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

Is There Light at the End of the Postal Tunnel?
December 18, 2007

In this second of my two-part series, I’ll examine how the shape of your catalog and mail quantities effect on U.S. Postal Service processes may influence future rate increases. I’ll also provide some tips for preparing yourself now for these increases. First, I don’t expect the USPS to eliminate the rate distinction between letters and flats. That said, the USPS will continue on the road to having shape reflected in its rate structure. Thus, the weight of a mail piece will continue to be less important than in the past. The increased reliance on shape in the last rate case reduced the effect of

Is There Light at the End of the Postal Tunnel?
December 11, 2007

In the first of a two-part series examining the recent passage of the postal rate-making reform law and its effect on catalogers, this week I’ll provide background on the U.S. Postal Service’s rate-making policy and how the new postal reform law will benefit direct marketers. First, let’s examine why and how catalogers found themselves on the short end of the stick following the implementation of new postal rates last May. Way back in 1990, the USPS asked the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) to recommend postal rates that would begin to reflect the processing-cost differences caused by the shape of the mail. The least

Are the USPS and the Internet Secretly Conspiring to Raise Your Catalog Costs?
December 4, 2007

If you don’t know it yet, the U.S. Postal Service, that wonderfully efficient government-sanctioned monopoly we all know and “love,” is planning to raise our postal rates again in 2008. Many still are trying to recover from the devastating blow it dealt us in May of this year. Now it wants to hit us again. To me, this is inconceivable and just plain deadly stupid. But then again, that’s what you get when you let big government run commerce.
I’m not here to bash our government, or even the USPS, but we need to scream, not whisper, for the next rate case

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

Turn One-time Buyers Into Multis
November 1, 2007

Catalogers spend loads of time and money acquiring one-time buyers. But there’s more you can do to get these individuals to purchase again. Typically, fewer than half of your first-time buyers make a second purchase. With the high cost of mailing catalogs today coupled with lower response rates, most catalog companies acquire new buyers at an incremental loss. Catalogers must be willing to make an investment in acquiring a new buyer to grow, knowing the payback will come sometime in the future. The amount of time to payback the investment — normally one year — can be reduced by developing a strategy to

Why Accurate Addressing Matters More Than Ever
November 1, 2007

There’s a lot that’s already been written on both the passage of postal reform and the 2006-7 postal rate case. To your never-ending relief, I have no intention to speak to either issue here. Sure, your business life often depends on rate case. And the passage of the first new postal law in three decades is nothing to sneeze at. Nonetheless, it’s the “little stuff,” the seemingly niggling changes in postal rules and mail make-up procedures that can carry costs that might add more to the cost burden mailers have to carry than inflation-bound rate changes. As one of our board members likes to put

The 50 Best Tips
November 1, 2007

Say what you will about this wonderful trade we call the catalog/multichannel business, but whichever way you spin it, you can’t go very far if you’re unprofitable. That’s why above all else — the marketing, the merchandising, the creative, the e-commerce, etc. — we’re most interested in helping our readers make more money. So we bring you our annual binge of tactics and tips extracted from all of this year’s issues of Catalog Success, our weekly e-newsletter Idea Factory and our biweekly idea exchange e-newsletter, The Corner View. Our editorial staff went through every article we’ve produced this year to give you a nice,

Service to Dozens of Southern California Post Offices Thwarted by Wildfires
October 25, 2007

Postal liasons from printer Quebecor World report that the following Southern California post offices have been affected by the California wildfires. Closed facilities: San Diego District: Dulzura (91917), Jamul (91935), Potrero (91963), Rancho Bernardo (92127/8), Escondido (92025), Fallbrook (92028), Palomar Mountain (92060) Pauma Valley (92061), Rancho Santa Fe (92067), San Marcos (92069), Santa Ysabel (92070), Valley Center (92082), Warner Springs (92086), Blue Jay (92317), Cedar Glen (92321), Crestline (92325), Fawnskin (92333), Green Valley Lake (92341), Lake Arrowhead (92352), Rimforest (92378), Running Springs (92382), Skyforest (92385) and Twin Peaks (92391) Los Angeles District: Malibu, CA (90265) - Malibu Colony Annex, Point Dume, La Costa

Don’t Fear Do-Not-Mail, Goldsmith Cautions
October 23, 2007

Dick Goldsmith of The Horah Group says that 81 percent of consumers like getting the mail, according to U.S. Postal Service figures. “They’re not all going to opt out of getting it,” he said. But he cautioned that he once bought his daughter something from J.Crew and continues to get a J.Crew catalog every week, “which is a waste.” He discussed the momentum of the “do-not-mail” movement during last week’s DMA07 Conference in Chicago. And you can hear the podcast interview ( with Goldsmith and Meta Brophy from Consumers Union, as well as other on-the-scenes commentary by findiing our exclusive Best of DMA07 coverage