Human Resources: Goal-Setting Strategies for Your Employees
March 7, 2006

Almost half of the U.S.-based working adults who completed a recent online survey said they’re given no clearly defined goals on the job. “Too many companies are dropping the ball in regard to helping their employees set and work toward well-defined goals,” says Joanne Sujansky, CEO of KEYGroup, a consultancy that commissioned the online survey taken by more than 1,700 workers ranging in age from 18 to 64. “When employees don’t have crystal-clear goals to work toward, they’re going to waste time and resources. They’re going to be inefficient.” Following are some of Sujansky’s tips for setting goals for your employees: Share the big

Select Your Recruiter
February 28, 2006

When in search of top management talent for your multichannel business, you have several options for help, notes Les Gore, managing partner of Executive Search International, a Newton, Mass.-based executive recruiting agency specializing in direct marketing, in his white paper “Strategies for Finding Top-Notch, Experienced Talent.” Retained searches are generally best when you’re recruiting for high-level positions such as chief executive, president and vice president. Offering a more consultative search, the retained search firm probably will spend a day at your site, observing your operations, conversing with key personnel and getting a clear understanding of your company’s needs, notes Gore. The recruiter will develop

Two Questions for Strategic Planning
February 28, 2006

In preliminary conversations about long-range strategic planning with direct marketing CEOs, Don Libey, president of consultancy Libey Inc., asks the following two questions. What’s your exit strategy? “Until the objective of the end is known, we cannot create a strategy to get there,” writes Libey in the new book “Libey and Pickering on RFM and Beyond” (MeritDirect Press), which he co-authored with Christopher Pickering, partner at MeritDirect. “You operate businesses very differently depending on whether they will be sold to a competitor, sold to an investment group, given to the children, structured as an employee buy-out or liquidated for cash,” Libey writes. “For each end game,

Executive Focus: Managing Your Managers When Things Go Wrong
February 21, 2006

As the head of a catalog company, you likely oversee a number of supervisors who are responsible for another group of employees. While dealing with and managing various management styles isn’t always easy, human resource professionals Michael Simpson and Gina McClowry offer the following scenarios and resolutions in their white paper,”Practical Approaches for Managing Managers,” which recently was released by the Society for Human Resource Management. ¥ Dealing with a manager who doesn’t support your vision. When a manager doesn’t support the company’s vision or direction, it can lead to lowered morale among the entire staff, note the white paper’s authors. In most cases, deal

Operations: Increase Sales, Improve Efficiency With a Benchmarking Strategy
February 7, 2006

Benchmarking can be used throughout your organization to answer questions about the effectiveness of new initiatives. If you’re skeptical of how benchmarking can deliver results, consider these two questions and how benchmarking can provide answers. Once you’ve tried these tactics, you’ll find that benchmarking elsewhere within your company can provide consistent strategies for achieving growth and profitability. Will better service increase customer value? Choose 2,000 of your best customers and separate them with an AB split. Flag the A customers in your order management system as “platinum.” At every contact point these names should be identified as your best customers. Customer service reps (CSRs)

Executive Focus: Courageous Leadership Requires a Plan of ATTACK
January 10, 2006

Courage is perhaps the most critical leadership trait, but it’s something you’re more likely to associate with four-star generals than with managers. But courage can be developed and nurtured, and courageous leadership can become an automatic response. The path to courageous leadership can be summed up by the acronym ATTACK. Accept your circumstances. Most leaders either overestimate or underestimate their current culture’s health. As a leader, you need to look reality in the face and accept it. This doesn’t mean you should settle, but accepting that you have a less-than-ideal corporate culture is the first step toward changing it for the better. Ask yourself,”What

Strategy: Exit the Stage Right
January 1, 2006

Selling a catalog business can be an emotional decision. Owners often have an inflated view of what their businesses are worth. So arriving at a realistic price tag can be difficult. The old adage “For every seller there’s a buyer” certainly holds true. But finding the right buyer for your business — someone willing to pay your asking price — isn’t always easy. While we at Lett Direct aren’t investment bankers or business brokers, I’ll share with you what we’ve learned during the years from working with catalog business owners wanting to sell their companies. Timing is Everything Knowing when to sell

A Chat With Paal Gisholt, President/CEO, SmartPak Equine
January 1, 2006

© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, January 2006 Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? Paal Gisholt: The catalog was established in April of 2002. Prior to that, we were a dot-com company that started in June of 2000. CS: How do you describe your primary merchandise? PG: We have a core product offering, which is custom-packed equine nutritional supplements in daily-dose packs. We’ve used that as a platform from which we sell all different types of products that are useful to people who ride horses. Those are things like horse clothing, barn and stable equipment, rider gear, pharmaceuticals for horses, etc. And

Marketing Budget: Three Tactics to Help You Better Allocate Marketing Costs
December 20, 2005

These days, every C-level executive expects efficient use of corporate resources. Gary Hennerberg, direct marketing consultant and author of the new book “Direct Marketing Quantified: The Knowledge is in the Numbers” (published by Target Marketing magazine, a sister publication of Catalog Success), offers these three tips to help you expertly allocate your marketing spend: 1. “If you mail to both your customer file and rented lists, separate the costs by list, so list rental is not charged to customer costs,” writes Hennerberg. 2. Evaluate the performance of small test quantities based on projected rollout costs. Writes Hennerberg, “If you’re testing a quantity of 50,000 and expect

In Case Holidy ‘05 Isn’t Very Merry
November 1, 2005

Holiday sales are expected to grow by just 5 percent this year, down from the 6.7 percent growth recorded in 2004, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). And a recent survey of about 8,000 consumers conducted by BIGResearch found that 34.7 percent of respondents plan to spend less on gifts this holiday than they did in 2004. The study also found that 60.2 percent of respondents said they’re driving less. Indeed, high energy costs are one of the main factors behind the expected slowdown in holiday spending this year, according to NRF officials. In this age of high petroleum prices, consumers may be