Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.

First, some comments on reader comments from last week’s blog:

To Lauren and Michelle: You made some excellent points on the difficulties of working within an organization whose top managers aren’t direct marketers. No doubt, retailing and direct marketing are very different disciplines. It’s analogous to being a surgeon: you can be a great heart surgeon, but before you attempt brain surgery, you better get some training.

To Robespierre: Although I’m not a merchandise person, I’ll address some merchandise issues in future postings.

As for this week’s blog, I divide catalog marketing into three main arenas: product, marketing and operations. All require very different skills.

In my

How the company began: A little more than a century ago, Brent Heath’s ancestors began a daffodil farm in a small Virginia town. Today, the farm is a rapidly growing company that sells flower bulbs and related merchandise and is run by Brent and his wife, Becky. “I grew up in a business that I enjoyed, but didn’t like the dirty work,” Brent admits. Rather, he says he prefers teaching and sharing information. Catalog: Brent and Becky’s Bulbs has produced a full-color catalog for just two years. Previously, the catalog was merely a price list with some product sketches. Now it contains photographs and

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