Mergers & Acquisitions

Cost Effective?
February 26, 2008

In the first installment of this three-part series on how catalogers’ pricing strategies are evolving in response to the Web’s effect on branded products, let’s examine how catalogers have been put in this precarious situation and what they need to do to remain profitable. As the price-comparison engines turn more branded products into commodities, what’s your catalog’s best pricing strategy? Most catalogers’ current pricing strategy is to have the lowest market price available — either matching or beating any competitor’s best price. This policy is typically supported with a lowest price guarantee. It’s becoming common for most catalogers and Web merchants to offer

Have $100K to Spend on New Customer Acquisition? Where Are You Spending It?
February 12, 2008

I like this question. I also like the related question, “If you had to reduce your marketing spend by $100K, where would you cut?”
To answer either of these questions it’s necessary to have a good understanding of the incremental return on investment (ROI) on each of your marketing activities. I’m always surprised how often that starts with “I think … ” It makes me worry and, as a consultant, probe deeper to see what’s really known vs. what’s just “felt.”
The sad reality is that most B-to-B direct marketers today aren’t working from hard facts in this area. They’re operating from

Five Ways to Bring Your Catalog/Multichannel Business in Tune With 2008
January 18, 2008

There’s that old Bob Dylan song about times a-changin’ that I won’t bother to quote further. But it seems to hold true moreso year after year, and 2008 is no exception. So while some of us continue to exchange “happy new year” greetings with one another, I’ll send along one last new year’s greeting with what I believe to be the top five actions you should act on, examine or just ponder to bring your catalog/multichannel business in sync with the times. 1. Get your matchback system working smoothly at once. Assign someone in either your marketing or operations departments to do nothing

Nexus: A Four-Point Refresher
January 1, 2008

Tax-savvy multichannel marketers know “nexus” isn’t a new hair product or a high-priced automobile. The term “nexus” (derived from a Latin word meaning “to connect”) refers to the amount of contact an out-of-state retailer must have with a state before that seller is legally obligated to collect sales tax from customers. The Supreme Court’s landmark Quill v. North Dakota decision in 1992 made clear that, under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the nexus standard requires an in-state physical presence on the part of the retailer. In other words, mail order sales alone will not subject a remote seller to sales or use-tax collection

Editor’s Take: Tracking the Most Telling Multichannel Trends
January 1, 2008

In the IndustryEye section of this issue on pgs. 12-13, you’ll find our second quarterly Catalog Success Latest Trends Report, a benchmarking survey we conducted in late November in partnership with the multichannel ad agency Ovation Marketing. This one focuses on key catalog/multichannel issues, and we’ve included most of the charts there, so I encourage you to take a look. You’ll be able to find some charts only on our Web site due to magazine space limitations. We also didn’t have the space to include the numerous comments that you — our readers and survey respondents — wrote in response to two of the questions.

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

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,

So You Wanna Break into the Catalog Business ...
July 31, 2007

Last week, I got an e-mail from a former student of mine telling me he was starting a company with mail order as one of its distribution channels. He had a neat idea, and I thought the items he was about to sell had merit. Clearly he had his product line thought out well.

It pleases me to no end when this happens: a budding entrepreneur, about to stake his claim in the business world. Then I get the question that I dread: “How do I buy a list so I can grow the business?” How do I buy a list? Oh man, haven’t I

Learn How to Improve Now from a Great Futurist (No, Not Me)
July 13, 2007

As has been its annual custom, B-to-B list firm MeritDirect’s annual co-op event in White Plains, N.Y. on July 12 was kicked off by a provocative and entertaining presentation by catalog veteran and futurist Don Libey. Having heard Don speak plenty of times in the past (and despite his frequent speaking appearances, rarely does he repeat a single concept, strategy or idea), I’ve long since learned how to filter through his motivational pep talk and the meat of what he delivers. While always entertaining, his shtick is always chockfull of meat, but it often looks beyond tomorrow. And after all, we all want to

Industry Eye: Catalogers’ Updates & Financial Briefs
July 1, 2007

Catalogers’ Updates CDW Corp.: The multichannel computer marketer in May was sold to private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners for $7.3 billion. Upon completion of the deal, CDW shareholders will receive $87.75 in cash for each share of common stock. McFeely’s Square Drive Screws: W.W. Grainger’s Lab Safety Supply subsidiary in early June said it had acquired all of the assets of McFeely’s Square Drive Screws, a B-to-B cataloger of specialty fasteners, hardware and tools for the professional woodworking industry. McFeely’s will be marketed as an independent brand by Lab Safety. Casual Male: LivingXL is the name of a new catalog launched in May by Casual