Gilbert Direct Marketing

Cost Reduction: Is Downsizing a Last Resort, or Merely the Road More Easily Traveled?
October 28, 2008

There have been some high profile layoffs in our industry over the last few weeks. And with our economy in the tank, companies experiencing slumping sales and the outlook for the rest of Q4 painted as “bleak,” it’s safe to expect more downsizing to follow.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about how to bulletproof your career in this economy by cutting costs. And don’t fear, I have many more cost-cutting/revenue-creating tips for you this week. (Forthcoming, stay tuned.)
(For my most recent column, and those cost-cutting tips, click here.)
But first I’d like to address all the C-level folks who read my column (and

Are We Communicating or What? Part 4 of 4
September 30, 2008

Two weeks ago, we defined the four major touchpoints of communication (which I call the four crappy communicators) as:
1. what you’re thinking;
2. what you actually say;
3. what the other person hears; and
4. how the other person interprets what’s heard.
(For part 1, click here, for part 2, click here, and for part 3, click here.)
So, what’s the secret to being a great communicator? It’s simple: Excellent communicators make sure that what they say is interpreted correctly. Most people communicate to be heard. They’re most concerned that the listener hears what they say.
But there’s one step beyond No. 4

Are We Communicating or What, Part 3 of 4
September 16, 2008

Before I begin, I just wanted to let you know that my column will now appear on an every-other-week schedule. As of this week, it’s officially two years since I started writing this Web column for Catalog Success. For the year prior to that, I wrote a monthly column in the print magazine.
When you break it down, that’s about 200 pages worth of information I’ve written on direct and catalog marketing.
From a pace perspective, I try not to repeat myself too often, but then again, there are always those basic concepts that warrant repeating.
So, I’ve decided to slow my pace down

Are We Communicating or What? Part 2 of 3
September 2, 2008

It looked like I was going to write this great, witty piece about stupid business jargon for you for this week. But as sometimes happens, life and of course holidays got in the way.
(For part 1, click here.)
I have a backup plan though. After I wrote part 1 of this series, I went to LinkedIn and used its Q&A function. I asked the question about what silly jargon people hate in the business world and got a lot of great answers.
Here’s the link to the answers, many of which are wittier than this writer could ever have come up with:;Eamq.<br

Are We Communicating or What? (Part 1)
August 19, 2008

I speak much differently in the business world than I do in real life.
In real life, I like to use little words and keep all concepts simple. I wish I could do that in the business world. Frankly, I’d prefer to use the word “total” than “aggregate,” even though that’s a lousy example. Truth is, I’m a believer that if there are two choices of words to use, I prefer the simpler one. I find I communicate more effectively that way.
Unfortunately, as a business executive, it’s expected of me to be a bit more high-minded. There must be some unwritten law,

I’m Proud as Hell — That We’re Not Taking It Anymore!
August 12, 2008

“I’ve officially had enough, and I’m done sitting around letting it happen. This morning I paid $3.97/gallon for regular unleaded gas.”
I wrote the above paragraph just three short months ago in my April 29 column.
Yesterday, I paid $3.87 for a gallon of regular gas, and, believe it or not, I was thrilled to death. It’s incredible how quickly perspective can change.
The truth is, gas prices are down about 30 cents here in Florida in the last few weeks. And part of that’s because we finally took a stand. As of last Friday evening, oil prices were just more than

How to Create Catalog Test Scenarios That Matter, Part 2 of 2
August 5, 2008

This week in the final installment of this two-part series on the value of creating mail tests that produce measurable, and telling, results for your catalog, I provide takeaway lessons from last week’s example of how one catalog company tested the profitability of using an upgraded paper stock in its catalog. I’ll also list some tips to help ensure your company is conducting productive mail tests.
(For part 1, click here.)
The Moral of the Story
Even scientific tests often succumb to the subjective. Once all of your scientific testing is done, the art of interpreting the data takes over. Returning to last

How to Create Catalog Test Scenarios That Matter, Part 1 of 2
July 29, 2008

In part one of a two-part series on the value of creating mail tests that produce measurable, and telling, results for your catalog, this week I tell the story of one cataloger and how its testing proved to have inexact results.
Catalogers these days are racking their brains thinking about ways to decrease costs. Many have turned to changing their books. But as I illustrate below, making universal changes to your catalog can have mixed results.
Some of the earliest direct marketers called their work “scientific advertising.” Catalogers separate themselves from brand marketers by measuring their results and learning from their successes

Returns: A Growth Industry, Part 2 of 2
July 22, 2008

In the final part of this two-part series examining the value of convenient and cost-effective return policies, this week I examine how in-house quality control, product exchanges and catalog circulation can affect your company’s return practices.
(For part 1, click here.)
Quality Control=Less Returns
It’s vital to maintain strict quality control in your fulfillment center. If you have a high rate of people returning products because they received the wrong items, you likely have an internal quality control issue. Make sure your shipping personnel packs orders in an appealing way. Remember, you never get a second chance at a first impression. If your

Returns: A Growth Industry, Part 1 of 2
July 15, 2008

In the first part of a two-part series examining the value of convenient and cost-effective return policies for multichannel merchants, this week I provide tips on how to make company guarantees more effective, as well as looking at the benefit of determining why your customers are returning products.
Most consumers perceive the returns process to be a big hassle. Everyone who’s ever bought a product via mail order has at least one horror story about trying to return an item. But, I’ve also heard the opposite. In fact, I’ve heard people brag about how easy the return process is when they’ve had an