Printing/Production

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

Formulating a B-to-B Catalog Mailing Plan, Part 2
July 17, 2007

During his presentation at last week’s MeritDirect Co-op in White Plains, N.Y., the list firm’s vice president of database strategy Dan Harding touched on key points regardng production and creative costs; all factors to be considered when setting up a B-to-B mailing plan. In this second part of a two-part series in this edition, he laid out six more tips. 7. Integrate page changes. Harding noted that modest page changes from edition to edition of catalogs can improve productivity compared to pages that don’t change. He suggested changing 6 percent to 10 percent of inside pages with each monthly catalog mailing to customers. Creative

Learn How to Improve Now from a Great Futurist (No, Not Me)
July 13, 2007

As has been its annual custom, B-to-B list firm MeritDirect’s annual co-op event in White Plains, N.Y. on July 12 was kicked off by a provocative and entertaining presentation by catalog veteran and futurist Don Libey. Having heard Don speak plenty of times in the past (and despite his frequent speaking appearances, rarely does he repeat a single concept, strategy or idea), I’ve long since learned how to filter through his motivational pep talk and the meat of what he delivers. While always entertaining, his shtick is always chockfull of meat, but it often looks beyond tomorrow. And after all, we all want to

27 Steps to Efficient Catalog Productions
July 1, 2007

This Web-only exclusive offers 27 quick steps in the catalog production process worth considering. 1. Determine unique selling proposition. 2. Define editorial position. 3. Determine catalog look. 4. Complete square-inch analysis. 5. Preliminarily review continuation product. 6. Preliminarily review new products. 7. Prepare product information sheets. 8. Review pick-up copy and presentation. 9. Paginate and allocate space. 10. Finalize merchandise selection. 11. Present initial design concepts. 12. Layout catalog, first draft. 13. Design order form. 14. Revise layouts, second draft. 15. Write manuscript copy. 16. Plan the photo shoot. 17. Shoot new photography. 18. Revise manuscript copy. 19. Finalize pricing, sizing, etc. 20. Finalize photo picks. 21. Prepare composed pages, first draft. 22. Proof loose color. 23. Revise composed pages, second draft. 24. Finalize composed pages. 25. Create

Catalog Production: Sorting Out a Complex Process
July 1, 2007

Catalog design and production today are faster than ever, but the process still can be daunting. The steps outlined here begin with branding considerations and end with catalog printing. Some firms add interim proofing steps that may or may not improve the catalog, but certainly do add to the expense. For that reason, consider these to be the optimum number of steps needed to efficiently organize the production process to create a catalog on time and on budget. (In addition to the 17 outlined below, you’ll find 10 more key steps online, if you follow the story to the Web at end of

10 More Key Steps to On-Time/On-Budget Catalog Production
July 1, 2007

In my print story, I outlined for you what I believe to be the 17 most important and crucial steps in the catalog production process. But there are 10 others that also are worth seriously considering. 1. Define your editorial position and the entire tone of your catalog copy by your brand strategy. If it’s low price, you’ll be screaming sale or value at every opportunity; but if it’s quality, you’ll focus on product benefits and your tone will be more authoritative and/or educational. 2. Prepare product information sheets for all new products. These sheets will be the bible used by copy and

Pointers From the Pros: Printers Offer Their Tips for Mailing Smarter
June 1, 2007

Printers are full of useful (and free) advice for their catalog clients. Their suggestions range from doing more customizing and co-mailing to learning more about how the postal rate increases are affecting catalogers. Here are some of their top tips for catalogers: 1. Consider a trim cut to get into co-mailing. “Even a minor trim size modification may allow them to mail with other catalogers and save postal dollars,” advises Dave Blais, senior vice president of sales and administration at Quad/Graphics. 2. Make it personal. Customizing and personalizing catalogs is a growing trend, Blais notes. But more catalogers should consider it to increase response. “Some