McIntyre Direct

Matchback Do’s and Don’ts
March 1, 2006

The right steps for successful matchbacks differ only in their complexity of rules, priorities and match criteria. Not surprisingly, the rules applied get increasingly more complex the more contact pieces you have in the mail at one time. Therefore, well thought-out criteria are critical in maximizing the usefulness of the matchback process. Do gather relevant data from your matchback vendor. Include in your file appropriate sales data such as name, address and customer number. Also include all order information such as date of purchase; order total with or without shipping (depending on how you typically do your reporting); and product information if you plan

Chronicles: Test Your Way to a Winning Catalog Cover
February 1, 2006

Testing front covers is one of the easiest and most important tests catalogers can do. Front covers are the doorway into your catalog, so your cover must entice customers to open the door and step through into the wonderful world inside. Testing will help you learn what it takes to get your customers to open that door more often. “Copy destroys the graphic integrity of my cover design.” Magazine designers love a lot of copy on the front cover, but catalog designers hate it. “I’ve been designing catalogs for years. Trust me, I know what sells,” said Maurice, the catalog designer. “All those words

So You Want to Start a Catalog
October 1, 2005

“Give me a place to stand and rest my lever on, and I can move the earth.” —Archimedes No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “starry-eyed,” but have you ever seen it? I did, in a young married couple I’ll call Mary and Joe. They dreamed of owning a catalog, and when they came to see me about a launch, their eyes sparkled in anticipation. ”We’ve done lots of research. We’ve built a business plan and sales projections. And we’ve saved enough for the initial investment.” A good start, I thought. These folks have a realistic plan. They’ve got a chance for the stars

Great Catalog Design for the Design Impaired
May 1, 2005

Can you tell good design from bad? Most people would say “yes.” But for most people it doesn’t really matter, because their jobs don’t depend on being able to tell the difference anyway. But for you it does matter — a lot. Great design is part of that subtle calculus that can boost or depress your catalog’s sales. And the reality is, most people can’t tell good design from bad, at least not if we define good design as that which appeals to the most, and offends the fewest, people in a catalog audience. So if you’re one of the design-impaired, how can you

Mysterious & Bizarre Results
March 1, 2005

Cataloging usually is a predictable world. We track everything, study it, place data in spreadsheets and end up knowing pretty well in advance how things will work out. In fact, if businesses had human personalities, cataloging would be your Aunt Matilda and Uncle Gus: safe, predictable, no surprises. But then there comes a day when Uncle Gus calls to say he has flown to Rio with his secretary, and Aunt Matilda has joined the circus. What do you do when the predictable becomes, well, unpredictable? The Mystery of the Rotten Rollout After several years of slow growth, the mid-sized niche cataloger decided he needed

Avoid the Time Crunch
December 1, 2004

How long does it actually take to produce a catalog? The answer depends on if you’re trying to do it the textbook way or the other way … March 20th. The phone rings. New cataloger: “Hi, I just printed my first catalog, so now I need some lists. Can you get me some lists so I can mail my catalog by the end of this month?” “You want to be in the mail in 10 days, and you’re starting the list process now?” “You bet. I wanted to leave you plenty of time.” Producing a catalog basically is a two-part process,

Do the Job Manually
October 1, 2004

In an era of computerization, it’s easy to imagine that all your competitors’ tasks are fully automated. Such a thought can make you, an individual cataloger, feel a bit embarrassed about your many manual tasks. But no matter how many computers you buy, you’re still going to find yourself forced to manually perform certain tasks simply because cataloging comprises many activities with ever-changing components that resist computerization. But manual tasks don’t mean inefficiency. One key to profitable cataloging is knowing how to perform manual tasks well. “Congratulations! You’ve paralyzed every phone in the company!” A national gift cataloger (that also has

Want to Put Your Customers to Work for You?
August 1, 2004

“This copy is confusing.” “I go to the trouble of calling, then end up in voice mail.” “Ordering from this company is just too much work.” Are your customers making similar complaints about your catalog? It’s surprising how many catalogers make their customers work too hard. From your catalog’s design to your contact center’s operations, whatever forces customers to work will reduce response rates. But when you do the work for your customers, your response rates go up. “If customers have questions, they’ll call.” I interviewed Connie, a career woman and mail-order shopper, about how she

Love Your Products If You Want Them to Sell
May 1, 2004

We had finished analyzing the catalog’s product sales. The unit sales, revenue and square inch reports all pointed to the same conclusions. “The big winners are those cute resin figurines,” I told the catalog’s owner. “Every time you add one, sales go up. You should add more this year. And the big loser is the expensive hand-signed pottery. Those should go.” She wrinkled her nose. “I’ve decided to discontinue all the resin. I don’t want resin in the catalog anymore.” “But why?” I asked. “Your customers love them.” “They’re tacky. I’d never have them in my house. I’ve signed a contract with the pottery

Cut-rate Layouts
February 1, 2004

It really is possible for catalog design costs to occasionally approach zero, without sacrificing sales. And doing so can be a stimulating challenge. All in the Family We’d been going over the catalog budget estimate for hours, line by line. I was familiar with how tight-fisted this client was, and I’d already cut his estimate to the bone. But he kept probing for tricks to cut even more. “Why is design so high? It’s just putting photos and copy on a page. My nephew who knows Quark can do that,” the client said. “Well, there’s more to it than that. It takes