What’s In Your Catalog’s Future?
December 1, 2000

For the past two decades, I have written and spoken worldwide on the future of the catalog industry. My position has always been to challenge conventional thinking, and I have been right on some things and wrong on others, but hopefully always provocative. My early thoughts on the future of the Internet (1994) and its influence on catalog and direct marketing have been, for the most part, accurate. I predicted the growing importance of e-mail marketing, permission-based databases, proprietary databases and the surety of dynamic pricing as an outgrowth of self-directed, online commerce. In 1997, I was correct in my assessment of

SkyMall: The Ultimate Catalog Business Model
November 1, 2000

Imagine this: You print 16 million catalogs a year that are seen by 500 million upscale prospects (average pass-along ratio is 20-to-1), often cooped up for hours with nothing else to read. Annually, 700,000 orders are placed, typically for 2.1 items at a $110 average order size. Oh, yes, a few more eat-your-heart-out ingredients of your catalog business: You warehouse no inventory, you ship nothing, take no returns and you don’t spend one penny for postage or list rental. Two words describe this model: yum-yum. If I were writing a novel about a high-powered entrepreneur, strategic thinker and brilliant builder of a multi-million dollar

Case Study: Multiple Zones International
October 1, 2000

There’s nothing like having a billionaire for a neighbor. Especially one that throws a little business your way, like Microsoft did when it named Multiple Zones International (MZI) its chief supplier of computer hardware, software and services. The contract is one of many changes taking place at MZI. Since moving online in 1995, MZI has seen fast growth in revenue and transactions, creating a $115-million company. What began in 1989 as a three-title catalog company with PC Zone, Mac Zone and The Learning Zone, has grown into a multi-channel retail operation that includes a new business-to-business division. The new Zones Business Solutions division is

Alternate Media Other Catalogers Use and Why
September 1, 2000

Producing and mailing a catalog can be a most expensive undertaking. With alternate media you can achieve some of the same goals as with a print catalog: Testing, driving customers (new or existing) to your e--commerce site and building awareness/loyalty. Speaking at the Annual Catalog Conference in June, Kevin Kotowski, of Olson Kotowski & Co. in Los Angeles, named some top reasons catalogers use alternate media, or “non-catalog pieces:” 1) cheaper prospecting than with full-sized catalog drops, since most alternate media are cheaper to produce and mail; 2) building and strengthening your customer relationships with name and product awareness; 3)

BlissOut Catalog’s Perfect Marketing Makeup
September 1, 2000

Goops and scrubs, loofahs and lipsticks. All presented in bright colorful layouts. Seductive copy (“it’s more than treats the eye”) makes you want to buy this stuff so you, too, can feel good. And then there’s BlissGirl. She may not be perfect, but this illustrated character sure has fun living the spa life and trying out all the latest products the beauty world has to offer. Founded just four years ago, BlissOut catalog has come a long way in such a short time, due in large part to the vision of Bliss spa founder, Marcia Kilgore, and the know-how and enthusiasm of the catalog’s

Day with a Pro: Michelle Farabaugh, VP of marketing, West Marine
September 1, 2000

As senior vice president of marketing and strategic planning for West Marine, Michelle Farabaugh is one fast moving target. Her day begins with a 40-minute a.m. commute, during which she returns a entire voice mailbox of calls. In charge of creating and executing sales and marketing strategies for the Watson, CA-based company’s online, catalog, retail and wholesale sales channels, she typically works a 12-hour day, not including her morning drive. Farabaugh’s mission is to create new programs that drive profits and increase customer loyalty. As a young senior vice president, she subscribes to the motto that to succeed, you need “wrinkles or results.” Having

Lifetime Value: Acquisition Costs Across Different Media
June 1, 2000

Two things are common to many database marketers. First, they can measure acquisition cost well (what it takes to turn a prospect into a customer), but they don’t employ a sound method of judging lifetime value (LTV). Second, they emphasize prospecting rather than retention/cross-selling/upselling. The combination of these two traits, measuring acquisition but not LTV and concentrating on prospecting rather than retention, often leads to profitability problems when testing new media. For a “traditional” cataloger, who sells only through direct mail and prospects only with rented lists, there can be a major difference in the long-term profitability of buyers from different sources. For

Case Study: Sundance Catalog
April 1, 2000

Nestled at the base of Utah’s Mount Timpanogos, among the giant pine trees lies a small 6,000-acre village. Established in 1969 by Robert Redford, the area has become an educational resource for artists and a place of recreation that fosters social and environmental responsibility. The resort area was purchased by Redford with his earnings from the 1967 film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” from which the village gets its name. In the past 30 years, Sundance has become more than a tiny village of beauty. It is now home to a host of non-profit organizations founded by Redford, including The Sundance Film Festival,

10 Ways to Put More Zing in Your Prospecting With Alternative Media
October 1, 1999

One of cataloging’s hottest buzz phrases this past year has been alternative media. List brokers hate the trend, but most savvy catalogers are not only embracing alternative media, they are having enough success with it to build on. Historically catalogers have relied on list rentals to build their customer files. And it worked. Lists proved to be productive and had excellent persistency or lifetime value over time. So why complain or switch from something that’s working? The answer is an economic one. The winning lists of yesteryear are just not responding as well as they did in the past. When I started in

The Puzzling, Frustrating 1 Percent Response Rate
May 1, 1999

For this inaugural article, no rule of thumb could be better to start with than the oldest, strangest, most puzzling and often the most frustrating rule of them all: the 1 percent response rate. Definition: 1 Percent Response Rule Most catalogers have at least heard of this rule, but I’ve never seen a really careful definition of it. So here’s my precise definition of the 1 percent response rule: The 1 Percent Response Rule: If you mail an average-size catalog, with merchandise of average desirability, at average-value price points, to an average selection of response lists, then your average response rate (number of orders