October 2006 Issue


A Chat With Justin Rashid, founder and president, American Spoon Foods

© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, October 2006 Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? Justin Rashid: 1983. I started as a wild-food forager and purveyor. I grew up in the food business. I was supplying chefs, and one the chefs I supplied was a New York-based chef. He and I partnered to make the best fruit preserves in America. He gave me a recipe and I found the fruit. And we were young and dumb and we started a company when we were in our late 20s. We incorporated in 1982. The catalog got started when the foods we made

About AmeriMark Direct

Year founded: 1969 Headquarters: Cleveland Merchandise: women’s apparel, shoes, beauty products, health products, jewelry and accessories Catalogs: Anthony Richards, Complements by Anthony Richards, Essentials by Anthony Richards, Windsor Collection, Beauty Boutique, Healthy Living, Time for Me Membership plans (125,000 members): Passport to Savings, Passport to Health, ID Sentinel Alert Price point range: $2 to $999 Average order size: $51 Annual circulation: 120 million Mailings per year: 75 to 80 # of SKUs: more than 100,000 # of employees: 600 Customer demographics: primarily female, 60 years and older, middle to low income; Time for Me target audience is younger, more upscale women Sales per channel:

AmeriMark Direct Timeline

1969: Avvy Katz founds the Anthony Richards women’s apparel catalog. 1995: After acquiring beauty products catalog Beauty Boutique and jewelry catalog Windsor Collection in the intervening years, Katz starts health products catalog Healthy Living. 1998: Katz and Gary Giesler, former executive vice president at Crosstown Traders (then known as Arizona Mail Order), co-launch a discount membership buying club for Katz’s customers. The club offers discounts on merchandise, hotels and services for an annual fee. On April 1, Giesler and his partners purchase Katz’s company, then known as TransAmerica Holdings. Several days later, a fire in a warehouse destroys most of the company’s apparel merchandise.

B-to-B Cataloging: Boost Response With Nontraditional List Selects

In business-to-business (B-to-B), several key factors aside from traditional recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) values could play a significant role in the list selection process for both your prospect files and housefile. Taking the time to identify these factors can pay huge dividends in your response rates. RFM should continue to play the paramount role in your list selections, but consider these additional house and prospecting list strategies that will help you in your marketing efforts. Heed the X-factor An X-factor is any variable that identifies a file segment not defined by RFM value criteria. X-factors don’t replace RFM; they supplement it. Significant portions of many

Cataloger Spotlight: Modern Postcard

In the rapidly evolving world of multichannel marketing, the print catalog’s role isn’t only changing on the consumer side. Consider how business postcard printer Modern Postcard, which for years provided its postcards to many business-to-business (B-to-B) marketers, has evolved into a cataloger: In mid-September, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based Modern Postcard rolled out a 24-page, 10.375-inch-by-8-inch B-to-B catalog that mailed to about 200,000 prospects (80 percent) and existing customers (20 percent). “We felt that our product and service offerings were amenable to the catalog channel, and we saw the creation of a catalog as a unique means for us to differentiate ourselves, elevate our brand and continue

Classic Merchandise Begs For Better Catalog Effort

Florentine Craftsmen Inc. catalog’s greatest strength is its extraordinary merchandise. Every piece in the book looks like it could have graced one of the Newport mansions or been seen in some Hollywood movie with Greta Garbo whispering into Clark Gable’s ear. Words such as elegant, classic, timeless, artisan, gilded-age, wealthy and beautiful best describe the book’s goods. I can’t say the same about the current catalog, however, as it doesn’t live up to the standard of the merchandise it sells. The catalog has the classic look of a B-to-B company that’s been selling the same merchandise for years, but hasn’t allocated enough time, attention or

Contact Centers: Calibrate! Calibrate! Calibrate!

Tune up your contact center. A contact center without calibration is like a car without a tune-up: The car still runs, but not at peak performance. Calibrations are an opportunity to gather your team, tune in to your customers’ experience, and make sure everyone shares the same expectations of your representatives. Calibrations are a contact center’s tune-up. Calibration sessions ensure your team connects the vision with the reality. While quality assurance should lead the discussions, all frontline supervisors, floor leads and representatives should be included. Input from reps is critical, since they can help contact center managers understand why boardroom strategies fall short when implemented.

Contributions to Profit: Plan For 2007 and Rank Your Customers, Prospects

This is the first of a three-part series. The other two installments will appear in November and December 2006 issues. As you develop your marketing plans for the coming year, look at all of the different prospect and customer groups, and build a plan for each group. There are five different types of prospects and customer groups: advocates, buyers, triers, prospects and suspects, based on a behavioral perspective. In the first part of this series, I’ll define these groups; in the other installments, I’ll offer some actionable plans to help you increase your profits next year. 1. Advocates. These are the

Database Management: Get to Know Your Customers Even Better

Best-practices database content lays a foundation for sophisticated CRM. In an ideal world, every cataloger would have access to a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) system, including Web-enabled business intelligence, campaign management and customer touch point capabilities. Every organization would enjoy the continuous, widespread internal dissemination of complete, accurate and compelling data. All data miners and marketers, and all employees interacting with customers, would have instant access to all the data required for them to excel at their jobs. In such a world, smaller catalogers would operate with the same technological advantages as larger ones. Unfortunately, many catalogers don’t have the budget to invest

E-commerce Insights: Add the Fifth ‘P’ of Marketing

Turbocharge your cart with ‘payments.” In e-commerce, add a fifth “P” to the traditional four Ps of marketing — product, pricing, promotion and placement: payments. Catalogers can see real incremental sales improvement by offering customers and prospects additional ways to pay. I’ve devoted this article to review PayPal, Bill Me Later and Google Checkout. Adding some or all of these payment methods to your site can significantly lift Web sales. A 2004 CyberSource study shows that merchants offering four payment options, such as credit cards, gift certificates, e-checks and PayPal, get 20 percent higher conversion than those offering just credit cards.

Editor’s Take: New Look, Great New Stuff

As we roll through the mid-2000s, one could easily transform the saying, “what’s old is new again,” to “what’s new is old already.” Rapidly evolving technology is changing American business faster than ever, and it’s swiftly altering the catalog/multichannel retail business. On our end, we’ve embraced change in this issue, our first full-fledged redesign in five years. Along with our new, eye-pleasing look, you’ll see some new columns and departments, such as Association for Postal Commerce President Gene Del Polito writing the new Understanding Postal column and catalog acquisitions expert Larry West heading the new Acquisitions & Valuations column. Watch for additional expert columnists

Get Creative As You Prospect

Take the road less traveled. Cataloging, by its very nature implies acquiring customers via renting lists. For some, that’s prospecting in a nutshell. But most catalogers eventually go beyond lists as a means to not only grow the business, but also to combat limited list universes, or as part of an overall expansion into multichannel marketing. But which directions make sense for your business? There are so many traditional choices, such as co-op databases, inserts, space ads, solo mailings, television or radio advertising. Compound that dilemma with the influx of newer online methods, such as paid search, Amazon.com, eBay and

Help Your Customers Find You in Cyberspace

9 ways to get your site search-ready for the holidays. The clock is ticking. Holiday shopping season is just around the corner. More customers will turn to your Web site than ever before. That means it’s time to tune it up for maximum search engine visibility. Here are nine traffic-building tips that’ll make your site sing “Happy Holidays” long after the season is done. 1. Link Building Links are the currency of search engines. Improving the quantity and quality of your inbound links will pay dividends. Add a handful of links from high-PageRank, relevant sites and you’ll see an impact within weeks. (PageRank

Hot Lists

CONSUMER Motley Fool Champion Funds The Motley Fool Champion Funds file is comprised of 5,336 investors looking for information and guidance on mutual fund investing. They’ve paid an annual average of $149 to read up on building long-term wealth. The base list price is $200/M. MetaResponse Group, (954) 360-0644, www.metaresponse.com. KooKoo Bear Kids KooKoo Bear Kids offers its 26,500 12-month buyers a fanciful assortment of children’s furniture, bedding and accessories designed as if from a child’s point of view. These catalog buyers primarily are women. They have an average age of 37 and an average household income of $175,000. The base

Industry Eye: Catalogers’ Updates & People on the Move

Catalogers’ Updates Acquisitions • ARAMARK, parent company of safety equipment and apparel catalog Galls, was acquired in August by an investor group led by ARAMARK CEO Joseph Neubauer. The deal, valued at $8.3 billion, is expected to close in late 2006 or early 2007. • Multititle cataloger Swiss Colony in August acquired Ashro Lifestyles, an apparel and accessories catalog catering to African American women. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. • Multititle cataloger Spiegel Brands acquired in September Carabella Corp., parent company of swimsuit and evening wear catalogs Carabella and A.B. Lambdin. The acquisition adds the two brands to the growing number of catalog titles owned by

Industry Eye: Seventeen Catalogs Capture Gold Ink Awards

Recognizing excellence in printing quality, Gold Ink Awards were handed out in August to 17 business and consumer catalogs. This year’s catalog winners joined more than 1,500 entrants in competing for the 19th annual awards in more than 40 printing categories. Aside from catalogs, these include hardcover and softcover books, magazines, direct mail, annual reports, brochures and point-of-purchase displays. Entries are judged on the quality of print production, paper choice, binding, finishing and other measures. The year’s winners “often push the limits of what can be achieved using the materials, treatments and available technologies,” says Noelle Skodzinski, editor in chief of the Publishing Media

Industry Eye: Tech Talk & Letteers to the Editor

Tech Talk • Maximize Search Visibility E-commerce technology provider MarketLive has released MarketLive 5.2, an upgrade to its e-commerce platform. The upgrade features the ability to create spider-friendly URLs, overcoming obstacles such as query strings, database characters and session IDs to enable every page on a Web site to be fully indexed by search engines. Keyword-relevant terms are embedded in the URLs to improve search rankings. Other features include the ability to customize the URL, page title and metadata configurations for each page of the site, and automatically create keyword-rich alternate descriptions for images. For more, visit www.marketlive.com. • Print Labels Faster Office products manufacturer Seiko

Inspire Customers to Think Multichannel

Connect the dots. All good catalog marketers know their customers’ lifetime value. And those who are savvy have a handle on their customers’ spending patterns by channel. In today’s multichannel environment, the winners are those who synchronize their online and offline efforts. There are many studies showing that customers who interact with a cataloger in more than one channel spend dramatically more than a single-channel customer. J.C. Penney was one of the first to come to this realization. A study the multichannel retail giant conducted with Abacus on annual spending showed: • Internet-only shoppers spent —$151. • Catalog-only shoppers spent —$201. • Retail-only shoppers spent

Media Options: A checklist of nontraditional media options for prospecting:

Web: search, paid, organic • E-mail lists (primarily available in B-to-B; few usable consumer e-mail lists are available) • Web ads (individual opportunities, often not scalable) • Affiliate programs • Price comparison search engines Offline media: electronic • DRTV (large volumes when it works) • Radio and TV spots • Outbound telemarketing (B-to-B still most viable) Offline media: print • Direct mail: Solo packages (need a “hero” product) Self-mailers and postcards (lead generation, especially useful for B-to-B) • Insert media: Package, targeted Statement, mass distribution Co-op media, mass distribution Card packs, lead generation • Space ads for lead generation

Profile of Success: The Fruits of Wild Labor

In-depth product knowledge coupled with symbiotic supplier relationships have kept Justin Rashid at the top of his game. Background: Justin Rashid grew up in the food business; his father and uncle owned several grocery stores in Detroit. His mother, whom he describes as an Indiana farm girl, loved to garden and pick wild berries. Equally influenced by both, Rashid began foraging for and selling wild foods, such as berries and mushrooms, to upscale restaurants. A partnership with one chef in a New York-based restaurant led him to develop a unique preserved fruit recipe he began selling in retail stores in 1982. The

Sonlight Curriculum Makes the Grade

Sonlight Curriculum catalog’s tagline says “lifestyle” to me: “literature-rich homeschooling — education beyond textbooks.” Lifestyle in the true sense of the word: not merely aspirational as many catalogs purport to be. Homeschooling is, indeed, a lifestyle, and the people behind the Sonlight Curriculum catalog “get it” because they live it. This is one of the subjects that earns Sonlight Curriculum a place on the honor roll. Sonlight Curriculum seems called to a higher mission. Homeschooling is hard work, and clearly isn’t for everyone. This catalog, in addition to being a vehicle to sell the educational resources, is much more. As a true magalog, it

Steady As She Goes

AmeriMark Direct relies on a profitable strategy of adhering to direct marketing disciplines, internal modeling and promotional prospecting. If anything has characterized multi-title apparel, beauty products and accessories cataloger AmeriMark Direct since Gary Giesler and his partners purchased the company in 1998, it’s steady growth fueled by a disciplined approach to meeting customers’ needs. Under the current ownership (eight-plus years), sales have grown 300 percent, and the Cleveland-based company has launched three catalogs and three Web sites. What’s more, a credit program, three membership plans and a customer rewards program have all combined to strengthen AmeriMark’s bond with its customers. No stranger to cataloging,

Strategy: A Primer in the Basics of Catalog Circulation

A circulation strategy accounts for up to 70 percent of any mailing’s success. No doubt, we can all use a refresher when it comes to circulation planning and execution based on the importance of getting it right. So, this month, I felt it appropriate to review the basics and factors that are critical to any mailing campaign’s success. Consider the following key elements: housefile selections, prospecting and plan execution. Housefile Selections Balance mailings to your housefile with the desired level of prospecting. About half of your circulation should be going to your housefile. Most catalogers use some form of recency, frequency, monetary

The Catalog Doctor: Profit Prescriptions for Product Density

One of the most-asked questions I get is, “What product density is right for my catalog?” There are two main drivers to finding your appropriate product density (or the average number of products per page): your brand and your square inch sales report. Brand. In general — but not in every case — the more upscale the brand, the lower the product density; the more downscale the brand, the higher the product density. So if you’re starting a new catalog and have no idea what density to use, look at competitive catalogs (or noncompetitors who sell to your audience), and take your cue

Understanding Postal: Beyond Rising Postal Rates

Prepare for key classification changes next year. This is a column for those who understand that they’re in the direct mail business. Believe it or not, many catalog marketers refuse to acknowledge this fact, even though some 30 percent to 40 percent of their operating costs come from mail-related marketing and fulfillment expenses. Those in the direct mail business know all too well that postal rate cases usually are harbingers of rising postal costs. They also know that by the time higher rates are put into effect, they must have a plan in place to accommodate the rate and operational changes every rate case brings. As you