How to Determine Appropriate Page Counts
October 1, 2002

Good circulation planning and merchandising are the keys to success for a catalog company. Knowing how many books to circulate can be determined by calculating a catalog break-even point. But determining the number of pages your catalogs should include can be more difficult and somewhat more arbitrary. This month, I’ll look at basic criteria that can help determine the best page counts for your catalogs. I’ll also review the economics of adding pages to a book. Pages increase response, and the economics generally are favorable, provided there’s enough good merchandise available to support additional square inches of selling space. The decision to

The Team Approach
September 1, 2002

Despite a rocky 2002 economy, catalogers are forging ahead, turning their attention to new manufacturing practices to support—and, in some cases, supplement—their sales efforts. Order forms aren’t the only things you’ll find nestled in your favorite catalog these days. Increasingly, catalogers are partnering with third-party mailers to insert advertising into catalog pages. And the ads are taking myriad forms, most commonly as blow-in and bind-in inserts. (Blow-ins are loose ad inserts, while bind-ins are inserts that are bound into the book.) For catalogers, these initiatives often mean extra revenues. And for advertisers, they’re a way of targeting a specific demographic, while the cataloger picks

Hello Direct: Focus on Creative & Print Production
September 1, 2002

Mention the name Hello Direct, and undoubtedly almost everyone will say the same thing: “Oh yes, the headset company.” Like Harley-Davidson and motorcycles, Hello Direct usually is top of mind when it comes to telephone headsets. How the company nurtures and maintains “ownership” of that product is instructive for other catalogers looking to dominate their own categories. Hello Direct executives use a combination of strategies, not the least of which are exceptional creative and print production capabilities that help the company stay connected with its customers. Then and Now Founded in 1987, the company’s original mission was to eliminate distributors from

Paper: What Top Catalogers are Using and Why
August 1, 2002

Postage, printing, presentation: There’s a lot to consider when choosing a paper type for your catalog. Catalog Success asked some leading catalogers how they decide which type of paper to use, and how they think it impacts their sales. Michele Rick, director of customer acquisition, Crutchfield catalog Product: Consumer electronics Circulation: About 35 million catalogs mailed per year Catalog Success: What type of paper are you using now? Rick: We have two types of books. Our big book has a 144-page body with a four-page cover that prints on gravure. That uses a totally different paper than the supplements, which have a 48-page body

Costly Production Errors Reduced
August 1, 2002

The Hacker Group/FCB, a direct marketing agency in Bellevue, WA, produces hundreds of millions of direct mail pieces each year. In the past four years it has consistently reduced its production costs resulting from error. How did they do this? Gayl Curtiss, executive vice president and general manager, shares some of her strategies. Many of her tips directly translate to catalog production. • Award employees bonuses that are directly tied to error-free performance. When compensation is tied to performance, employees are encouraged to pay extra attention to their work to eliminate mistakes. Employees should have clearly defined written roles and responsibilities, so they know

Location Shooting
August 1, 2002

After the plane landed with the photo crew, stylists, art director and models aboard, I was the first one off. I spotted the client waiting at security, all smiles. “Did you get all the permits?” I asked. The client’s smile faded. “Can we shoot downtown?” “Not quite yet,” the client said. “The national park location?” I asked. “Not exactly.” “The heliport?” “Well ...” When shooting on location, assume you’ll need a permit for everything, and each permit will take longer to get than you hoped. As a commercial venture, you have none of the freedom ordinary tourists have to take photos (especially

Ensure Color Quality in Your Catalogs
July 1, 2002

Ensuring quality color reproduction in your catalog is not a black-and-white issue. To get the accurate, rich color you desire, procure the right combination of technology, equipment and skilled human labor. And not just on press: The color process starts the minute your photographer sets up and lights the shot. “Color is a dynamic issue. Every device from electronic to ink on paper, has a full range of color possibilities it can produce,” says digital photographer Glenn Martin, of Digital Outback in Reno, NV. Today, digital technology has added a new set of challenges and opportunities to the color-quality issue. When it comes

Special Report: The Three Ps - Beyond the Status Quo
June 1, 2002

Eddie Bauer opened its first retail store, Eddie Bauer’s Sport Shop, in Seattle in 1920. Just two years after the founding, the company established its creed: “To give you outstanding quality, value, service and a guarantee that we may be worthy of your high esteem.” To this day, the promise manifests throughout the organization, including production and manufacturing. The Eddie Bauer conglomeration consists of,,, a network of almost 600 retail stores (based in the United States, Canada, Germany and Japan) and a highly successful catalog division. During the course of the company’s more than 80-year history, it has celebrated

Special Report: The Three Ps - The Country House Pairs Traditional Products with New-age Production
June 1, 2002

Flip through a catalog from The Country House, and you’ll get a sense of the great care that goes into creating its pages. The Salisbury, MD-based company produces 10 issues a year; in 2001, that represented a print run of more than 7 million books. The 7.5˝ x 10.5˝ catalog is chock full of colorful product images—everything from furnishings to collectibles. Any cataloger will tell you that high-quality photography that’s expertly rendered to ensure exact color and texture can translate into customer satisfaction and sales. This catalog is no exception. “The Country House has taken great leaps into digital reproduction to make sure images

Special Report: The Three Ps - Five Production Professionals Share Their Views of Today’s and Tomorrow Best Technologies
June 1, 2002

If you want to put your finger on the pulse of the technologies that are driving the catalog industry, it’s best to go directly to the source. Catalog Success asked five catalog production professionals to share their thoughts on some of the latest and greatest tools that have transformed the way catalogs are created, produced and printed. In addition, we asked for their predictions on what will be the hottest tools of tomorrow. Catalog Success: What has been the most interesting or provocative technology embraced by the catalog industry in the past few years? Francis J. Crowley, executive vice president, Spencer Press, a