Kayaking, Partying & Profits
February 1, 2007

There’s a very thin line that ties together the two catalogs produced out of 132 Robin Hill Road in Santa Barbara, Calif. Founded in 1994 as Surf to Summit, a B-to-B catalog of kayakin g equipment, the company in 2001 spun off After 5, a consumer catalog of quirky — often wacky — products for wine and martini parties. After 5 came to life after the company found that its customers were responding briskly to the cocktail party-related novelties that it first offered almost as an afterthought in Surf to Summit. But that’s where any similarities between the two catalogs end. Although the

STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE: Catalogers Sound Off About 2007
February 1, 2007

To get a sense of how 2007 could play out on catalogers’ pocketbooks and growth aspirations, Catalog Success asked a few catalogers what they expect for the coming year. Catalog Success: How will your implementation of multichannel marketing strategies change this year compared to last? Tim Kiss, director of enterprise direct marketing, HoneyBaked Ham: We’d like to test dual channel offers. Most of our catalog and Web customers buy HoneyBaked as a gift. We’ll test discounts for money off when you buy for your family at one of our stores and send HoneyBaked as a gift. Phil Minix, president, Astral Direct: Our multichannel strategies

Insert Media: A Miniature Resurgence
February 1, 2007

Like other insert media programs, such as package stuffers and blow-ins, miniature catalogs have been around a long time. But in recent times, their popularity among catalogers appears to be on the rise. Catalogers as diverse in nature as nursing mother products marketer Motherwear International and B-to-B uniforms mailer UniFirst Corp. have been successful marketing through mini-format catalogs. What’s more, multi-title apparel and food cataloger Crosstown Traders plans to test its first miniature later this year. Defined primarily as having no more than 24 pages at various dimensions, miniatures can be a more efficient way to get your product offerings in front of

Postal Reform, Shmostal Reform: Beat any postal increase NOW (and look like a hero!) Part 3 of 3
January 2, 2007

Continuing the discussion started here a few weeks ago, I’m firing off some more tips to offset any postal increase, anytime. Use them in good health.

9. Get closer with your letter carrier: If you’re not using a printer who does destination entry programs, then find one quickly. With destination entry your printer trucks your catalog closer to the bulk mail centers and sectional center facilities. The end result is that your mail has travels a shorter distanceon its way to the end reader (your customer). The cost for trucking will be less than the discount from the post office. The end result: you save

Postal Reform, Shmostal Reform: Beat any postal increase NOW (and look like a hero!) Part 2 of 3
January 1, 2007

Continuing the discussion started here in December, here are some more tips to offset any postal increase, anytime.

6. Drive ’em on in. Can you get away with not mailing a catalog? How about testing a miniature catalog, or even a postcard designed to drive customers to your Web site. But don’t just implement it without knowing its impact; test it meticulously. (For more on miniature catalogs, watch for a special feature coming the February print edition of Catalog Success.)

7. Prospect with your best foot forward. Consider creating a smaller catalog just for prospecting purposes. Place your best selling products in it (from our squinch

Understanding Postal: Spare Your Bottom-line
January 1, 2007

Despite the passage last month of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, mailers soon will be faced with significant changes to the U.S. Postal Service’s Domestic Mail Classification Schedule, the document that serves as the regulatory framework for all postal rates and classifications. In my last column (“Beyond Rising Postal Rates,” October 2006 issue, pgs. 66-67), I shared some of what the USPS proposed in its current postal rate case. Postmaster General John Potter has said that mailers should be ready for new rules and rates to be implemented by May 7. Prudent mailers will get ready to adapt to many changes by early May. Part

POSTAL REFORM COMPLETE: Bush Signs Sweeping Bill into Law
December 21, 2006

At long last, President Bush on Dec. 20 signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 in a ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington. It was the first sweeping reform of the U.S. postal system since 1970. The bill, nearly a dozen years in the making, was passed through both chambers of Congress on the night of Dec. 8 and into the following early morning. Its passage will have no bearing the current postal rate case, however, according to Association of Postal Commerce president and Catalog Success columnist Gene Del Polito. Here’s a brief summary of how the reformed Postal

Postal Reform, Shmostal Reform: Beat any postal increase NOW (and look like a hero!)
December 12, 2006

Regardless of the fact that postal reform is on the verge of being signed into law, we all know one thing. Just like death and taxes, you can always count on postal rates to go up. So whether we get consistent, rate increases that are, alas, consistent with the consumer price index, or a whopper every few years, who cares? Because we always must work to compensate for increases.

The rule of thumb is for every penny your catalog costs go up, you must generate 2 cents per catalog mailed to compensate for it.

That means one of three things needs to happen: Your catalog

Editor’s Take: Lobbying
December 1, 2006

I recall watching a TV sketch more than 20 years ago in which Bette Midler depicted this mopey, depressed woman whose reaction to just about all situations in life was (in the character’s whiney, Noo Yawk accent), “Why bothuh?” Performed solo, the skit and her character were at the same time hilarious and chilling. When I think of lobbying for key catalog legislative issues — namely, postal reform and privacy — that character often creeps into my mind. Postal is perhaps the more pressing of the two concerns for catalogers. Since the first postal reform bill was introduced more than a decade ago, the Direct

Customer Retention: Keep ’Em And Hold ’Em
December 1, 2006

Beyond death, taxes and postal rate hikes, most catalogers’ primary worry in life is retaining customers. Aside from continuously offering appealing products and services, there are a number of effective approaches you need to take to keep your customers happy and doing repeat business with you. Naturally, the question is, “What methods can I try that I haven’t already tried 10 times?” For a few possible answers and techniques for you to test in different departments, consider the strategies offered by several catalog experts. Customer Service Good customer service starts with the first interaction you have with customers. And if your call center