Mail to the Government
November 1, 2002

Selling to the U.S. government, which includes federal, state and local governments, can be a sweet deal for a cataloger. There are more than 70,000 government jurisdictions in the United States, and they buy $2.5 trillion for goods and services each year! The funds usually are spent through specific contracts, or they constitute discretionary purchases. The latter is spent on small purchases (called micropurchases) through purchasing, field and regional offices. It’s spent by government credit card users (Federal government and some state governments), and others who must acquire goods quickly. The use of SmartPay, the federal small-purchase credit card (formerly known as

ABCs of Acquisition Analysis
October 1, 2002

Until two years ago, George Michie made his career teaching high school students the basics of economics, math, physics and government. Of his move into the catalog field, Michie says, “I was ready to do something different.” Working the analytical side of marketing seemed a logical fit for his background in numbers. At Crutchfield, Michie was hired to help the company re-think the metrics for its customer-acquisition efforts. “We had been relying on numbers with foundations more historical than analytical,” Michie recalls. His assignment: To figure out if these really were the numbers the company should be following? He says the ultimate

PR: Free Advertising ... If Done Right
October 1, 2002

An often-forgotten part of the marketing and circulation plan for a catalog company, especially a small- to medium-sized catalog, is public relations (PR). Although the PR, or communications, department is an important part of many corporate structures, it rarely has any formal structure within smaller-sized catalog companies. But PR can be a very effective tool, if used in conjunction with the other components of a comprehensive marketing plan. Capitalizing on PR opportunities takes dedicated effort either by someone in-house, or through an outside PR firm. Although the media exposure itself might be free, you’re going to have to spend some

Sure Fit: Sitting Pretty
September 1, 2002

Liana Toscanini, vice president of insurgence (yes, insurgence) for Sure Fit Slipcovers by Mail, challenged authority seven years ago when she started a catalog and Web site for the 87-year-old slipcover manufacturer. Retail and wholesale distribution has been Allentown, PA-based Sure Fit’s focus. It has sold its product, ready-made slipcovers, to retailers like Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target, as well as to cataloger LinenSource. With an 85-percent share of the ready-made slipcover market, Toscanini told company president Bert Shlensky she believed direct marketing to consumers was an avenue for growth. Shlensky, a promoter of innovation and creativity among his employees, told

Channel Integration: Make it Seamless
September 1, 2002

Channel integration is a hot topic these days—and for good reason. Effective marketers successfully are leveraging their retail, catalog and Internet efforts against one another. They’re learning that their best customers are those who interact with them in multiple channels. Examples of multichannel integration include e-mailing to customers coupons that can be redeemed in your retail store, notifying customers via e-mail of an upcoming sale catalog going out to them, and enticing print catalog shoppers to visit and order from your Web site. This list is limited only by your imagination. (I do, however, hope to see an end to Web-only,

Reduce Your Direct Selling Expenses
September 1, 2002

In this time of uncertainty, controlling your direct selling expenses is critical to your bottom line. Fortunately, paper prices have remained low, which helps offset the recent postage increase. But the business climate is difficult, and the squeeze on the bottom line is real. This month, I’ll offer various ways to reduce your direct selling expenses. Specifically, the following line-item expenses should be considered direct selling expenses: - catalog creative and production; - paper; - print manufacturing; - outside rented lists; - merge/purge; - bind-in order form insert; and - ink-jet and mailing. These direct selling expenses always should be grouped together

How to Create and Use an Attrition Model
July 1, 2002

A continuous threat to the health of any company is the loss of customers. That makes prospecting efforts all the more important, because newly acquired customers are worth more in the future. Profits rise because repeat sales rise, and most profits come from repeat sales. Your catalog’s attrition can be mapped using many variables. Recency, or how long ago customers made purchases, is the most common. Total spending, average amount spent, method and type of purchase are common variables used to estimate attrition by customer segments. Demographics and psychographics also may be helpful predictors. A common strategy for marketers is to re-contact all

Channel Crossing: Guiding Customers to Web Sites
May 1, 2002

When direct marketing companies first invested in the World Wide Web, creative strategies and marketing budgets for online and off-line operations were segregated. Some executives believed the new medium required different marketing strategies and personnel, while others wanted to keep staffers and budgets detached, facilitating a lucrative Web spin-off. Today both of these rationales have been debunked. The rules of direct marketing hold fast regardless of channel. But the fallout from these early missteps continues: Catalogers sometimes measure the success of their campaigns in silos, neglecting the influence of campaigns across sales channels. “When people try to track traffic to the

Challenges of Multichannel Fulfillment
April 1, 2002

Richard Eaton, vice president, fulfillment services of Highlights for Children, and Tom Kirkham, senior consultant for ESYNC International, spoke to Catalog Success a few weeks before Highlights planned to go live with a new warehouse management system (WMS). Like many catalogers, Highlights for Children’s product-fulfillment operation contends with several distribution channels and myriad product types. Highlights’ in-house distribution center handles fulfillment for three divisions: - Highlights Catalog, a traditional children’s products catalog; - Highlights Jigsaw, an educational toy and book supplier offering products through home parties similar to the Tupperware model; and - a third division that sells business-to-business (b-to-b)

Find New Customers, Without Breaking the Bank
January 1, 2002

It is imperative to determine the lifetime value of customers by source. Robert Hackett, RRD Direct’s vice president of sales, provides the following formula: Lifetime value is a function of frequency of purchase, multiplied by the gross margin, multiplied by the duration of brand loyalty. What can you afford to pay for a new customer? To make that determination, Gary Hennerberg of the Hennerberg Group suggests you take the following steps: • Research customer lifetime value. • Calculate every imaginable fixed and variable cost associated with selling your products, including cost of goods sold, inbound 800 number costs, business reply mail, postage,