McIntyre Direct

Location Shooting
August 1, 2002

After the plane landed with the photo crew, stylists, art director and models aboard, I was the first one off. I spotted the client waiting at security, all smiles. “Did you get all the permits?” I asked. The client’s smile faded. “Can we shoot downtown?” “Not quite yet,” the client said. “The national park location?” I asked. “Not exactly.” “The heliport?” “Well ...” When shooting on location, assume you’ll need a permit for everything, and each permit will take longer to get than you hoped. As a commercial venture, you have none of the freedom ordinary tourists have to take photos (especially

Stupid Catalog Tricks
June 1, 2002

“I’m embarrassed to be seen with my products.” The catalog was filled with attractive young models playing in the snow. It looked very nice, except ... “You sell camping gear, right?” I asked. “Absolutely,” said the catalog manager. “Which none of these models is using?” The manager smiled. “Our products are so ugly and boring, we realized the only way to sell them was to show something else.” “So how are sales?” “Not great.” I’m amazed by how many catalogers are embarrassed by the products they sell, and I see it in all product categories. It doesn’t correlate with the products themselves, either. They’re

Stock Tips
March 1, 2002

It turns out you can judge a book by its cover—if it’s a catalog. Even small books must make big first impressions. “You need to get [customers] to open your book, and you’ve got about three seconds to do it,” says John Rossiter, a senior sales representative from printing company R.R. Donnelley and Sons. And while design and copy undoubtedly play larger roles in grabbing customers’ and prospects’ attention, without the right paper stock a catalog cover may go unnoticed or misrepresent your brand. Following is a rundown of what to examine when selecting a cover stock. Brand and Basis Weight Many consultants and

After the Rain, Sun
October 1, 2001

IN THE DAYS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING the TRAGEDY of Sept. 11, 2001, the horrific event and what it was going to mean for our nation was all anyone could think about. Television networks covered the news of the terrorist attacks 24 hours a day, pre-empting all normal programming. Family, friends and co-workers talked constantly of what had happened to try to make some sense of it all and share their collective sense of loss. By the first weekend after the attacks, I couldn’t take any more of the sad and scary news. So I decided to turn off the TV and get out

Adventures in Cataloging: The Vital Importance of Good Copy
October 1, 2001

“Just make the photos big, and people will buy.” The cataloger had reviewed our production budget and was now on the phone. “What’s this big bill for copywriting?” he asked. “That’s the cost of writing all of your catalog copy.” “But we don’t need any copy,” he said. “You really do. Copy does for catalogs what a salesperson does in person: describes features, explains benefits, answers questions, asks for the sale.” “We still don’t want any. Who reads any more? Just put the photo on the page. If they like it, they’ll buy. If not, a bunch of words won’t change their minds.”

How to Deal With Challenging Vendors
September 1, 2001

If you’ve ever struggled with how to effectively manage relationships with your vendors, following are some tips learned from the trenches of cataloging. Complaints About the Call Center The second hand on my watch swept past 12 ... again. I’d been on hold for 10 long minutes. Another music-on-hold tune began, and I realized I’d heard it already. I’d been on hold so long, the tape loop was repeating! As I listened, I imagined all the customers who had viewed my beautiful catalog, read my great copy, found a product they really loved, called—and now were hanging up in disgust at the

Adventures in Data Processing
August 1, 2001

The man’s tone was solemn; his usually voluble partner was silent. “Our consultant projected a sales increase of 300 percent. We significantly boosted spending to handle it.” “And what sales increase are you seeing?” I asked. He paused. “We’ve had a 25-percent drop. We’re nearly bankrupt.” Catalogers put a lot of time, money and emotional effort into fine-tuning their positioning, design, circulation and product line. But when it comes to data processing (DP), most catalogers simply trust that all will be well. This can lead to disaster. In the true example given above, the business-to-business cataloger’s consultant had promised a 300-percent increase in sales,

War Stories: Press Checks Across America
April 1, 2001

The dashboard clock glowed 1:17 a.m. Driving snow covered the expressway so completely that only the tracks of the car ahead identified the road. A truck blasted past, and I dropped in behind, hoping he knew the road better than I. My rental car’s wipers and defroster were overwhelmed—I was craning to see through a three-inch diameter clear spot in the glass. Should I pull off? No, I’d miss my press check. Thirty miles to go. A “press check” is when you fly to the catalog printing plant, examine the first press sheets off the press, and have the press crew make whatever

War Stories: Managing a Photo Shoot on Location
February 1, 2001

E-mail to client: “I must strongly recommend against the proposed photo shoot location, on the grounds that one or more of the crew members could plunge 150 feet down the sheer cliff face to their death.” E-mail reply from client: “Life is risk.” Managing a catalog photo shoot on location is harder than it looks. In fact, a key part of a good project manager’s job is to make the job look easy, because a jittery project manager upsets the crew and slows the work. Whatever happens, as project manager your job is to take it all in stride, consider all your options and

Lists: Behavior Matters Most
February 1, 2001

Early in my freelance copywriting career, I was hired by The Bradford Exchange to launch Plate World, a magazine for collectors of limited-edition plates. Started by J. Roderick MacArthur, son of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (as in the foundation that bears their name and the people who made zillions selling mail order life insurance), the concept of The Bradford Exchange was to create a kind of stock exchange for collectors’ plates. It persuaded collectors that if they bought plates at the issue price, they stood a chance of making money in the so-called Secondary Market, which is pretty lucrative with some