Strategy: Make Matchbacks a Routine
November 1, 2006

Matchbacks have become routine for catalogers. This is the process in which you check your orders against your recent mail tapes to give credit to the proper source code — to see where sales are originating, and which key code should be given credit for each sale. With the amount of business going to the Web, it’s next to impossible to track results to a specific source code without doing a matchback. How a Matchback Is Done Matchbacks link orders to mailings using merge/purge logic. The process allocates unknown orders back to mailed records based on customer-provided source code, customer number, merge/purge results,

Catalog Marketing: How to Get the Most Out of Your Catalog Co-op
October 31, 2006

While working with multiple cooperative databases can help you reach new prospects you might not have found otherwise, how can you be sure you’re getting the best results from each database? Developing a close relationship with your representative at each co-op is probably the best place to start, says Gayla Kraus, vice president of sales at Harrison, N.Y.-based co-op I-Behavior. A clear understanding of each co-op’s services will allow you to make the most out of your customer file and models based on it. Following are other tips offered by Kraus: * Keep your data up to date. Although it sounds simple, if every cataloger

The Four Steps to Take Before Starting a Catalog (Ya Gotta Start Somewhere)
October 17, 2006

I’d like to address the must-have core competencies you’ll need when either starting or maintaining a catalog. But first, I’ll respond to Micah and Rob’s comments from last week. Yes, the Internet is both a pull AND push medium. I didn’t forget e-mail to drive business. I just left it out for the sake of contrasting pull vs. push. Thanks for speaking up.

On to the topic of the next few weeks: What does it take to start a catalog business?

Many of the people who ask this aren’t necessarily sitting at their kitchen tables, looking to be the next Lillian Vernons. They’re accomplished retailers,

Don’t start a catalog!
September 30, 2006

Really… I mean it!

If you’re not already in the catalog business, don’t start one. In fact, you can stop reading here.

Don’t even waste your time…

O.K., you got me. I’m being ironic.

In fact, a few paragraphs down, I’ll tell you why now is the best time to start a catalog business. But, only as long as you’re willing to follow the few simple rules of the catalog business. Rules that run counterintuitive to your current business model.

To me, this is a fitting way to start my first weekly blog (silly word blog, but less silly than saying the word “spam”

Discount-impacting Proposals
September 29, 2006

What’s out: All automation-related discounts for UFSM 1000-sortable flats (catalogs). What’s in: Automations-rate eligibility discounts to only those flats that can be processed by AFSM 100 sorters. Action needed: Reconfigure catalog dimensions to conform to tighter postal discount eligibility.

Catalog Success Exclusive: How Gulf Coast DM Sales Weathered the Ills of 2005
September 12, 2006

Despite a postal rate increase and natural disasters in the United States, direct marketing revenue was up 10 percent from 2004 to 2005, according to a recent report from co-op database provider Abacus obtained exclusively by Catalog Success. Sales increased an average of 15 percent for 2005, with a peak increase of 21 percent over 2004 in August. Sales rose by 13 percent in September, despite Hurricane Katrina’s late August impact. In data revealed exclusively to Catalog Success, Abacus shows the effects Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had on direct sales on the Gulf Coast in Q2 and Q3 2005. Alabama Mobile: Q2 sales up

Postal: Three Ways to Reduce Postal Costs and Increase Response
September 12, 2006

With the holiday season around the corner, and a double-digit postal increase on the horizon, consider where you can gain incremental value out of your housefile. Mike Yapuncich, vice president, solution support for data services provider Experian, offers a few tips on how to do just that: 1. Mail to the correct address. “The most important thing that catalogers should be doing to get incremental value out of their housefiles is [to use] NCOALink,” Yapuncich says. This process updates your housefile based on new mover information registered with the USPS. Yapuncich notes that while some catalogers try to save money by using NCOALink quarterly, the

Prepare For the Postal Hike
August 1, 2006

When postage rates increase, catalogers really feel the pinch. For example, in January of this year, we experienced a 5.4 percent rate hike. This was the first rate increase since June 2002 (which, at the time, was the third increase in two years). Brace yourself for yet another increase in 2007. What’s more, rumor has it the U.S. Postal Service wants to increase rates again in 2008, which would make three rate hikes in three years. These increases could be steep enough to push some smaller catalogers over the edge. They could mean the difference between profit and loss on an income statement.

Circulation: RFM Optimization Still a Successful Segmentation Tool
May 16, 2006

Although it’s one of cataloging’s oldest circulation planning practices, recency/frequency/monetary value (RFM) segmentation is under-used by many smaller catalogers, pointed out John Lenser, president of circulation planning consulting firm Lenser during his session, “Circulation and Merge Strategies in a Multichannel World,” at last week’s ACCM. “RFM’s been the buzzword of direct marketing for as long as I can remember,” Lenser said. “The reality is, you want to segment by RFM even if you have two names in a cell.” He offered several RFM segmentation tips: *Create appropriate segments irrespective of segment size. *There’s no need for statistical significance in segment size. *Don’t be afraid to segment house files

Know Your Carrier and Know Your Business During Negotiations
April 25, 2006

Long gone are the days of relying solely on United Parcel Service (UPS) or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for all your small package ground delivery needs. Nowadays, most mailers are not only turning to a mixture of different carriers, but they’re also better able to negotiate carrier contracts than ever before. Rick Collins and Tim Geiken, both managing directors at transportation and shipping consultancy AFMS Inc., offered during a session at NCOF several negotiation pointers to catalog shippers when working out small parcel shipping contracts with carriers. Among these, -Understand your business better than your carrier does. -Look at your previous contracts and how well