How to Survive a Recession
December 16, 2008

Someone asked me last week, "What are the best ways to survive a recession?" Without thinking much, I responded, “Love the customers you got!" As I began to reflect on my knee-jerk answer, I realized just how important it is for B-to-B catalogers to do just that.

6 Tips to Increase Your Productivity in 2009
December 9, 2008

As many catalog/multichannel B-to-B and B-to-C marketers do their annual planning and budgeting for 2009 right about now, I suspect many are having a difficult time given the events of the past six months. Who really knows what 2009 will bring?

Now Is the Time to Review Outsourcing Opportunities
December 2, 2008

Given the tough economic times and sales levels that are most likely below plan, most B-to-B catalog managers are looking to reduce overhead costs without affecting revenue-driving activities. Much of the “low-hanging fruit” has been had when it comes to cost savings, and I submit that now is the time that many of you must face “significant structural change” as an option. Inevitably, your discussions will lead you to consider outsourcing noncore functions in your company.
The first question you might be asking is, “What’s a noncore function?” The answer varies for every company, but generally, I consider noncore functions to be anything that

B-to-B Cataloging: Hire or Outsource?
December 1, 2008

The most successful catalog/multichannel marketers follow a proven principle: They know what they do well, and they outsource what they don’t. To be a successful B-to-B multichannel merchant, you need to staff or outsource 10 core competencies, which are unique to multichannel merchants. These are merchandising/product development, branding, creative, marketing, database, Internet, call center, inventory, fulfillment and print management. Take a moment to identify which of these you staff internally and those that you outsource; then ask these questions: 1. Can you identify the person in charge of this competency? Someone needs to actively run each of these areas. If one of the

What’s the Failed Search Rate on Your Web Site?
November 11, 2008

I had an interesting debate with a client the other day about internal site search failure rates for B-to-B catalogers. He asked me what I thought the acceptable rate of internal site search was. He suggested that 15 percent, 20 percent or even 25 percent was “normal.”
B-to-B marketers know the ease with which customers can find the product(s) they want when shopping on your site is key. Unlike their B-to-C counterparts, B-to-B marketers often have more than 100,000 items listed on their sites. Large B-to-B catalogers can have more than 500,000, and I know of at least one who has more than 1

Copywriting Tips to Increase Sales
November 11, 2008

In a recent webinar from the Target Marketing Group (sister unit of Catalog Success), copywriting veteran Bob Bly offered his top secrets on how to use copy to increase sales for both B-to-C and B-to-B marketers alike. Here’s a recap of Bly’s presentation. “Next to the list,” Bly said, “the offer is the most important part of a promotion.” Offers consist of the following elements: * product — what product you’re offering, and what model or version of it; * price — what customers have to pay; * terms — the conditions under which they have to pay; * premiums — what bonus gifts

Upuzzling Matchbacks
November 1, 2008

The marketing manager was suspicious. The pay-per-click Web campaign results looked too good. A matchback revealed that 40 percent of the campaign’s customers, representing 60 percent of its sales, had actually received a catalog before placing their orders. Scary, isn’t it? That’s just one reason why order tracking still matters. Here’s another: The chart accompanying this article is a real — and typical — example of key code capture rates. This unnamed cataloger captured key codes for 46 percent of its orders that represented 62 percent of its sales. Untracked data represented 54 percent of its orders and 38 percent of its sales. The

Increase Productivity and Effectiveness Via New Technology
September 9, 2008

As an industry, we’ve had to weather difficult market conditions before. Whether you want to call it a recession or not, there’s no doubt that times are tough. B-to-B customers are “cautious.” Not dead, but cautious. During such times, B-to-B marketers need to recognize the mind-set of their customers and come up with relevant products, offers and pitches. They also need to keep a close eye on costs. Often, this leads to new, less expensive ways to operate.
Over the course of history, one trend I’ve seen time and time again is B-to-B marketers’ willingness to embrace new technology to increase marketing effectiveness and/or

Behind the B-to-B Online Video Explosion
September 2, 2008

In case you haven’t noticed, the use of amateur video to sell products online is exploding. YouTube has made amateur video perfectly acceptable, and B-to-B catalogers have realized the power of video to educate, inform, sell, demonstrate, serve and communicate.
All this is changing online business shoppers’ expectations. I dare predict that a year from now your Web site will be “old technology” if you don’t have videos that inform visitors of your products and/or services. It should also include videos from your customers showing how they use your products.
No, this won’t force you to build a big, expensive video production facility. Let

Plan Your Year-End Promotions Right Now
August 26, 2008

Many B-to-B marketers have product lines that lend themselves to end-of-year and beginning-of-year promotions. Those should be planned now! Of course, if you sell seasonal products, such as business holiday greeting cards or tax forms, your fourth quarter business is especially important. Most B-to-B marketers still see sales surges at year’s end due to final spending of companies’ yearly budgets.
Your call-center reps may need additional selling tools and promotions at this time of year to take advantage of customers’ seasonal spending propensities. The key driver is your customers’ need to spend all of their annual budgets so they can justify asking for larger