'Smart Change' at ACCM
One of the best takeaways for me from the recent Annual Conference for Catalog & Multichannel Merchants (ACCM) in New Orleans was the need to be open to “smart change,” a term I “borrowed” from Sarah Fletcher, creative director of Catalog Design Studios, a catalog creative consulting firm. She said, “The big take-home for me from this year's conference was No. 1, don't panic, and No. 2, be open to smart changes.”
In a session I moderated at ACCM called “How to Survive and Succeed Despite Tough Times,” Fletcher gave the following example: “I heard a lot of talk about moving to slim jims, but, as Mary Ann pointed out in her roundtable discussion, they don't pull the same weight as a full-size catalog. There's a place for slim jims as a sale book or an off-season mailer, but saving a little bit on postage and getting a big drop in response is going the wrong direction. You'd do better to trim your circulation and stay with a full-size book. Don't panic, and test before you make any big changes.”
I couldn't agree more. The days of simplistic answers are as gone as the days of not targeting segments of customers or not being mindful of return on investment.
In fact, the discussion of slim-jim catalog formats was a popular one. Gina Valentino, president of Hemisphere Marketing, observed: “The Q&A after the panel session that I led was an arena for attendees to share their current challenges and discuss how best to manage budgets for the third and fourth quarters. The discussion about the potential changes to slim-jim (maximum letter rate) specifications led to a revealing opportunity to mail flats rather than slim jims. Identifying significant postage savings with co-mailing combined with the cost and less user-friendly three tabs pending on a slim jim are causing mailers to rethink their strategies."