Plan Your Year-End Promotions Right Now
August 26, 2008

Many B-to-B marketers have product lines that lend themselves to end-of-year and beginning-of-year promotions. Those should be planned now! Of course, if you sell seasonal products, such as business holiday greeting cards or tax forms, your fourth quarter business is especially important. Most B-to-B marketers still see sales surges at year’s end due to final spending of companies’ yearly budgets.
Your call-center reps may need additional selling tools and promotions at this time of year to take advantage of customers’ seasonal spending propensities. The key driver is your customers’ need to spend all of their annual budgets so they can justify asking for larger

Are Your Call-Center Reps Performing?
August 19, 2008

When times are tough, B-to-B marketers need to stay close to their customers via their call-center reps. On the front lines, reps hear customer objections, concerns and moods. Marketers will want to stay informed to develop sales tactics and offers that will incentivize that next purchase. As you stay close to your reps, you’ll inevitably discover that some are getting better results than others. Why?
Here are some common metrics you can use to evaluate your inbound call-center reps.
1. Paid time, time ready to receive calls and time on the phone. You’ll be surprised at how much of the paid time gets eaten

How to Turn Around Declining Sales
August 5, 2008

In this economy, no one should be surprised to see sales slump. The question is, what can you do?
First, understand why sales are down. Just like a boat that’s filling with water, the leak could be anywhere! Here are some areas to examine as you diagnose the problem.
* Circulation quantities — have you cut back?
* Response rates and orders — have they fallen across the board or just in some segments?
* Average order value — are you getting the same number of orders, but customers are spending less per order? If so, try offering a benefit if customers place an

Key Trends From the MeritDirect Co-op
July 22, 2008

Recently I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at the MeritDirect Co-op — the annual gathering of some 400 B-to-B catalog marketers in White Plains, N.Y. As usual, it was a curious and enthusiastic group. I wanted to share my take on the mood of such a group and a couple of important trends I see developing in B-to-B direct marketing today. Here’s a sampling of what I gleaned from the three-day event.
* Cost increases and the slumping economy are weighing heavily on B-to-B marketers’ minds. Their margins and profits are being squeezed.
* Most agree the job of marketing

Beauty is Only Search Deep
May 13, 2008

If your Web site doesn’t rank in search, then it really doesn’t matter how it looks. But once it does rank, how good it looks and converts visitors to buyers is critical to acquiring new customers online.
These days, with constantly rising postage rates and mailing costs, finding new customers online is mandatory. It’s no longer a “nice to have” option. Smart online marketers realize their Web site’s search engine optimization performance is key. They also know it’s not just about how your site looks and performs, but also how your site ranks in Google and other leading search engines. It’s all about potential

B-to-B SEM: How Are You Really Performing?
April 29, 2008

When I talk to catalogers these days, I often ask about their online acquisition performance. Inevitably, they respond by telling me about the percentage of their total orders they’re now taking online and how efficient that is. (If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I believe taking orders online, while efficient, has some downsides.) After I listen politely for a moment or two, I probe a little deeper by acknowledging their online order performance and restating my question. “Yes, but how many new customers are you finding online? New customers that weren’t driven there by a catalog mailing or some other offline

Operational E-Mail: Discover True One-to-One Communication
February 19, 2008

With the sophistication of Web 2.0 generation e-commerce systems, I’m seeing more and more creative uses of e-mail. I’m thinking about individual, tailored e-mails generated by your e-commerce or order-management system rather than the bulk e-mails sent out as part of marketing campaigns. They’re sometimes called “operational e-mails.”
You never have a better time to cement your relationship with a customer, and generate an additional sale, than when you have a relevant e-mail (or phone call) that results from a customer action. Here are some examples … and some ideas.
* Order confirmation e-mails. Recognize first-time buyers and returning customers, and try a “15-minute

Test Private Customer Sales
December 18, 2007

Like you, I receive many mail offers that just don’t grab my attention. If it looks like a “mass mailing,” I don’t perceive it to be relevant. In this age of variable printing and personalization, there’s really no excuse not to be testing various personalized offers. One such proven offer is the private customer sale.
This involves digging into your customer file to find what products your customers have bought in the recent past, or what products they’re likely to buy based on past buying behavior. With this information, you’re able to send a personally addressed mail piece (letter, postcard, catalog, etc.) offering

How to Avoid the Dreaded ‘Delete’ Key
December 4, 2007

Each morning as I open my e-mail, I sit with my index finger perched on the delete key. I suspect I’m like many others. Today’s e-mail environment has trained us all to be “vicious deleting machines.” We scan every sender and subject line looking for someone we recognize or something of value, and if we don’t find it ... zap, it’s gone. How long do we take to scan and delete what we don’t recognize? I take about one second, maybe less. It helps that I get lots of training each morning — I’m relentless. The volume of unwanted e-mails is now so high

Are You Asking for a Referral When Taking an Online Order?
November 6, 2007

When we make really good offers to customers or prospects and they buy, that’s the moment to ask for a referral. After all, they want their friends and business associates to get the same great offer they just got, right? Below is an example from, which has a great idea and offer. Please scroll down, click on the postage-stamp-size image and note how the marketer makes it so easy for me to give it a referral e-mail address or two. The only thing that’s missing is the ability for responders to upload their personal distribution list.
The better you make your