Noelle Buoncristiano

Noelle Buoncristiano
Adventurous and Analytical

Responsibilities: Tim Kiss oversees HoneyBaked Ham’s catalog, Web site and retail direct marketing operations. A great save: In 1999, HoneyBaked Ham relied for the first time on an outside vendor for product fulfillment. A glitch in the vendor’s process caused almost one-third of HoneyBaked Ham’s orders to go unfulfilled. Kiss took control of the situation, and he and his team convinced HoneyBaked Ham’s upper management to mail apology letters to customers in an attempt to retain as many of them as possible; and to mail prospect catalogs to offset the customers they couldn’t retain. “In the end, our catalog production and circulation budgets that

Freshness Sells

Many business-to-business (b-to-b) catalogers fail to periodically refresh their creative elements and end up making common mistakes in copywriting, photography, layout and design. To discern if you’re guilty of stale or ineffectual catalog creative, ask yourself the following questions. “Am I employing copy that’s appropriate for b-to-b customers in particular?” “B-to-b products tend to be more practical because they’re meant to help customers solve business problems,” says Sarah Fletcher, president of Charlestown, R.I.-based Catalog Design Studios, a catalog consultancy. You can’t sell on emotion in a b-to-b catalog like you can in a consumer catalog, she continues. Gina Valentino, vice president and general manager

Ecology Wise

Environmental concern has re-emerged as an important issue for the direct marketing industry in the past few years. And the use of recycled paper is one of the issues that has been at the forefront of the resurgence. U.S. catalog companies mailed about 17 billion catalogs last year, using 3.6 million tons of paper, according to the Alliance for Environmental Innovation (AEI), a national nonprofit organization focused on environmental protection. “Catalogers are more aware of the environmental impact of their paper use and increasingly understand that reducing waste, maximizing recycled content and protecting forests are the right things to do,” says Victoria Mills,

On a Healthy Journey

The company’s beginnings: After Greg Cooper left for college, his father, Hal, bought a health food store, Arizona Health Foods, in their hometown of Phoenix. After numerous phone conversations regarding the business’s future, Greg left school to help his father open more stores. Arizona Health Foods catalog, which sell dietary foods and supplements, started out of necessity, explains Cooper. Soon after the third store opened, major road construction — slated to last two years — virtually shut down store business. “I had to find a way to sell goods,” he notes. He tested the direct marketing channel by first running a small ad in

The Paperless Catalog Comes of Age

Truly effective multichannel marketing is an ongoing challenge for most catalogers. Ultimately, you want to deliver consistent customer experiences across all your sales channels, right? Although there isn’t one formula for success, there are a growing number of multichannel commerce tools that can help you achieve that goal. One such tool is a virtual catalog, defined by Chicago-based the e-tailing group as an almost exact replica of your print catalog integrated by varying degrees into your Web site, as opposed to a simple menu of products. By using a virtual catalog, customers can experience the aesthetics of a print catalog as well as

Their Blossoming Business

How the company began: A little more than a century ago, Brent Heath’s ancestors began a daffodil farm in a small Virginia town. Today, the farm is a rapidly growing company that sells flower bulbs and related merchandise and is run by Brent and his wife, Becky. “I grew up in a business that I enjoyed, but didn’t like the dirty work,” Brent admits. Rather, he says he prefers teaching and sharing information. Catalog: Brent and Becky’s Bulbs has produced a full-color catalog for just two years. Previously, the catalog was merely a price list with some product sketches. Now it contains photographs and

Case Study: Massage Warehouse Cuts Delivery Costs

Problem: Massage Warehouse was receiving delivery fines from shipping companies and returned packages due to incorrect customer address data. Solution: The company implemented QAS’ software to validate addresses using U.S. Postal Service (USPS) data. Results: Delivery surcharges dropped by 63 percent, staff productivity significantly increased, and customer satisfaction grew due to faster delivery times. When both delivery surcharges imposed by shipping companies and the number of returned packages began to rise due to incorrect address formats, Massage Warehouse realized it needed to adjust its customer address data management. For example, the difference between “Strt.” and “St.” as an abbreviation for “Street” was costing the

Staffing for Growth: Focus on Human Resources

While heading up two businesses in the late 1990s, Mike Faith had difficulty finding quality telephone headsets at reasonable prices. Even more frustrating was the substandard customer service he said he found among the companies in that field. He realized he could fill a void in the industry. “My entrepreneurial opportunity radar went berserk,” he recalls. “I saw too big an opportunity and had to capitalize on it. … That’s very much my style.” Six weeks later (in 1998), with $40,000 in startup capital, Faith established San Francisco-based where he now serves as president. The company, which primarily sells headsets and related

Harmonize Your Sales Strategies

Today’s multichannel merchants continually are searching for viable channel-integration solutions — a seamless blend across the key points of customer interaction, including catalogs, Web sites, retail stores and kiosks. “Providing seamless integration communicates a consistent message to consumers and results in higher transaction values,” note the authors of the LakeWest Group’s Fifth Annual POS Benchmarking Survey 2004. But as most catalogers will tell you, achieving that seamless blend across all sales channels is more difficult than it appears to be. Following are a few tactics that can help you make the most of all of your channel-integration intiatives. 1. Take advantage


How the catalog began: “Founding a catalog was the last thing I ever expected to do,” says Donna Salyers, president of Fabulous-Furs. During several visits to New York in the 1980s, she realized she was one of few people without a full-length fur coat. “Instead of buying a coat that day, I was inspired to create a luxurious alternative.” After a year of laying the groundwork, Salyers’ brainchild — a catalog comprised of faux-fur products — became a rapid success. “When customers began calling from Hollywood, I knew we were on to something.” Grew up: Covington, KY Experience: For 16 years, Salyers

Wrap It Up

Although a catalog’s reputation often is based on its look and merchandise assortment, it can’t perform well without essential, behind-the-scenes assistance from the operations and fulfillment departments. Finding a product packaging solution that’s dependable and cost-effective — as well as one that fits your merchandise — is an ongoing challenge. The following products are headliners with positive reviews from several catalogers. As you embark on a search for new packaging solutions, keep these in mind. Product Inflation The Fill-Air Inflatable Packaging System, manufactured by Saddle Brook, NJ-based Sealed Air Corp., produces air-filled cushions for void-fill applications. In addition to protecting fragile merchandise, it also

Ingredients for Success

How the catalog started: Demand from outside of its market for products from parent company King Arthur Flour, coupled with the company’s commitment to the American tradition of home baking, provided the impetus for the introduction of The Baker’s Catalogue in 1990. “Calls were increasing from people who had previously lived in the New England area,” says Steve Voigt, president of King Arthur Flour, a 213-year-old company. “They’d ask us to send them some flour. It didn’t take too long to see there was a business there.” Grew up in: Westport, CT Education: After receiving bachelor’s degrees in mathematical economics and German, Voigt

Personal Creations Brings E-mail Marketing Home

Problem: Executives at Personal Creations catalog were unhappy with the performance of their outsourced e-mail marketing program. Solution: They implemented iBuilder to manage e-mail marketing internally. Results: Annual e-mail sales increased 70 percent, sales per e-mail went up 10 to 15 percent and e-mail marketing costs were reduced by more than 50 percent. After outsourcing to various e-mail service providers for two years, officials at Personal Creations were displeased with the performance of their program, including production time, distribution methods and service costs. They decided to bring their e-mail marketing program in-house. “We felt we could do a better job managing

A Sturdy Soul in Vermont

How the catalog was started: Vrest Orton had vivid memories of growing up in the general store started by his father in 1897. He and his wife, Ellen, eventually assembled those memories into a catalog, which was printed in their garage and mailed just to their Christmas card list in late 1945. And so began the success story of a family business. Not all in the family: Bob Allen joined The Vermont Country Store in 1982. He held various positions within the company, and in 1994 he was the first non-family member to be named president. Two years later he was named CEO. Allen

The Art of Science

Problem: Before Ward’s Natural Science could expand its catalog operations to the Internet, it needed to develop a central repository for the accompanying data for its more than 18,000 products. Solution: Ward’s installed Pindar Systems’ content management system. Data for all products are now stored in one central database. Results: Ward’s launched an e-commerce site that has resulted in increased overall sales; employees have saved significant time in their data-management processes; and Ward’s was able to reduce two full-time positions. When executives at Ward’s Natural Science decided to expand the catalog operations to the Internet, they knew they’d need one central product database