George Hague

George Hague

A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George’s expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie’s Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter’s catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.

Think Small Data

When I was in school, there was a guy on our basketball team who could dunk like it was nobody's business. Left hand, right hand, two hands behind his head, you name it. He also had the unfortunate habit of dribbling the ball off his foot and ricocheting it across the court. He sat the bench.

2 Must-Have B-to-B Metrics

Smart CEOs know two essential B-to-B metrics to successfully grow their businesses: contribution per order (CPO) for new customers and life-time value (LTV) of existing customers. They may sound difficult to figure out, but the process is actually easy.

Unorthodox But Effective

Sometimes an odd suggestion can really turn a company around. Here are three nontraditional recommendations that have significantly improved sales for B-to-B direct marketers:

Is Your Company a Tribute Band?

Tribute bands pretend to be something else. Their motivation may be out of admiration, but essentially these musicians copy successful bands right down to dress, hair style and accent. Tribute bands appeal to a subset of fans of the bands being imitated. They limit their potential by pretending to be musicians perceived to be more talented than themselves. Is your company a tribute band? Are you constantly pretending to be your competitor? Here are some ways to tell:

Mine Gold Nuggets in Your Consumer File

Many consumer catalogers have unknown gold nuggets in their database. These nuggets are called businesses. If you treat these high-value customers as if they're retail customers, you're missing a big opportunity. If your product line has this cross-over appeal, you could potentially double your sales through expansion into the B-to-B universe.

Show Me the Data

Concerned about privacy? Now you can see what data has been collected on you. I was in for a shock. In an admirable move toward transparency, Acxiom, one of the largest data collection companies in the world, will show you a summary of your personal data. You can see its view into your world at The shock for me? Acxiom got me just plain wrong.

We Cut Cable: What This Means to Retailers

Our cable bill doubled. Apparently we had an introductory rate — which lasted more than five years. We had nearly 500 channels, and nothing ever seemed to be on, so we cut cable. Cold turkey. Even returned the cable company's DVR full of unwatched episodes of nothing in particular.

The Illogical Song: What Makes Sense vs. What Works

It's official: J.C. Penney scrapped its every-day-low-price strategy for the rollercoaster world of markups and markdowns. Merchants, marketers and graphic artists waited with bated breath, hoping J.C. Penney could make this strategy work. Imagine the time it would save! Price changes and errors would be a thing of the past.

3 Ways for B-to-B Retailers to Save Marketing Dollars … and 1 Way Not To

True confession: I love it when mail quantities in the United States are down. Although this trend is overall bad for our industry, in the here and now it's good news. The reason? There will be less competition in the mailbox for my clients. As a result, their response will soar. Catalogs and direct mail continue to drive sales for niche and specialty B-to-B companies, but a question persists: Through web optimization, can't you get all of these sales by spending a lot less money?

My Copywriting Lesson From the Pope

The Roman Catholic Church needs a serious brand makeover. It's gotten so bad that the previous CEO, aka Pope Benedict, gave his three weeks notice. Since he couldn't cite wanting to spend more time with his family, he intends to devote his life to prayer. Prayer? This brand really needs help. In selecting its new boss, the church's board of directors, aka the College of Cardinals, had to pull a rabbit out of their mitre. And did they.

4 Steps to Better B-to-B Data Decisions

Making decisions with data requires a mysterious process called data mining. The term brings to mind a cadre of programmers in darkened rooms, illuminated only by the eerie glow of their monitors. The whole process sounds complicated and expensive. It can be, but getting started doesn't have to break the bank or require rocket scientists. In fact, introductory data mining is simple and cost effective. The key is starting with these four easy steps:

A New Toy to Play With?

As the price of postage continues to rise, it's time for B-to-B marketers to get out there and actively explore new ways to reach their customers who bypass the USPS. It's time to consider digital catalogs as part of your media mix.

Catalog Curb Appeal

When you’re selling your house, you plant flowers in the front yard, keep the lawn mowed and maybe touch up the trim with fresh paint. Your home’s curb appeal catches prospective buyers’ interest as they drive by. You have just a few seconds to convince them to step on the brake instead of hitting the gas. The same principle applies to your catalog covers.

Traits, Tips 
and Practices 
of Top 
B-to-B Retailers

The U.S. Postal Service has just wrapped up a postage sale for various mail pieces that included a QR code. When the USPS made the announcement, several respected and knowledgeable B-to-B cross-channel retailers asked me what a QR code was and why is the USPS so interested in them.

Best Practices for B-to-B Digital Catalogs

Q: "I'm thinking about creating an online version of my print B-to-B catalog. Any best practices here? Also, what are typical response rates for online B-to-B catalogs? — Steve Cates, director of e-commerce, Galls