Stephen Lett

Stephen Lett

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

Post-COVID Mailing Strategy … Be Careful Not to Overmail

The horrific pandemic caused people to stay home most of the year, which created a large spike in orders for many direct-to-consumer companies, both catalog and digital. The increase in demand was so significant that it caused issues for the supply chain. Many retailers scrambled to purchase inventory in order to meet the order demand…

Understanding What Direct Mail Is

What is direct mail? It's unsolicited advertising sent through the mail to existing customers and prospects. Examples include postcards, solo mailers, catalogs, self-mailers, etc. Unlike mass media, direct mail is targeted so that you're reaching your most desired audience. It’s a rifle vs. a shotgun approach to marketing effectively. In this post, I'll discuss the…

Post-COVID Prediction … The New Normal

We've rounded the corner and thank goodness we feel the country is on the backside of the COVID pandemic. What a ride it has been! It's far from over, but under control. For many consumer companies, COVID caused a surge in business with more people working and shopping from home. It has put pressure on…

Catalog KPIs … Keeping Your Eyes on the Ball

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are important to any print catalog or digital marketing business. Knowing how often and which KPI to track can make a huge difference to your profit and loss (P&L) statement. You need to separate the “nice to know” from the “need to know” information. Tracking nonessential KPIs might make you feel…

Catalog and Digital Marketing … The Future is Here Now

2020 is a year we will always remember, yet one we would like to forget. It was a year that changed our lives forever. Some have been affected more than others, but we all have a story to tell. People talk about “the new normal,” but what exactly does that mean to retailers and direct…

Competing With Amazon: It’s All About Trust is big. Powerful, too. The vision of Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is remarkable. It's astounding to consider Amazon’s ascension began just 26 years ago in 1994. While I don’t always agree with Amazon’s practices, I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Bezos as an entrepreneur, a visionary, and for the brand…

What Will Catalog Marketing Look Like in a Post-COVID-19 World?

The coronavirus has been a life-changing event. We've never experienced anything like this before. Baby Boomers were young when polio was nearly eradicated with the Salk vaccine in 1955. At that time, very little was known about polio, which paralyzed and often killed young children. Science has greatly advanced since then. Even so, until we…

Welcome to the Connecting Print & Digital Directly Blog

Our purpose for this blog is to share our direct marketing experience, particularly around direct mail, catalogs, paid search, and website optimization. Since Stephen Lett founded Lett Direct in 1995, retailers and e-tailers across the country have valued its transparency and educational approach to improve their profitability by planning, executing and analyzing their marketing programs.…

Who Killed the Catalog?

For years now, critics have been saying the print catalog is dying. Going away. A relic that's being replaced by the internet. It was almost like the word "catalog" was dirty. Something out of date or old fashioned, or so it seemed.

50 Best Tips for 2015

It's a new year and the Lett Direct team has put together "50 Best Tips for 2015" that will help you increase your profits. While not in any particular order, these suggestions are being made to help you improve your print catalog and digital marketing programs. Some of our suggestions might be obvious while other tips might stimulate your thinking. Regardless, we hope our tips and suggestions for 2015 will benefit your business.

Lessons Learned From a Lifetime in the Catalog Business

I began my catalog career over 40 years ago. I've learned several lessons over the years about the dos and don'ts of catalog marketing. I'd like to pass along some of what I've learned and the principles we follow today as we advise our customers. I've seen companies with the best of intentions make decisions opposite of what they should have done. Often these decisions have been an attempt to save money (or at least they thought). In many cases, adding rather than reducing is the better choice.

Page Count Does Make a Difference

There's a favorable relationship between the incremental costs of adding pages vs. the actual return. Pages generate a high return on investment. For example, increasing page count from 52 pages to 60 pages yields a 15.4 percent increase in the number of square inches of selling space. Yet, typically the cost is only 7.4 percent more for the eight extra pages (again, this is approximate depending on the quantity printed).

How Important is Average Order Size?

Catalog executives always seem to have a great deal of interest in their average order size. They become concerned when they see it decrease. What's more, catalogers often spend time trying to artificially increase the average order size without really understanding the implications of doing so. That's why I want to provide a good understanding of what's behind the average order size and other measurements that might be more important to your analysis.

The Real Driver of Catalog Circulation

Print catalog circulation is starting to increase for a number of reasons. First, mailing a catalog drives business to the internet. We know that up to 80 percent of all orders placed online were the result of mailing a catalog. Second, the lifetime value (LTV) of a catalog buyer is higher than other channels. For example, if a consumer goes to a search engine for a particular item, they might buy it at the right price, but it doesn't mean they'll buy again. However, if the order originates via a catalog, the consumer is more inclined to make repeat purchases.

Printing Money

Approximately 60 percent of consumer catalog sales and 55 percent of total orders generated annually are received during the holiday season (October through December), according to data we compiled at Lett Direct, Inc. This three-month period represents all or most of the profit for catalogers during the year. Therefore, it's critical to make certain your business is hitting on all cylinders during the busy holiday season.