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

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

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.