Making a Plan: How to Develop Three-year Projections
December 1, 2007

It’s only a matter of time before your CFO figures out that you have more influence over his financial plan than he does. But when that moment arrives, your CFO will ask you for a plan that projects sales for the next three years or so. Smart catalog companies handle financial planning as a partnership between the marketing and financial staffs. Mailing is your key revenue-generating activity. Mail quantity, frequency, response rate and average order value (AOV) are the essential numbers for projecting sales. Consider each factor: ◆ Your mail quantity determines marketing expense; ◆ Your sales level helps project the company’s cost of goods; and ◆ Your

Some Not-So-Obvious Ways to Get Through the Tough Holiday Season Ahead
November 16, 2007

Reading retail sales, housing sales and consumer confidence reports the past couple of weeks while watching the stock market sink, I’ve become quite worried about the outlook for the holiday season for catalog/multichannel marketers. Retailers collectively reported their worst October in 12 years, and a Conference Board report last week said consumer confidence dropped in early November to its lowest level since Hurricane Katrina triggered soaring oil prices two years ago. Meanwhile, recent reports from the National Association of Realtors showed sales of existing homes had plunged to their lowest level in nearly a decade. None of this bodes well for catalogers. So

The 50 Best Tips
November 1, 2007

Say what you will about this wonderful trade we call the catalog/multichannel business, but whichever way you spin it, you can’t go very far if you’re unprofitable. That’s why above all else — the marketing, the merchandising, the creative, the e-commerce, etc. — we’re most interested in helping our readers make more money. So we bring you our annual binge of tactics and tips extracted from all of this year’s issues of Catalog Success, our weekly e-newsletter Idea Factory and our biweekly idea exchange e-newsletter, The Corner View. Our editorial staff went through every article we’ve produced this year to give you a nice,

Are Your Mailings Irrelevant or Just Plain Stale?
October 30, 2007

Lately I’ve noticed I’ve been getting repeat mailings from large B-to-B office suppliers — and they all look the same. It probably doesn’t help that Office Depot, Staples and OfficeMax have similar corporate colors. They all seem stuck in their “10 percent or $10 off” offer, or some version of it. To make matters even more boring, the mailings always seem to be in one of two or three standard formats. You know the ones: large postcards, #10 solo or folded flyer.
You look at them and say, “Oh, that again,” and toss it. It got me thinking about the opportunity we

Which Portion of Your E-commerce Marketing Efforts Should You Outsource?
October 23, 2007

I see a dilemma growing in our industry. It involves balancing which e-commerce functions should be kept in-house vs. those that should be outsourced.
Before we answer that question, a little historical perspective is in order. First, take note that five years ago, most of us thought e-commerce was a lot less complicated than it’s turned out to be. Right? That said, the next five years will bring increasing levels of complexity in e-commerce.
I also want to point out that most B-to-B companies I know have gone through several e-commerce employees/teams and/or organizational structures. As the function has evolved, we’ve struggled to

Fold it Up?
October 1, 2007

If you’re like most catalogers, you’ve either discussed giving up the use of a bind-in order form with envelope or you have already eliminated it. There’s a definite trend to eliminate the bind-in order form/envelope typically found in the center of catalogs. Is that really the right thing to do? This month, I’ll offer the pros and cons of using a bind-in order form/envelope, provide you with actual test results and give you the criteria to use to make the right decision for all the right reasons. Facts Don’t Lie I first explored this topic in a Catalog Success column back in

Strike Up B-to-B Activity in the Consumer World
October 1, 2007

Patient: Doctor, although I have a consumer catalog, I’ve found some business customers on my list. I’m unsure of whether or not to try to find more business customers. Is B-to-B a good growth tonic for me, or a snake-oil serum? Catalog Doctor: B-to-B can be a good segment for some consumer catalogers to try to grow, especially if you sell business-appropriate gifts or productivity products. Plus, average order values can be double that of consumers, which can help cure slow growth and profitability. To grow that B-to-B segment, however, you need different treatments than you’re used to. Here’s a nine-step prescription. 1. Hang a welcome