February 2007 Issue


A Chat With Dennis Garvey, chief operating officer, U.S. Cavalry

© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, February 2007 Interview by Matt Griffin Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? Dennis Garvey: The catalog was first established very early on in the company, about 34 years ago, back In 1973. The company started in retail and relatively quickly started a catalog business, which really was one of the first in this industry, the military and law enforcement equipment industry. CS: Where are your headquarters? DG: Radcliff, Kentucky. Right outside of Fort Knox. CS: What is your primary merchandise? DG: It’s primarily been military gear, but we’ve expanded into law enforcement

Case Study: Site Search Solution Spikes Sales by 60 Percent

Problem: Organize.com sought to merchandise its site search results. Solution: It employed a site search software platform. Results: Online orders increased 60 percent in the first month. When Organize.com first employed an onsite search program in 1999, officials at the company believed the Yahoo! solution they implemented was state-of-the-art. Fast forward to the middle of 2005, and what was once a top-of-the-line technological breakthrough had become obsolete. Search results often were randomly displayed, and Organize.com was unable to track whether customers were using search to purchase. Organize.com wanted a solution that allowed its merchandisers to be able to decide which products were most relevant to customers’ searches,

Commit to Multichannel Integration

Susan McIntyre, president of Portland, Ore.-based catalog consultancy McIntyre Direct, recommends that catalogers look at how customers use their channels to interact with them. This often isn’t as simple as dividing customers into catalog, Web and retail buyers. The ideal strategy, she notes, considers the fact that some catalog shoppers want to be reminded to purchase via e-mail, while others will look at products online before taking their catalogs to retail locations to make a final purchase. The solution, she says, involves in-depth analysis of an integrated customer database, and a firm partnership between marketing personnel and the IT staff who manage your housefile.

Copywriting Web Exclusive: A Best Practices Checklist for Web Copywriting

Copy on your site shouldn’t be written by a programmer, designer or an assistant — it should be written by a direct marketing-oriented copywriter. You need great selling copy as well as content. But effective use of copy isn’t limited to who writes it. Consider some other key points: • Avoid Flash intros. They can chase potential customers away so fast it will make your head spin. Use language to woo customers to your site. Once they’re already engaged with you, you can offer them the option of viewing streaming video to impress them further. But never force them to do it. • Use keyword analysis

Copywriting: Make Your Site Search-friendly

You’ve hired a terrific agency to design your Web site. You have competent programmers putting it together so it’s fast, clean and bug-free. You’ve registered your site into every search engine known to mankind (to date). But nobody’s finding you, and visits are light and non-productive. What could be wrong? You may be suffering from the “My creative’s all wrong for my search engine” blues. And you’re not alone. If your site was developed more than two years ago, it’s probably not up to speed on how to be attractive to today’s crawlers. In this, my first column for Catalog Success, I won’t cover

Creative Cut: Classic Designs Keeps it Classy

When I picked up this catalog, I was immediately impressed by the clean and consistent design. It has structure without seeming stuffy, and features tons of information that’s easy to read and understand. Oh, and did I mention the gorgeous, rich products? Yes, this is a good catalog — handsome and well put together. It’s instructional without being cold. It’s full of information and products, without real clutter. I concluded rather quickly that this fine catalog could be used in design schools as an example of a hard-working catalog that doesn’t lose its beauty. Positives, Improvements Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Starting with the cover:


1. Target insert programs to your audience. Anita Priest, a supervisor at uniform merchant UniFirst Corp., cautions other catalogers that the insert media/miniature catalog program you select should be geared specifically to your target audience. 2. Check the calendar. UniFirst doesn’t insert miniature catalogs in December, because, “Customers are overloaded with other media and insertions at that time of year,” Priest says. 3. Add editorial to give the miniature longer shelf-life. Motherwear International, which mailed its first miniature catalog last year, included both editorial content and product offerings. Among some of the non-selling features was a breast-feeding guide. 4. Try versions. Motherwear created two

Four Tips from Daring Entrepreneur Eric States, Owner of After 5 and Surf to Summit

As a small cataloger on the rise, Eric States, owner of the After 5 and Surf to Summit catalogs, offers four tips, trips, tricks and blunders to share with fellow rising marketers: 1. “My first catalog cost me $80,000 to put it out there,” he recalls. “It was full of mistakes. A small trial, when you’re trying to figure things out, is important. Each book, you learn something. That’s your Ouija board.” Start small and test. “Put great emphasis on working with the co-op databases,” States says, “because their modeling capabilities are so strong. Once you have a feel of your merchandise, you need

Industry Eye: Shakeups and People on the Move

Shakeups at Three Big Multichannel Retailers Executive departures have resulted in major changes at three large multichannel retailers. Below are the maneuverings. J.C. Penney: Chairman/CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman has added the responsibilities of COO for this multichannel giant following the December termination of EVP/COO Catherine West. The Home Depot: Robert Nardelli has resigned as chairman/CEO of this multichannel home improvement products merchant. He’s been replaced by Vice Chairman and EVP Frank Blake. Additionally, CFO Carol Tome has added the title of EVP, corporate services; EVP for Home Depot Supply Joe DeAngelo has been named COO; and Brian Robbins has replaced John Campi as SVP, global sourcing and

Industry Eye: Tech Talk and Catalogers’ Updates

Tech Talk ◊ Find Which Parts of Your Site Don’t Work Customer experience management solutions provider Gomez has launched Actual Experience XF, an on-demand service designed to measure the online customer experience. The product takes into account performance aspects such as download times, abandonment rates and service consistency. Actual Experience XF also measures the differences in retail site performance caused by geographic location, or user-specific parameters, such as browser type, size of browser window, browser cache use, and first-time or repeat visitor status. The solution measures the effect each of these factors has on sales conversion or shopping cart abandonment and lets online merchants figure out

Insert Media: A Miniature Resurgence

Like other insert media programs, such as package stuffers and blow-ins, miniature catalogs have been around a long time. But in recent times, their popularity among catalogers appears to be on the rise. Catalogers as diverse in nature as nursing mother products marketer Motherwear International and B-to-B uniforms mailer UniFirst Corp. have been successful marketing through mini-format catalogs. What’s more, multi-title apparel and food cataloger Crosstown Traders plans to test its first miniature later this year. Defined primarily as having no more than 24 pages at various dimensions, miniatures can be a more efficient way to get your product offerings in front of

Inventory Management Web Exclusive: Inventory Management 101? Look Again

Unfortunately very few people come to your door with a degree in inventory management. So what expertise is required when selecting or training an inventory manager/director? If you’re fortunate to find someone who has direct inventory management experience, that’s obviously a start. The key is finding or grooming someone who has the following attributes: • good common sense • both good analytical and business economic sense • strong social or interaction skills • someone who can “hold their own” under pressure and hopefully have a good sense of humor and self. You may be asking, why a good sense of humor and self? That’s because an inventory manager

Inventory Management: An Integrated, Disciplined Process ...

We all recognize that inventory usually is one of our largest assets. Yet many of us don’t give it the importance or priority it deserves. Inventory management impacts almost every area of the company and can help contribute substantial hidden profits or losses depending on how it’s managed. The effect of poor inventory management often is hidden when business is good, and although quite evident when business is bad, businesses don’t have the resources at that point to address the issues. Unfortunately, this cycle is repeated far too often. Establishing a sound inventory management process within the ongoing company culture will cushion

Kayaking, Partying & Profits

There’s a very thin line that ties together the two catalogs produced out of 132 Robin Hill Road in Santa Barbara, Calif. Founded in 1994 as Surf to Summit, a B-to-B catalog of kayakin g equipment, the company in 2001 spun off After 5, a consumer catalog of quirky — often wacky — products for wine and martini parties. After 5 came to life after the company found that its customers were responding briskly to the cocktail party-related novelties that it first offered almost as an afterthought in Surf to Summit. But that’s where any similarities between the two catalogs end. Although the

Lists & Media

CONSUMER Design Toscano This file comprises 196,977 24-month buyers of replica European sculptures, architectural artifacts, hand-carved furniture, suits of armor, garden sculptures, jewelry, angel-themed items, framed art and other gifts from Design Toscano. The buyers in this catalog’s file have an average age of 40 and an average household income of $75,000. The file is selectable by product category purchased and amount of purchase. The base list price is $115/M. Belardi/Ostroy ALC, (212) 924-1300, www.belardiostroyalc.com. Epiclear Epiclear is an all-natural, acne treatment product. The list consists of 52,729 buyers. The average unit of sale is $40. The base list price is $105/M. Impulse Media, (203)

Profile of Success: A Victorious Resurgence

BACKGROUND: A former Marine, Dennis Garvey joined U.S. Cavalry in 2003 as part of a management team, created by the company’s then new ownership, to revive the business following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing in 2000. Since that time, backed by CEO Wayne Weisler, Garvey, who is the company’s COO, has led the company back, with average annual sales growth of about 30 percent since 2003. That growth has resulted in the construction of a new distribution center as well as the opening of a third retail store. BIGGEST INITIAL CHALLENGES: • Housefile deterioration: Although the company’s catalog production staff

Special Report: Catalog Marketing Action Plans for 2007

Just a month into the new year, catalogers have a mixed bag of enthusiasm. On the one hand, the economy appears strong and consumer spending is solid. On the other hand, there’s another postal rate increase going into effect during the first half of the year. Catalog Success caught up with several mailers and industry observers to give you an idea of which multichannel prospecting strategies may be best for you this year. Prospect With Caution No surprise: Feelings differ about how catalogers should prospect in 2007. “I’m feeling particularly bullish this year,” says Tim Kiss, director of enterprise direct marketing for The

STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE: Catalogers Sound Off About 2007

To get a sense of how 2007 could play out on catalogers’ pocketbooks and growth aspirations, Catalog Success asked a few catalogers what they expect for the coming year. Catalog Success: How will your implementation of multichannel marketing strategies change this year compared to last? Tim Kiss, director of enterprise direct marketing, HoneyBaked Ham: We’d like to test dual channel offers. Most of our catalog and Web customers buy HoneyBaked as a gift. We’ll test discounts for money off when you buy for your family at one of our stores and send HoneyBaked as a gift. Phil Minix, president, Astral Direct: Our multichannel strategies

Strategy: Maximizing Outside List Performance

Most catalogers can’t break even on the initial order when they mail to prospects. That’s often why start-up catalogs have difficulty surviving. Catalogers, new and old, depend on repeat purchases for profitability, i.e., turning one-time buyers into customers who purchase two or more times. This month, I’ll discuss ways to maximize outside list performance on the initial order to get closer to the incremental break-even point. You can maximize outside list performance by increasing response and/or your average order size (AOS). I prefer to focus on improving the response rate because it yields a greater number of new buyers, thus growing your 12-month

The Editor’s Take: A Lesson from the Trenches

In the 10 months I’ve been with Catalog Success, I’ve made it my business to ensure that virtually every article in this magazine, on our Web site, and in our weekly e-newsletter is consistent with our name: It’s all about success in the catalog/multichannel business and how to get there. Same goes for “your partner in multichannel commerce,” our wonderful tagline I wish I could claim to have coined myself (but, my predecessors did, darnit). Bottom line: We want to help you make money by showing and telling you how successful companies and people do it. In this issue, however, for at least one story

Valuations & Acquisitions: What Acquisition Due Diligence Reviews Can Teach You

As competition among acquirers of catalog companies has increased and multiples have grown, these buyers have become more sophisticated in their acquisition due diligence reviews (DDRs). “Multiple” refers to the multiplying amount applied to the latest 12 months of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), to equal the final valuation. And this especially is true for equity house investors, all of whom have extensive fiduciary responsibilities to their sources of capital, which often are insurance companies, pension plans, banks and other institutions. In fact, even most large direct marketers don’t acquire catalogers without similar intensive DDRs. DDRs help as you do your circ

Web Copywriting: A Best Practices Checklist

Copy on your site shouldn’t be written by a programmer, designer or an assistant — it should be written by a direct marketing-oriented copywriter. You need great selling copy as well as content. But effective use of copy isn’t limited to who writes it. Consider some other key points: • Avoid Flash intros. They can chase potential customers away so fast it will make your head spin. Use language to woo customers to your site. Once they’re already engaged with you, you can offer them the option of viewing streaming video to impress them further. But never force them to do it. • Use keyword analysis