By the Stats: Name Your Priorities
May 31, 2005

When asked to name their upcoming priorities, catalogers who responded to a recent survey done by Transcontinental Printing had this to say (respondents could select more than one answer): 78 percent want to grow sales from print catalogs 73 percent: grow Web site sales 72 percent: improve their multichannel offerings 61 percent: grow other forms of revenue Source: Transcontinental Printing Catalog Group,

How to Offset Postage and Paper Increases
April 1, 2005

Rex Ciavola, senior vice president of marketing operations at Office Depot and Viking Office Products, doesn’t let minor setbacks like postage and paper hikes dampen his spirit. Rather, he sets out to find other ways to attain the Utopian, “better, faster, cheaper” way to print. Ciavola oversees the A-to-Zs of both of the organizations’ marketing initiatives, including all retail advertising, direct mail, inserts and catalogs. He leads a collaborative, global marketing and production organization that includes the Office Depot team in Delray Beach, Fla.; the Viking team in Torrance, Calif.; and teams based in Europe and Japan. The combined organizations have internal staffs that

Special Report: Printing, Production and Paper
April 1, 2005

Achieve a Better Production Workflow Hint: Expect more from your printer Consider the relationship you have with your catalog printer. Besides the quality of what it prints for you, how would you classify its workflow processes? Is it easy for you to submit jobs? Are you confident you’re saving as much as you can on prepress costs? Do you think you’re getting the best possible level of customer service? In tough environments such as this one — when paper and postage costs are on the rise, for instance — you must not be conservative in the expectations you set for

April 1, 2005

Successful outsourcing arrangements require a smooth, risk-free transition, because even the best intentions can be erased by a rocky start that threatens your business. Carefully researched and implemented outsourcing ventures for your distribution center, contact center or other operational function can be profitable for those who efficiently leverage a service provider’s capabilities. How do you ensure that your chosen provider doesn’t damage your business through a clumsy implementation? Conduct an effective selection process, and plan a controlled, realistic transition. Here are 23 strategies to employ. Do the Research 1. Nothing is more important than carefully checking a service provider’s references, talking to both

April 1, 2005

The concept of approving a catalog proof that was anything but ink-on-paper seemed absurd back in the early 1990s. Sure, we’d all been soft proofing for years, eyeing up the way pages looked on our art director’s desktop display. But we looked at those images differently then. We saw them for what they were — a poor RGB imitation of what a CMYK-printed catalog would look like as the paper rolled off the press. Some things never change. “Soft proofing is a double-edged sword,” says Sarah Fletcher, creative director for Charlestown, R.I.-based Catalog Design Studios. “On the one hand, it is, by

A Grand Collaboration
April 1, 2005

For the good of your customers and company, staff members in merchandising, marketing and creative must learn to work synergistically. In my years working with direct marketing clients, I’ve worn all three of these hats. I’ve also directed collaborative efforts from a strategic management position. So I know these three catalog tasks can be done in a collaborative manner — and I know the outcome often is customer delight. Here’s how you, as a catalog senior manager, can encourage such efforts. 1. First, get everyone in the same room. Doors, walls, cubicles and continual e-mails can unintentionally create silos among your employees. Face-to-face

Paper: New Paper Products Led by Evironmentally Friendly and Lightweight Alternatives
March 1, 2005

Despite the advent of e-commerce and the digital age, you’re guaranteed to interact with paper countless times every single day. And until something better comes along, it’s safe to say that paper will be a big part of the catalog industry for the forseeable future. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of some paper products that have been released in the past several months. From environmentally sound options to a few that could save you money on postage, the editors at Idea Factory present a list of papers that hopefully will get you thinking about the ever-present material on which you print your catalogs. ¥

Eight Money-saving Ideas for 2005
January 1, 2005

Since the beginning of the calendar year often is the start of a budget year, I’ll discuss some ways to save your company money and improve your bottom line in 2005. Hopefully you’re finishing a great holiday season, and instead of needing these savings to make ends meet, you can use them to increase circulation or catalog page count for next holiday season. In addition, these ideas may help you offset the impending postage increase. (For more, see this month’s column by my colleague, Stephen Lett, page 39.) Here, I’ve listed the ideas in order of potential magnitude, with the last ones

Nine Catalog Management Mistakes to Avoid
December 1, 2004

We’ve all done dumb things that I’m sure seemed smart at the time we were doing them. I look back to my 33-year career as a cataloger and can think of things I did that were really silly. It’s all part of the learning experience. This month, I’m taking a slightly different approach from my normal columns. At the suggestion of my friend and client Shep Moyle, president and CEO of Stumps catalogs, I’ve devised a list of nine catalog management mistakes to avoid. 1. Don’t hire experts, even when needed. Or hire/fire the wrong person. I’ve seen this happen:

November 1, 2004

We’ve all done dumb things that I’m sure seemed smart at the time we were doing them. I look back to my 33-year career as a cataloger and can think of things I did that were really silly. It’s all part of the learning experience. This month, I’m taking a slightly different approach from my […]