Stephen R. Lett

Steve Lett graduated from Indiana University in 1970 and immediately began his 50-year career in Direct Marketing; mainly catalogs.

Steve spent the first 25 years of his career in executive level positions at both consumer and business-to-business companies. The next 25 years have been with Lett Direct, Inc., the company Steve founded in early 1995. Lett Direct, Inc., is a catalog and internet consulting firm specializing in circulation planning, plan execution, analysis and digital marketing (Google Premier Partner).

Steve has served on the Ethics Committee of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and on a number of company boards, both public and private. He served on the Board of the ACMA.  He has been the subject of two Harvard Business School case studies.  He is the author of a book, Strategic Catalog Marketing. Steve is a past Chairman of both the Catalog Council and Business Mail Council of the DMA. He spent a few years teaching Direct Marketing at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

You can contact Steve at

In late November, we surveyed the All About ROI editorial board members and other marketing insiders to gauge their views on the year ahead. At press time on the eve of the 2009 holiday homestretch, with their hopes for a better sales outcome than 2008 looking modest at best, few saw an especially bright light shining by December. Instead, many settled in to make the appropriate adjustments for reduced demand.

One morning a few months ago, I experienced a true moment. I realized that, after spending the majority of my 25-plus-year career covering the catalog business, that business can no longer be treated as such. Today, it's really about selling and serving any way the consumer wants you to.

Catalog Success recently took two of its longest-standing columnists to task. Strategy scribe Stephen R. Lett and Catalog Doctor Susan J. McIntyre have spent the better part of their careers producing or helping clients produce print catalogs. But do catalogs have a future in this integrated selling environment?

I’m optimistic that 2009 will be a better year for multichannel merchants, even though the experts say our recovery will be gradual. There are bright spots within given merchandise categories, such as religious goods, pet supplies and hobbies — all of which are doing well — just to name a few.

Tired of reading about what a tough year it’s been for so many businesses across the board? Frustrated with your own results? Scared about the economy? Whether or not you’re struggling as much as others, here’s a little tonic: our annual best-of feature, in which we’ve pulled what we believe to be the 50 best and most implementable tips of the year from Catalog Success magazine as well as our weekly e-newsletter, Tactics & Tips. There’s nothing fancy here. Each paragraph is taken from a particular story that’s referenced, so you can turn or click back to reread the full story or act on

When I taught direct marketing at Indiana University, I told my students to write “merchandising” if they didn’t know the answer to a question so they could receive 50 percent credit. I wanted these second-year MBA students to know the importance of merchandising. But product selection and circulation determine the success of any catalog/Internet business. And knowing how many pages to circulate is my topic this month. Specifically, I’ll explore the following: • What basic criteria determine proper page count? • What are the economics of adding pages? • How can adding pages be a successful strategy in these difficult economic times?

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