A List Primer for Product Side Management
February 19, 2007

Since last September, we’ve discussed printing, merchandise and catalog creative execution. Over the next few weeks, I’ll serve up some suggestions and insights regarding the list side of the catalog business.

Always remember, the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing states that list selection can impact 40 percent of your direct marketing efforts.

For starters, you’re probably paying WAY too much attention to your merchandise and creative efforts! That’s O.K., it’s only natural. You’re a merchant in a product driven company and you want your products and your brand image to represent the sum of your hard work. Besides, your products and image are the calling

Strategy: Maximizing Outside List Performance
February 1, 2007

Most catalogers can’t break even on the initial order when they mail to prospects. That’s often why start-up catalogs have difficulty surviving. Catalogers, new and old, depend on repeat purchases for profitability, i.e., turning one-time buyers into customers who purchase two or more times. This month, I’ll discuss ways to maximize outside list performance on the initial order to get closer to the incremental break-even point. You can maximize outside list performance by increasing response and/or your average order size (AOS). I prefer to focus on improving the response rate because it yields a greater number of new buyers, thus growing your 12-month

Postal: Three Ways to Reduce Postal Costs and Increase Response
September 12, 2006

With the holiday season around the corner, and a double-digit postal increase on the horizon, consider where you can gain incremental value out of your housefile. Mike Yapuncich, vice president, solution support for data services provider Experian, offers a few tips on how to do just that: 1. Mail to the correct address. “The most important thing that catalogers should be doing to get incremental value out of their housefiles is [to use] NCOALink,” Yapuncich says. This process updates your housefile based on new mover information registered with the USPS. Yapuncich notes that while some catalogers try to save money by using NCOALink quarterly, the

The Causes of List Fatigue
October 1, 2004

List fatigue is top of mind for many direct marketers these days. What is list fatigue, what causes it, and how can you combat it? Reductions in catalog prospecting circulation over the past several years, in conjunction with shrinking list and co-op database universes and an overall weak economy, have led to what commonly is being referred to as “list fatigue.” How, you may ask, can a list become fatigued? Jo Ann Alberts, vice president of list brokerage and management firm American List Counsel, Princeton, N.J., explains: “Because of extensive cutbacks in prospecting and only utilizing the top lists, mailers are exhausting

How to Evaluate a Service Bureau
January 1, 2004

Evaluating a service bureau is a tough task. Comparing one service bureau to another is even more challenging. Do you compare pricing, services or products? I say compare everything. Just as keeping a check on processing costs is important, postage discounts equally will affect your bottom line. Choose a stable company, as well as one that takes some risks to improve its product line — a service bureau must have the technology necessary to assist its clients. Following is a basic checklist of what to look for when choosing a service bureau. Check prices. Look not only at actual costs but also

What You Should Know About a Merge-Purge
April 1, 2003

Planning your circulation strategy is about more than just selecting which prospect names or housefile segments to mail. Merge/purge is critical to the success of your mailing, too. How you instruct your service bureau to run the merge can affect your mailing results. This month, I’ll discuss how to assign list priorities, treat multi-buyers and deal with family groups. Of course, the main reason for running a merge is to identify and eliminate duplicates from your mail file. A merge will identify two types of duplicates: duplicates between files (known as inter-file dupes) and duplicates within a file (or intra-file dupes). When duplicates

List Rentals: What’s Negotiable? What’s Not?
January 1, 2003

Anything is negotiable when it comes to list rentals, according to list professionals such as Karen Mayhew, vice president, consumer list management, at Direct Media. “Today, there’s not really anything that’s out of the question,” she explains. Mayhew’s colleague on the list brokerage side at Direct Media, Linda Huntoon, executive vice president, agrees. “If you can think of something that will help a mailer use a file and can explain it to the manager and [list] owner, you can probably test it.” Other list professionals also see an upswing in list negotiations. Dennis Bissig, group vice president/brokerage, Mokrynski & Associates, says: “There are a

How to Prospect More Effectively
December 1, 2002

You must prospect for new buyers to grow your business. But prospecting can be expensive. Most catalogers prospect at an incremental loss*. Even so, acquiring new buyers is important to the health of your business. This month, I’ll explore ways to prospect cost effectively for new buyers. Why It’s Important There’s a certain attrition rate associated with a typical catalog housefile. People die, others move, and some become dissatisfied. It’s important to add new buyers to your housefile to maintain a certain level of revenue and/or to grow your business. Rule of thumb: The percent increase in revenue growth will approximate

Outside List Optimization
March 1, 2002

As a cataloger, it’s important to focus on ways to increase response rates from the prospect lists you use. You want to increase the revenue per catalog mailed. Most likely, you adjust the common selects such as recency and dollars spent to improve results. This month, I’ll explore outside list optimization, another proven method to increase the effectiveness of your prospecting efforts. There are two ways to use list optimization: selection and suppression. Each technique usually uses 10 percent to 20 percent of a given file. Selection This method is used for pre-merge lists. With this technique, you can use a

B-to-B List Hygiene
December 1, 2001

I have worked at numerous business-to-business (b-to-b) catalogs during the years, and one problem I’ve consistently come across is getting catalogers to see the importance of list hygiene. It’s been an uphill battle to get management to spend the time and money on this important area. It never seems to make it to the top of their “to-do” lists. But that recently has changed with the anthrax scare and postage hikes. Many experts agree with The Direct Marketing Association and U.S. Postal Service that mail will gain greater credibility and a higher opening rate if names and addresses are clean and professional-looking.