12 Creative Tips to Pump Up Catalog Sales and Cut Costs
January 2, 2008

1. Place more emphasis on your exclusive merchandise. 2. Exploit the “collectible” mentality that may be inherent in your product. 3. Emphasize guarantees, security policies and anything that makes your customers feel safer shopping with you. 4. Promote special offers, freebies and premiums that make your customers feel special. 5. Mail an exclusive, smaller-sized catalog to special customers introducing them to a new or special niche product. 6. Include Web sales drivers to encourage browsers to look at your entire assortment. 7. Incorporate a slim-jim format for sale or clearance items rather than changing the size of your main catalog. This can serve

Cut Costs and Keep Creative
January 1, 2008

The clock already may have struck midnight on postal reform, but that doesn’t mean your catalog has to turn back into a pumpkin. There’s no need to strip it down in ways that sabotage branding, creativity and, most importantly, sales. Even within the design and financial confines of today’s postal rates and structure, the dream of an effective, financially viable catalog doesn’t have to be a fairy tale. Through postal reform the U.S. Postal Service is developing a more accountable rate-making structure, as most catalogers should be aware by now, replacing irregular rate hikes with more predictable and regular adjustments. It’ll take serious housecleaning

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.

Curve Your Enthusiasm
January 1, 2008

The management of catalog businesses large and small depends on order curves. Yet order curves are affected by several different factors — mail delivery, the weather, time of year, etc. — all of which affect delivery times. This month, I want to touch on the factors that affect these curves, because your actions have the most influence over how soon orders start flowing after the initial mail date and when order levels will peak. Typically, orders start flowing in seven to 10 days after the initial mail date based on a normal five-day mail distribution pattern. If the initial mail date is

Some Not-So-Obvious Ways to Get Through the Tough Holiday Season Ahead
November 16, 2007

Reading retail sales, housing sales and consumer confidence reports the past couple of weeks while watching the stock market sink, I’ve become quite worried about the outlook for the holiday season for catalog/multichannel marketers. Retailers collectively reported their worst October in 12 years, and a Conference Board report last week said consumer confidence dropped in early November to its lowest level since Hurricane Katrina triggered soaring oil prices two years ago. Meanwhile, recent reports from the National Association of Realtors showed sales of existing homes had plunged to their lowest level in nearly a decade. None of this bodes well for catalogers. So

The Power of Print: Experts Offer Printing Tips to Offset Postal Rate Increase
October 2, 2007

In keeping with the recent NEMOA conference’s overriding theme of trimming down and keeping your catalog business fit, three printing and postal experts offered techniques to help combat the May postal rate increase as well as anticipated rate hikes in the near future through smart and effective mailing plans, list hygiene and postage discounts. Ann Marie Bushell, group executive vice president of marketing for the Global Print Solutions Group of RR Donnelley; Joe Schick, director of postal affairs for Quad/Graphics; and Anita Pursley, vice president of postal affairs for the Quebecor World Logistics division of Quebecor World, comprised the guest panel at NEMOA’s

Postal Rx: Press Your Printer for Answers to Co-mailing Questions
September 25, 2007

During a session at last week’s NEMOA conference in Portland, Maine, Joe Schick, director of postal affairs for printer Quad/Graphics, offered up 20 key questions catalogers should ask their printers about co-mailing. For the first question — a two-parter, how will I know if co-mailing is beneficial for me? And is there an up-front analysis to determine this? — he laid out a chart to determine how a cataloger’s file can perform on its own. This, he said, is the first step in estimating co-mailing savings. The chart includes: title name, in-home start, page count, estimated piece weight, carrier route percentage, estimated postage and

A Look Inside Appleseed’s World and Its Customers’ World
September 20, 2007

In the September (print) issue of Catalog Success, I discussed the opportunity catalogers and multichannel merchants have to aggressively pursue the older end of baby boomers, some of whom are now in their 60s. In Portland, Maine, on Sept. 20 for the fall NEMOA Conference, I was taken by the opening presentation given by Claire Spofford, senior vice president and chief brand officer for the Orchard Brands unit of Golden Gate Capital, (formerly Appleseed’sTopCo). Having joined Appleseed’s earlier this decade to bring a retail and brand accent to the mature women’s apparel cataloger, Spofford now presides over a thriving multititle multichannel business that’s as

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

Formulating a B-to-B Catalog Mailing Plan, Part 1
July 17, 2007

Calculating customer acquisition costs and devising a profitable mailing plan are forever a challenge, regardless of the economic conditions or changing consumer buying habits. During last week’s MeritDirect Co-op in White Plains, N.Y., the list firm’s vice president of database strategy Dan Harding helped to provide some of that strategy. Included below are some of his tips. 1. Avoid acquisition costs as a lone decision-maker. Figure out your future profitability costs in relation to your overall costs and the various categories of cost, Harding said. Knowing your future profit overall won’t help much, but you can divide your costs into 10 categories (such as