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

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

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

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

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