J. Schmid & Assoc.

Multichannel: Create a Seamless Multichannel Experience
July 19, 2005

“Letting the customer choose how to interact with your company is critical, but interactions across channels must be as seamless as possible,” said Steve Trollinger, senior vice president of client marketing for catalog consultancy J. Schmid& Associates, at his session “7 Ways to Increase Customer Value Today and Tomorrow” at the Annual Catalog Conference held in May in Orlando, Fla. Following are some tips Trollinger offered to make the multichannel experience easier on customers: * Use common branding cues. Your Web site should look like the catalog or retail store that spawned it, said Trollinger. * Make products easy to find. Include a catalog”quick buy” feature

Prospecting: Improve Customer Lifetime Value
June 7, 2005

“Although less than 40 percent of catalog companies conduct a lifetime-value analysis of their customers, it can be a powerful tool in new customer acquisition efforts,” said Steve Trollinger, senior vice president of client marketing for catalog consultancy J. Schmid& Associates at his session “Seven Ways to Increase Customer Value Today and Tomorrow” at the Annual Catalog Conference held last month in Orlando, Fla. In that session, Trollinger offered the following tips: ¥ Don’t just focus on initial acquisition costs. It’s tempting to try to make your money back on prospects as quickly as you can, but it’s also possible that a higher acquisition cost

Boost Revenues With Bundles and Kits
June 1, 2005

Adding targeted product groupings that give your business customers more for less, or that present solutions to their needs, certainly will boost your catalog’s revenue base. Product bundles and kits easily fit that bill. An example of a bundle offer for a consumer catalog: A cookware catalog that sells kitchen knives could sell a paring knife and a filet knife but offer both together at a modest discount. A kit differs from a product bundle in that it ultimately marries products that will complement one another under one SKU and gets the customer to an end goal of some sort. Keeping with the

B-to-B Catalogers: Try Prospecting via Cable TV
May 24, 2005

The Home Shopping Network, QVC, ShopNBC -- cable television is finding a new audience, and it’s not limited to jewelry buyers paying in installments. Business-to-business catalogers are making their entrance on the small screen. Electronics, printers, cleaning supplies, tools, office supplies and even food gifts are enjoying a bit of sweetness in their sales. One tip before plunging into cable: Ask the producers about who owns the transaction data, and get information about the channel’s typical buyers. J. Schmid& Assoc. (www.jschmid.com) is a catalog consultancy based in Mission, Kan., (913) 236-8988.

Catalogers Adapt Their Print Editions to Online Success
April 1, 2005

Two years ago, J.C. Penney Co. unveiled its latest branding slogan, “It’s all inside,” to illustrate to consumers that no matter which channel they shop — retail, catalog or online — they’ll find the same from Penney in terms of merchandise, service and the overall brand. No other companies have copied Penney’s slogan, of course, but many have followed the same path, recognizing that with more orders coming online, customers need to know that regardless of which channel they choose, they can expect a similar experience. Easy Does It Some catalogers have been making subtle alterations in their approaches to the print book

Creative: Best Practices Between a Catalog Company and Its Creative Agency
February 15, 2005

Catalogers who outsource their catalog creative and production often ask themselves the following questions: *How can we work together better? *How can we build a smoother creative process for our catalog? *How can we control our schedule and creative budget better? *How can we produce a better and more compelling catalog? *How can we be more consistent in our creative presentation to customers? *How can our catalog enhance the company’s niche and brand better? The road to building and maintaining a smooth relationship between a catalog company and its creative agency is often marred with pitfalls. Here are some best practices for building and maintaining a harmonious, mutually respectful relationship between

Grow Sales and Your Bottom Line
February 1, 2005

Particularly challenging in today’s business-to-business (b-to-b) catalog environment is testing new ideas that can have a positive impact on future revenues and profits. And if you have a big, perfect-bound catalog, effective testing can be even more problematic. But you have alternatives that can help you present new merchandise and offers or target a special message to a specific customer segment. In Your Creative While consumer catalogs have used order-form changes to test offers, messages and even products, b-to-b catalogs — with their more common single page, back-of-the-book order form — usually must find other ways to test new ideas. It might

Numbers Tell a Story
October 1, 2004

quare inch analysis (SQUINCH) is an extraordinary tool for consumer and business catalogers alike. Sorted and executed the right way, a comprehensive SQUINCH can serve as a creative road map to your catalog campaigns, just as your contact strategy defines the plan from a marketing perspective. A comprehensive square inch analysis allows you to evaluate product sales and placement to determine whether the right product, price point or category is given the appropriate amount of space in the right location in your catalog. And by basing the analysis on customer behavior, as culled through transactional data, you can keep your “gut feeling” from being

Freshness Sells
October 1, 2004

Many business-to-business (b-to-b) catalogers fail to periodically refresh their creative elements and end up making common mistakes in copywriting, photography, layout and design. To discern if you’re guilty of stale or ineffectual catalog creative, ask yourself the following questions. “Am I employing copy that’s appropriate for b-to-b customers in particular?” “B-to-b products tend to be more practical because they’re meant to help customers solve business problems,” says Sarah Fletcher, president of Charlestown, R.I.-based Catalog Design Studios, a catalog consultancy. You can’t sell on emotion in a b-to-b catalog like you can in a consumer catalog, she continues. Gina Valentino, vice president and general manager

The Causes of List Fatigue
October 1, 2004

List fatigue is top of mind for many direct marketers these days. What is list fatigue, what causes it, and how can you combat it? Reductions in catalog prospecting circulation over the past several years, in conjunction with shrinking list and co-op database universes and an overall weak economy, have led to what commonly is being referred to as “list fatigue.” How, you may ask, can a list become fatigued? Jo Ann Alberts, vice president of list brokerage and management firm American List Counsel, Princeton, N.J., explains: “Because of extensive cutbacks in prospecting and only utilizing the top lists, mailers are exhausting