J. Schmid & Assoc.

B-to-B Cataloging: Catalog Nip & Tuck
June 1, 2007

Some of the most exciting layouts and page designs in the catalog industry are happening in B-to-B. And you’ll find them in some unlikely places. It used to be that B-to-B catalogs essentially were commodity lists of products. Today, however, the best B-to-B catalogs take all of the tricks used by their B-to-C counterparts and make them work harder. Here are two quick tips to help you freshen your design and improve sales. The order of products in your catalog acts as either a welcome mat or a do-not-disturb sign to customers. For customers, the order process begins in two places — your

Boost Sales and Shopability via Photography and Merchandising
June 1, 2007

Two more tips to help you freshen your design and improve sales. Photography The best B-to-B photography tells a story. You can tell a story by showing the product in use, by showing comparisons and contrasts, and by showing the drawbacks of not using your product. Just like great copy, B-to-B photography should be benefit-driven. Metalcraft, based in Mason City, Iowa, sells a line of commodity items that it manufactures: I.D. plates and barcode labels for fixed assets. Yes, creating drama with I.D. tags poses special challenges, but the catalog pulls it off nicely. On its back cover, a hand wearing a heavy-duty rubber glove uses a

B-to-B Cataloging: Cast a Powerful Net
March 1, 2007

Finding and retaining good employees tops the list of major concerns for catalogers. Often catalog companies are located in less populated areas, where finding qualified staff is a challenge. If you’re located in a larger city, you face the challenge of losing your trained staff to other companies. Salary, benefits and work environment are important for employees. But an overlooked aspect of employee retention is brand. Brand not only helps attract and retain customers, but it’s also essential for attracting and retaining good employees. A good gauge of whether customers will want to shop at your company is whether employees want to work there.

B-to-B Cataloging: Are You Right Sized?
December 1, 2006

Not long ago, an art director for a “big book” cataloger asked me to critique her work, a catalog the size of a large metropolitan phone directory. Paging through, I asked what kind of sales analysis was performed on the merchandise, because the catalog promoted more than 30,000 unique SKUs. She replied none. The marketing department couldn’t hire more staff, and no one had time. Urging her to do something about that, I warned her that her company could end up building a new warehouse to store a lot of SKUs that aren’t selling. She reached toward me, gripped the catalog in her right

The 50 Best Tips of 2006
November 1, 2006

What better way for a tips-oriented business magazine to wind down 2006 than with the top 50 tips of the year? My staff and I spent the past several weeks going through every article that’s run so far in Catalog Success and the Catalog Success Idea Factory e-newsletter this year to bring you the ultimate how-to “cheat sheet.” Throughout these pages, we’ve synthesized the year’s best tips, summarizing, and in some cases quoting directly, from stories and/or the sources themselves, where noted. Below each, you’ll see the industry expert who offered the tip. We reference the issue from which the tips originate so

B-to-B Cataloging: Boost Response With Nontraditional List Selects
October 1, 2006

In business-to-business (B-to-B), several key factors aside from traditional recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) values could play a significant role in the list selection process for both your prospect files and housefile. Taking the time to identify these factors can pay huge dividends in your response rates. RFM should continue to play the paramount role in your list selections, but consider these additional house and prospecting list strategies that will help you in your marketing efforts. Heed the X-factor An X-factor is any variable that identifies a file segment not defined by RFM value criteria. X-factors don’t replace RFM; they supplement it. Significant portions of many

Don’t Try This at the Office
January 1, 2006

Smart marketers, sales teams and business owners recognize the opportunity to develop a direct mail piece that exclusively promotes a single product — an item with a strong margin and an identifiable target audience. Usually the item has a high price point and specific benefits for the buyer — as well as a surplus of information that necessitates more space than a catalog page realistically can accommodate. If identifying the opportunity is that easy, how quickly do you become a victim of either yours or a colleague’s best intentions? If you’re unsure, here are mistakes to avoid when implementing a single-product mailing.

Inventory Planning: Calendar Woes
December 7, 2005

When determining an inventory forecast, get everyone operating on the same assumptions, said Gina Valentino, vice president and general manager of catalog consultancy J. Schmid and Associates. For example, to ensure your operational systems agree, determine which days begin and end the week for each department. “Your call center may work on a Sunday through Saturday schedule for staff scheduling purposes, while your distribution center may work on a Monday through Sunday schedule,” said Valentino during the session “Forecasting the Future: Tips and Tricks from Marketing and Merchandising,” held during The Direct Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in New Orleans in October. “You want everyone working

Creative: Part 1. Keep Your Brand Identity Across Customer Touchpoints
October 18, 2005

As a multichannel marketer, you touch your customers in many ways. In a given year, they’ll see your catalog, e-mails, postcards, package inserts, Web site and even store displays. Across these varied media, what should stay the same? What should be different? Lois Boyle, president of Mission, Kan.-based catalog consultancy J. Schmid& Associates, offers the following three tips on maintaining brand identity across multiple customer touchpoints. 1. Vary your message, not your voice. Customers will get used to the way you speak to them, notes Boyle. If the same person isn’t responsible for writing copy for every customer touchpoint, keep samples of your copy voice on

B-to-B Cataloging: Data Purchases That Make Sense
August 1, 2005

Buying data to append to your housefile can seem like a risk. How can you be sure that your investment will pay off? And perhaps more importantly, how can you be sure you’re not squandering your IT department’s limited time in uploading the appended data? Your answers to these questions will depend on how you plan to use the data you buy. Some data purchases, such as National Change of Address, have a clear and measurable return on investment (ROI). You can directly account for the expense of the data purchase and upload, then compare that expense to the new or additional revenue