Management

Catalog/Multichannel Industry Networking in the 21st Century Via the LinkedIn Network
November 6, 2007

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a number of hours on the business networking Web site, www.LinkedIn.com. I’ve mentioned the network in my last three articles, so I’m hoping many of you have signed up and tried it for yourselves. Thanks to all of you who did and who linked to me. It’s nice to meet you! If you haven’t, join and link to me at www.LinkedIn.com/in/jimwgilbert . The following is my report.

Immediately after joining and building my profile (more about that below), I chose the option to use my AOL and Outlook address books to begin building

Interact and Prosper
November 1, 2007

I often ask if you like what we’re doing and if there’s anything more we can offer in our print and online vehicles. Most of you say you get plenty out of Catalog Success, and you find it beneficial to cherry-pick from all the tactics and tips we offer. To that, I say, Neh! I think you’re wrong. I believe we can offer plenty more. But we need your help. More on that in a moment. This is the second November issue I’ve presided over, and it’s become one of my favorites. Along with the rest of the Catalog Success staff, I’ve scoured through all

Ask the Right Questions to Get Your Metrics Positioned
November 1, 2007

Whether your catalog company is at $10 million or $150 million in revenue, there are questions about the key metrics of cataloging and Web marketing you should ask yourself — and know where and how to find answers — if you expect to regularly generate above-average profits. Here are the key areas; some are in the form of questions that I use when helping direct marketers prepare their strategic plans, raise growth financing or sell part or all of their business. Merchandising Q1. Describe your merchandising and buying function. Is it a “one-man show?” Q2. Who attends trade shows, makes overseas sourcing trips, selects final products? Is

Tailoring Directly to Their Customers: A Chat With Sue & Robert Prenner
November 1, 2007

Catalog Success: What are your catalog’s customer demographics? Sue Prenner: Professional men over the age of 45, but we’re trying to get younger. Bob Prenner: We’re in sort of a niche market for people who like traditional clothing. Sue: We like to say that it’s classic style and so for a long time the only people who recognized classic style were people who would be in that age demographic. But now it’s becoming fashionable, so they’re people who have never seen classic style before who are interested in it. But our price point is high so its going to appeal to the same

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,

Get Cleaner and Greener ASAP, For Your Own Sake
October 5, 2007

For as long as I can remember, legislation that would either lead to a law similar to the “do-not-call” law or that would require mailers to get consumers’ approval before sending them catalogs has been like one of those disasters you only see in the movies or TV. It could never happen in real life, no way. There often have been flashes of “do-not-mail” bill proposals, but nothing has ever become of it. Such a law is one of the biggest reasons American catalogers don’t try to mail in countries like Italy and parts of China, both of which specifically require prior consent

Suppliers or Partners?
October 2, 2007

When visiting client companies I’m often astounded by the variation I find in how they view and treat their vendors.

Too many B-to-B catalogers take the attitude of “beating their vendors up” for another 2 percent discount or another free service in the coming year. Vendor interactions are dominated by discussions around “cost reduction” rather than “value enhancement.”

Understandably, I find in those companies vendor relationships are strained. Honest, straightforward communication between the vendor and the cataloger is limited. Not surprisingly in that environment, vendors are less than cooperative when the inevitable supply chain problems arise. Overall, an adversarial relationship exists, rather than a

A Chat with October’s Profile, Bill Boatman, Founder and Owner of Bill Boatman and Company
October 1, 2007

Catalog Success: How was the catalog established? Bill Boatman: Prior to printing my first catalog in 1955, I owned a small grocery store. While running the grocery store I was buying space ads in specialty hunting magazines advertising accessories for dog hunters. I decided to buy an inexpensive mail-order course to start learning the catalog business. I started by collecting and processing the names and addresses of the customers at the grocery store. When I’d collected about 3,000 names and addresses, I mailed my first catalog. I realized the need for a direct catalog for hunters. I felt that with direct response

A Chat with October’s Profile, Bill Boatman, Founder and Owner of Bill Boatman and Company
October 1, 2007

Catalog Success: How was the catalog established? Bill Boatman: Prior to printing my first catalog in 1955, I owned a small grocery store. While running the grocery store I was buying space ads in specialty hunting magazines advertising accessories for dog hunters. I decided to buy an inexpensive mail-order course to start learning the catalog business. I started by collecting and processing the names and addresses of the customers at the grocery store. When I’d collected about 3,000 names and addresses, I mailed my first catalog. I realized the need for a direct catalog for hunters. I felt that with direct response

50-year-plus Catalog Veteran Enjoys It Small and Simple
October 1, 2007

BACKGROUND: Bill Boatman’s rural upbringing lured him into hunting and an outdoor lifestyle. Prior to printing his first catalog in 1955, Boatman owned a small grocery store in the Ohio farming town of Highland. While running the store, Boatman bought space ads in hunting magazines plugging hunting dog accessories he also was peddling. That led him to start a catalog. Before putting the Bill Boatman & Co. catalog together, Boatman compiled his own informal mailing list, collecting and processing the names and addresses of his customers at the grocery store. When he’d collected 3,000 of them, which he deemed sufficient at the time, Boatman