Control Direct Selling Expenses
November 1, 2005

Your direct selling expense ratio is as important to track as your cost-of-goods ratio and other key metrics on your income statement. Indeed, controlling your direct selling expense ratio plays a major role in helping to improve your catalog company’s profitability. This month, I’ll focus on ways you can reduce your direct selling expense ratio. But first, let’s look at what normally comprises direct selling expenses: - catalog creative costs; - printing and paper; - ink-jet addressing and mailing expenses; - bind-in order forms and envelopes; - postage; - outside list expenses; and - merge/purge costs. Direct selling expenses

So You Want to Start a Catalog
October 1, 2005

“Give me a place to stand and rest my lever on, and I can move the earth.” —Archimedes No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “starry-eyed,” but have you ever seen it? I did, in a young married couple I’ll call Mary and Joe. They dreamed of owning a catalog, and when they came to see me about a launch, their eyes sparkled in anticipation. ”We’ve done lots of research. We’ve built a business plan and sales projections. And we’ve saved enough for the initial investment.” A good start, I thought. These folks have a realistic plan. They’ve got a chance for the stars

Develop Strategic Partnerships
October 1, 2005

What you’ll learn from this article: - how to find companies to ally with; and - types of programs you can develop together. Want to reduce your catalog costs while increasing your new customer acquisitions? One way to do it: Develop strategic marketing through reciprocal partnerships and exchange relationships. Creating reciprocal alliances takes a bit of initiative and a willingness to explore communications directly with noncompetitive mail-order companies. First, I’ll explore how to find companies to ally with, and then I’ll outline some programs you can develop together. Identify Other Mailers in Your Niche Many mail-order companies don’t have their customer lists on the

A Call Center Rep Gave My Credit Card Number to a Third Party
October 1, 2005

Are your contact center reps treating your customers in a way that best represents your brand? Are they staying within the confines of applicable laws when making upsell and cross-sell offers, especially those for third parties? Are you sure? Here’s why I ask: I ordered a home product from a catalog in July. I had previously ordered from this company with no problems. After taking my order, the contact center rep launched into a rambling, barely decipherable cross-sell offer of joining some third-party shopping club in which I could get discounts on other products not related to the catalog. I

Teambuilding: Some Assembly Required
September 20, 2005

Have you ever had a team that just didn’t gel? Team members spent more time fighting and finger-pointing than getting the job done, right? Many managers spend precious time refereeing team members when they should be focusing on more productive and profitable endeavors. Why do some team members simply not get along? One reason could be that managers seek a certain type of team member(s) who are just like themselves, when instead they should aim for a mix of types. For example, a toolbox with only one type of screwdriver would be of limited use around the house. Rather, you’d need different types of

Data Analysis: Improve Earnings and Profits With Effective Data Analysis
September 13, 2005

Effective analysis of your customer data can improve earnings, profits and satisfaction, but the process must be unique to your organization. Measuring for success begins with the knowledge that quality data analysis provides a map from the past to the future. Consider the following tips: ¥ Identify your best customers by profitability and contribution. Some customers are excellent revenue generators while others are beneficial for inventory liquidation. Both are valuable to your organization as long as the marketing costs do not exceed the benefits. ¥ Profile individual buying patterns so your marketing department can target customers when they are most likely to buy. This

Executive Focus: Help Your Business Weather a Disaster
September 6, 2005

With the hurricane season getting an early and intense start, I can’t help but be reminded about the devastation from last year’s storms. Even if you don’t live in a hurricane zone, read the disaster preparedness tips below, because disasters in all forms (e.g., earthquakes, terrorist attacks) can strike at a moment’s notice. Moreover, natural disasters in other parts of the country can greatly affect your business. Devise some measures in your company to assure the continuity of your business in times of emergency. Most importantly, always have a plan B. Last year one of my clients was out of business for an entire week

A Chat With David Isham, president/CEO, National Roper’s Supply
September 1, 2005

© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, September 2005 Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? David Isham: We mailed our first catalog in the fall of 1994. CS: Where are your headquarters? Isham: Decatur, Texas, a small town about 30 miles from the Dallas/Ft.Worth metroplex. CS: How do you describe your primary merchandise? Isham: Saddles, tack and western wear for the serious equine enthusiast. CS: What are your primary customer demographics? Isham: Active horse people around the country. Our catalog is the official catalog of the U.S. Team Roping Association and the U.S. Calf Roping Association. Our catalog was designed originally to be

Harness the Power of Strength-Based Strategic Planning
August 1, 2005

Employees have more confidence to envision the future when they carry forward the best practices of the past. Here’s how you can help them do that. Strategic planning enables you as a leader in your catalog company to identify long-term goals and mobilize your group’s resources to achieve sustainable results. Strategic planning also can be a powerful tool to identify and communicate your company’s core operating values and aspirations. However, all too often, strategic planning can be a frustrating exercise that offers little long-term impact or meaning for the average employee. How can you ensure that your planning efforts are effective, energizing

Catalogers of the Year
July 1, 2005

On the following pages you’ll meet the winners of the fourth annual Catalogers of the Year awards. We’re honored to recognize the contributions these three professionals have made to the catalog and e-commerce industries. This year’s winners exemplify the astounding level of quality in branding, customer service and merchandising this industry enjoys. The winners include: 1. a former museum director who now sells museum shop-quality educational toys to a national audience via her catalog; 2. a transplanted Briton who has built a thriving company selling telephony equipment; and 3. an industry veteran whose reputation as a maverick in branding, direct marketing and channel-integration