strategic Catalog Marketing. Steve is a past Chairman of both the Catalog Council and Business Mail Council of the DMA. He spent a few years teaching Direct Marketing at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.