McIntyre Direct

Three Years and $3 Million to Break Even
October 1, 2000

The longer you’ve been in cataloging, the more variations you will have heard for this month’s rule of thumb. Over the years I’ve heard two years and $2 million, four years and $4 million, even five years and $5 million—but all variations seem to agree that it takes several years and about the same number of millions of dollars for a new catalog to reach breakeven. How reliable is this rule? Are there exceptions? Or has launching a successful catalog truly become a millionaire’s game these days? We’ll find some answers in this column, beginning with a precise definition of our rule: The

The Rule of Lists
September 1, 2000

One of the legendary Bob Stone’s “Timeless Direct Marketing Principles” is this: Maximizing direct mail success depends first upon the lists you use, second upon the offers you make and third upon the copy and graphics you create. Over the years, I’ve seen many variations on Stone’s principle, such as “60 percent lists, 30 percent offer, 10 percent creative” or “40 percent lists, 30 percent offer, 30 percent creative,” and so on. But no matter what the variation, all experts basically agree that lists are king, and everything else is secondary. So that’s how I’ll phrase my “Rule of Lists” for this

Three Mini-Rules of Thumb
June 1, 2000

In prior columns I’ve looked at several of the “big” rules of thumb in cataloging—truths large enough to fill a whole column with their ins and outs. But this month, as a change of pace, I thought we’d take a look at three “mini” rules of thumb, each too small for a whole column, yet each important in its area, and well worth knowing for the cautious cataloger. So let’s get started. Mini Rule of Thumb #1: “List rollouts never perform as well as list tests.” This little rule sounds like pure pessimism at first (“Ahhh, nothin’ ever works right.”)But it’s far more than

More Pages, Higher Sales
January 1, 2000

By Susan McIntyre Wouldn't it be nice if there was a rule of thumb that could tell you exactly how to increase your catalog's response rates and sales? Well there is. I call it the rule of "More Pages, Higher Sales." As always, I'll start with a precise definition: The Rule of More Pages, Higher Sales If you add pages that sell product to a consumer catalog, you'll get higher response rates and sales in rough proportion to the number of pages added. "What makes this rule work?" This rule works because adding pages usually means adding more products. For example,

The Iron Rule of RFM
October 1, 1999

Few rules of thumb are so deeply embedded in our thoughts that we’re surprised to recall that they’re really just rules of thumb, not scientifically proven facts. And for many, that’s the case for this month’s rule of thumb: the rule of recency, frequency, monetary value (shortened to RFM). As catalogers we use RFM constantly, almost without thinking about it, not because psychologists have proved to us that it should work, but because as marketers we know that it simply does work, day in and day out, and has been working since the earliest days of cataloging. As with most everyday things though, a

Co-op Databases
August 1, 1999

Co-op’er-a-tive, adj. 1. Involving cooperation 2. Willing to act with others The definition alone brings to mind families coming together to harvest their neighbor’s crop, a small town coordinating and executing the annual 4th of July celebration or business owners sharing ideas not only to increase their own profitability but to benefit their entire industry. Standing alone provides little shelter from the rain. Standing together provides the unity to build and strengthen a solid foundation to withstand any storm. —Direct Marketing Technology’s Brochure for Zero24 The concept of a cooperative database is at once seductive and scary as hell. Seductive, because you, the

Cataloging Hot Spots
August 1, 1999

In a world where anything more than a month old is in danger of being considered obsolete, rules of thumb are a happy exception—they take time to develop, and the best of them gain validity with age. In our last article we explored one of the oldest rules of thumb: the 1-percent response rate. In this column we’ll explore a rule that’s almost equally old: catalog hot spots. We often hear about catalog “hot spots”—those magical spots in our catalogs that can dramatically boost sales for almost any product we place there. But do such hot spots actually exist? Where are they, and why

The Puzzling, Frustrating 1 Percent Response Rate
May 1, 1999

For this inaugural article, no rule of thumb could be better to start with than the oldest, strangest, most puzzling and often the most frustrating rule of them all: the 1 percent response rate. Definition: 1 Percent Response Rule Most catalogers have at least heard of this rule, but I’ve never seen a really careful definition of it. So here’s my precise definition of the 1 percent response rule: The 1 Percent Response Rule: If you mail an average-size catalog, with merchandise of average desirability, at average-value price points, to an average selection of response lists, then your average response rate (number of orders

Lands' End - Taking On Content (1,379 words)
November 26, 1998

Think about this: The Direct Marketing Association estimates the average household receives 1.7 catalogs per week. The direct marketing shopper is probably not in your average household, so that number jumps dramatically for the direct mail-responsive. Now consider that there are roughly 100 million households in the United States. At the rate of 1.7 catalogs a week, it's safe to say the average consumer mailbox receives 88.4 books per year for an annual 8.84 billion in circulation. From a marketer's point of view, explains Susan McIntyre, president of McIntyre Direct, if you're sending out 20 catalogs a year, you'll need to do something