The Editor’s Take: A Lesson from the Trenches
In the 10 months I’ve been with Catalog Success, I’ve made it my business to ensure that virtually every article in this magazine, on our Web site, and in our weekly e-newsletter is consistent with our name: It’s all about success in the catalog/multichannel business and how to get there.
Same goes for “your partner in multichannel commerce,” our wonderful tagline I wish I could claim to have coined myself (but, my predecessors did, darnit). Bottom line: We want to help you make money by showing and telling you how successful companies and people do it.
In this issue, however, for at least one story we’re stepping away from the “success” theme just a little. It’s not that we only write about runaway successes for our cover stories, but we chose After 5/Surf to Summit in hopes that our readers can learn from its struggles as a start-up to what’s still a fairly small company that’s barely beyond breakeven.
When I visited Owner/President Eric States in After 5’s Santa Barbara, Calif., headquarters recently, I found him to be quite candid about his company’s struggles and failures. Here’s a dude who dropped out of the lucrative California real estate business in the 1990s and jumped into the catalog business cold, and has made quite a study of it.
There’s much to learn from Eric and his company’s success-in-the-makings. And since we certainly like to vary the mix of catalogers we profile from small to medium to large, I believe that a quirky company like After 5 will give you some ideas you can work with.
What’s more, you bigger folks can get something out of Eric’s story, too. “If people from larger catalog companies were to have the opportunity to sit down with him, they’d learn a lot,” says Mike Hayden, senior vice president of brokerage for the Millard Group, After 5’s list manager. “He needs to make every bullet count. He’s figured out how to do that, and is way ahead of most big company presidents out there, because they’re not getting their hands dirty the way he is.” (At press time, Hayden had just been named president of the newest of the catalog co-op databases, ALEXA Marketing — good luck, Mike.)