July 2007 Issue


10 More Key Steps to On-Time/On-Budget Catalog Production

In my print story, I outlined for you what I believe to be the 17 most important and crucial steps in the catalog production process. But there are 10 others that also are worth seriously considering. 1. Define your editorial position and the entire tone of your catalog copy by your brand strategy. If it’s low price, you’ll be screaming sale or value at every opportunity; but if it’s quality, you’ll focus on product benefits and your tone will be more authoritative and/or educational. 2. Prepare product information sheets for all new products. These sheets will be the bible used by copy and

27 Steps to Efficient Catalog Productions

This Web-only exclusive offers 27 quick steps in the catalog production process worth considering. 1. Determine unique selling proposition. 2. Define editorial position. 3. Determine catalog look. 4. Complete square-inch analysis. 5. Preliminarily review continuation product. 6. Preliminarily review new products. 7. Prepare product information sheets. 8. Review pick-up copy and presentation. 9. Paginate and allocate space. 10. Finalize merchandise selection. 11. Present initial design concepts. 12. Layout catalog, first draft. 13. Design order form. 14. Revise layouts, second draft. 15. Write manuscript copy. 16. Plan the photo shoot. 17. Shoot new photography. 18. Revise manuscript copy. 19. Finalize pricing, sizing, etc. 20. Finalize photo picks. 21. Prepare composed pages, first draft. 22. Proof loose color. 23. Revise composed pages, second draft. 24. Finalize composed pages. 25. Create

A Chat with July’s Profile, Howard Flax, CEO, FLAX art & design

© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, July 2007 Interview by Gail Kalinoski Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? Howard Flax: We mailed our first catalog in 1984 to a file of 10,000 names. (Editor’s Note: The firm was started by Howard Flax’s grandfather, Herman Flax, who opened an art supplies store in San Francisco in 1938. Herman’s brothers also ran art supplies store in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Other family members later started stores in Phoenix, Orlando and Atlanta. They are all independently owned and the San Francisco store is the only one with a catalog. After

Best Ways to Review Your Ad Words

After considering visitors’ words, I visit The Webmaster Central Page Analysis tab to review my words. Page Analysis reveals the key phrases Google believes characterize your content. For this characterization, it studies the words on your site and the words in external links pointing into your site (“anchor text”). For example, suppose you’re a widget cataloger who can’t figure out why Google doesn’t display your site for “widget” searches. The Webmaster Central Page Analysis tab can help you see your site as Google does — the first step to making improvements. Page Analysis shows that my site scores highly for “rimmkaufman” and “rimm-kaufman”

Catalog Doctor: Analyze Digests and Slim Jims

Patient: Doc, this postage increase worries me. Should I switch from a standard-size catalog to a digest or slim jim? How can I switch without making my business sick? Catalog Doctor: A digest or slim jim can produce a strong, healthy business. The smaller size often evokes a more personal, “company-that-cares” feel. When combined with upscale design and photography, it also evokes quality and “best of class.” Patient: How can I tell if a digest or slim jim is right for me? And how do I avoid the potential pitfalls? Catalog Doctor: A digest or slim jim might work for you if you fall under one

Catalog Production: Sorting Out a Complex Process

Catalog design and production today are faster than ever, but the process still can be daunting. The steps outlined here begin with branding considerations and end with catalog printing. Some firms add interim proofing steps that may or may not improve the catalog, but certainly do add to the expense. For that reason, consider these to be the optimum number of steps needed to efficiently organize the production process to create a catalog on time and on budget. (In addition to the 17 outlined below, you’ll find 10 more key steps online, if you follow the story to the Web at end of

Cataloger Spotlight: How My Twinn Uses Tiered Pricing to Encourage Early Holiday Doll Shoppers

My Twinn creates personalized, handcrafted dolls that lend themselves to gift-giving. So not surprisingly, the holiday season is its busiest and most lucrative time of the year. The company faces a time crunch, though, because its artisans use customer photos and information submitted by buyers to make doll heads that look like the little girls receiving them. “We make [the doll heads] one at a time. They’re not pre-ordered or mass-produced,” ex-plains My Twinn Vice President Craig Currie. So, it’s crucial for My Twinn to get the lion’s share of its holiday season orders early. To encourage customers to order earlier, it offers an incentive —

Creative Cut: Goodson Builds on Lengthy History

I’m a virgin in the engine-building world — intimidated by all things technical and motorized. I’m definitely not one of Goodson’s customers. Lucky for Goodson, a cataloger that specializes in tools and supplies for engine builders, I do know a bit about branding, marketing communications and best practices for catalog success and customer satisfaction, and it’s apparent to me that Goodson does all of this. Goodson owner Scott Biesanz is certainly interested in building greatness that lasts. His opening letter states: “Some companies have faded, others have service problems and still others have gone out of business entirely. But here at Goodson, we’re going strong.

E-commerce Insights: The (Free) Benefits of Google’s Webmaster Central

If you’re not using Google’s Webmaster Central, you should start. Google Webmaster Central is a great bundle of free Google tools to help you understand how Google indexes your site. It’s essential to ranking well in Google’s natural rankings. And as a bonus of sorts, by fixing problems revealed by Webmaster Central, you often can improve your positioning on secondary engines, too. For starters, you need a Google account. Go to: https://www.google.com/accounts/newaccount. Next, go to (and bookmark) the Google Webmaster Central homepage: www.google.com/webmasters. The Help Center, blog and forums are worth monitoring. These resources provide valuable advice from Google and outsiders for successful

E-mail Applied: Effective E-mails That Sell

E-mail is an important part of any marketing program worth its salt. But most aren’t taking full advantage, by overlooking important advancements that can make a huge difference — not only to the program, but to your bottom line. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your e-mail program. It boils down to four simple rules. I’ve chosen some examples that demonstrate how to fine-tune your e-mail program and sell effectively. 1. Grab recipients’ attention — and get them to open your e-mail. Consumers’ prior experience with you and their affinity to your brand certainly are factors in motivating them to open

E-mail: The Right E-tools for the Job

While the sophistication of high-end e-mail marketing tools can be a bit daunting, virtually any cataloger can find an e-mail marketing package that will increase sales without breaking the bank. “Although it is often taken for granted, the power of e-mail derives from its ubiquity,” says David Hallerman, a senior analyst at market research firm eMarketer and author of “E-Mail and Word-of-Mouth: Connecting With Your Best Customers.” He notes that about 90 percent of U.S. Internet users are regular e-mail users, “clearly an audience that has attained critical mass. Although spam makes it harder to reach customers’ inboxes, e-mail’s personal impact is unmatched

Focus On: Catalog/Multichannel Technology

This month, we bring you a special report examining what Web 2.0 means to you and how you can make the most of it, along with the latest and most beneficial tools for effective e-mail marketing. In this Special Report: Web 2.0: What it Means to You by John Deneen E-mail: The Right E-tools for the Job by Joe Dysart SEO in the World of Web 2.0 by Stephan Spencer

Four Reasons to Use Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are becoming an increasingly common way to use the online community aspect of the Internet to help convert visitors to buyers. Amazon.com, CompUSA and other sites have been on record as saying customer reviews do lead to increased conversions. Here are four things you’ll want to consider: 1. Allow negative reviews? Absolutely. Including negative as well as positive reviews on your Web site makes you appear trustworthy. 2. Are they important? Heck, yeah. Ninety-two per-cent of online customers rated “customer reviews” as extremely or very helpful (the top-rated Web site feature) in a 2006 survey conducted by J.C. Williams/the e-tailing group. 3. Must they constantly

Industry Eye: Catalogers’ Updates & Financial Briefs

Catalogers’ Updates CDW Corp.: The multichannel computer marketer in May was sold to private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners for $7.3 billion. Upon completion of the deal, CDW shareholders will receive $87.75 in cash for each share of common stock. McFeely’s Square Drive Screws: W.W. Grainger’s Lab Safety Supply subsidiary in early June said it had acquired all of the assets of McFeely’s Square Drive Screws, a B-to-B cataloger of specialty fasteners, hardware and tools for the professional woodworking industry. McFeely’s will be marketed as an independent brand by Lab Safety. Casual Male: LivingXL is the name of a new catalog launched in May by Casual

Inventory Management: Stay On Top of the Metrics

Merchandise analysis is an ongoing process. Although most companies should schedule formal reviews at the end of each season, the key to profitability is staying on top of the metrics that drive any multichannel business. Postmortems, as many of these reviews have been labeled, have a negative connotation in many marketers’ minds, and as a result, often are sidestepped. I’ve found that changing them to “preseason kick off” reviews promotes an offensive approach to profitability that can be maintained throughout the season. Of course, each business can apply its own weight to the measures to make final decisions. As multichannel merchants say, “It’s all about

Profile: All in the Family

BACKGROUND: Howard Flax, CEO of FLAX art & design, comes from a long line of art supplies dealers, stretching all the way back to 1938. The first Flax art supplies business was a store in San Francisco founded by Herman Flax, Howard’s grandfather. Other family members followed suit, with stores popping up from New York to Phoenix to Los Angeles. After Herman passed away, his sons Philip and Jerry ran the business. Now, Philip is the chairman, and his sons Howard and Craig, vice president of marketing, run the only Flax store that boasts a catalog. Here, third-generation Flax businessman, Howard Flax,

SEO in the World of Web 2.0

Wouldn’t it be great if all the whiz-bang Web 2.0 interactive elements like Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), widgets, Flash, RSS feeds, podcasts, video blogs and so forth were all search engine optimized? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, many of these technologies are inherently unfriendly to search engine spiders. So, if you intend to harness Web 2.0 technologies for increased conversion, improved usability and greater customer engagement, you’d better read on or you’ll end up missing the boat when it comes to better search engine rankings. The discipline of search engine optimization (SEO) is evolving to better meet the challenges presented by a

State of the Co-ops ’07

With the postal rate increase in effect and the marketplace demonstrating fierce competition, catalogers are seeking more efficient ways to handle the database information they accumulate. Certainly, there’s no shortage of companies that offer to streamline the process, but how do mailers know which of them is best for their needs? Here (in alphabetical order) is what the nation’s eight cooperative database firms are doing this year to set themselves apart. Abacus Alliance Acquired by marketing technology firm Epsilon earlier this year, Abacus recently launched its next generation solution, Abacus ONE, based on the company’s current proven modeling system. “We have taken what was

Strategy: The Importance of Source Code Tracking and Matchbacks

Prior to e-commerce sales on the Internet, a catalog typically could trace 80 percent of its orders and revenue to a specific source or key code. Catalogers didn’t worry about the remaining 20 percent. They’d simply allocate it proportionally across all source codes. Life was simple in those days! Today, tracing orders to a specific code is much more difficult and complex. That’s why the use of matchbacks has become a way a life for catalogers. This month, I’ll focus on the importance of tracing to a specific source code through a matchback. Source Codes Demystified A source code is simply an identifier

The Editor’s Take: Weighing in on the New Catalog Group

For years, I’ve tried hard to appreciate what the Direct Marketing Association and the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) have stood for and done for catalogers. But from a cataloger’s perspective, both groups always struck me as a little flawed. In some respects, they resemble this country’s government. What’s good for New Yorkers isn’t necessarily the right thing for South Dakotans or even Californians. Likewise, what’s good for Standard letter mailers isn’t always the right thing for catalogers — who account for about 75 percent of Standard mail flats — especially when it comes to setting postal rates. Both trade groups have always had sharp

Web 2.0: What it Means to You

If you’re confused about what exactly Web 2.0 is, you’re in good company. This often-repeated buzzword has many Web site owners — not just catalogers — scratching their heads and wondering what the heck Web 2.0 is and whether their sites need it. Fear not. Web 2.0 actually is a broad term, closer to a concept encompassing a whole cluster of new tools and techniques used on Web sites. You didn’t see them three to five years ago. It’s not a software package you can buy from Microsoft or build yourself, but rather a catchphrase that denotes your Web site is keeping current with the