Are Your Mailings Irrelevant or Just Plain Stale?
October 30, 2007

Lately I’ve noticed I’ve been getting repeat mailings from large B-to-B office suppliers — and they all look the same. It probably doesn’t help that Office Depot, Staples and OfficeMax have similar corporate colors. They all seem stuck in their “10 percent or $10 off” offer, or some version of it. To make matters even more boring, the mailings always seem to be in one of two or three standard formats. You know the ones: large postcards, #10 solo or folded flyer.
You look at them and say, “Oh, that again,” and toss it. It got me thinking about the opportunity we

Which Portion of Your E-commerce Marketing Efforts Should You Outsource?
October 23, 2007

I see a dilemma growing in our industry. It involves balancing which e-commerce functions should be kept in-house vs. those that should be outsourced.
Before we answer that question, a little historical perspective is in order. First, take note that five years ago, most of us thought e-commerce was a lot less complicated than it’s turned out to be. Right? That said, the next five years will bring increasing levels of complexity in e-commerce.
I also want to point out that most B-to-B companies I know have gone through several e-commerce employees/teams and/or organizational structures. As the function has evolved, we’ve struggled to

Beat or Meet Your Sales Forecasts by Year’s End, Part 3
October 9, 2007

One thing you can do to generate additional revenue between now and the end of the year is to make use of a postcard. We talked previously in this series about using postcards before and after a catalog drop to enhance your catalog’s offerings and increase revenue. We also talked about finding room in your mail schedule to drop an additional catalog.
Now, here’s another way to use a postcard.
Instead of an extra catalog, do a postcard mailing to select groups of customers. Determine what part of your customers and/or prospects would respond to a postcard. Consider mailing to older customers who

Six Low-cost ‘E-ways’ to Meet or Beat Your 2007 Plan By Year’s End
September 25, 2007

The last I checked our last reader poll asking catalogers whether their sales were meeting, beating or missing projections, it looked somewhat encouraging. When asked if at this point of the year multichannel marketers were on plan with original forecasts for the year, 59 percent of our readers said they were either on plan or ahead. Even better news showed that none of you were missing its numbers badly.
There are still 41 percent of you, however, who are slightly below plan, so let’s see what we can do to move those numbers up by the end of the year. Here are six tips

Don’t Overlook the B-to-B Market in Canada
September 25, 2007

Hailing from Toronto, I enjoy keeping a close eye on my homeland. Each summer I return for my annual family vacation. When I do, I always check the B-to-B direct marketing pulse of the country.
That said, I begin by asking you to look in your customer file to see how much business you’re doing in Canada. When you look, don’t forget also to look at Burlington, Vt., Buffalo, N.Y., and Bellingham, Wash., three border cities heavily influenced by Canadian purchases. (Many Canadian businesses have delivery/mail pick-up and drop-off services in those areas.)
In recent years, the Canadian dollar has strengthened (currently, it’s virtually

What ‘High School Musical’ Taught Me About Direct Marketing
August 21, 2007

By now, most of you know that the Disney Channel juggernaut “High School Musical,” is perhaps the most powerful brand in America right now. Witness the premiere on Aug. 17 of the highly anticipated sequel, “High School Musical 2,” which whipped America’s “tweeners” (kids ages 6 to 14) into a frenzy — and their parents into buying action.
As of this writing, the sequel’s soundtrack has taken over the No. 1 position on iTunes. And of course, my 7-year-old had to have his soundtrack immediately after the movie aired. That means that for the next few months there will be only one CD playing

So You Wanna Break into the Catalog Business ...
July 31, 2007

Last week, I got an e-mail from a former student of mine telling me he was starting a company with mail order as one of its distribution channels. He had a neat idea, and I thought the items he was about to sell had merit. Clearly he had his product line thought out well.

It pleases me to no end when this happens: a budding entrepreneur, about to stake his claim in the business world. Then I get the question that I dread: “How do I buy a list so I can grow the business?” How do I buy a list? Oh man, haven’t I

Three Ways to Cut Customer Acquisition Costs and BEAT the Postal Increase
May 14, 2007

Last week, I discussed some powerful resources for finding obscure mailing lists that may not be on the traditional list rental market.

This week, let’s take these resources a step further. You can use the below list of research sources to make contact with companies, and then create reciprocal list exchanges and co-marketing partnerships. With this week’s absolutely insane postal rate increase, now is a great time for you to look at alternative ways to acquire customers and even lower your customer acquisition costs.

Again, the resources are:

* Belcaro Shop at Home (

* (

* Greyhouse publishing (<a

Find the ‘Hidden’ List Market to Help Your Business Grow
May 8, 2007

Over the past few weeks, I’ve discussed extensively how to select the right list broker and the right lists for your offerings. This week, let’s explore a few ways to find lists that may not be on the rental market.

Not every company chooses to mail catalogs, and not every catalog company puts its list on the rental market. Naturally, these lists wouldn’t be on the typical list broker’s radar screen.

Sometimes, especially when you work in a tight niche market, you need to find new lists beyond what your list broker recommends. There are a number of catalog sources that you can use as

How to Read a Datacard Like a Pro, Part 3
May 1, 2007

When I look at a datacard to decide the mailability of a prospect list, I look carefully at all of the details. I have an inquisitive and questioning nature and want to know everything I can about the lists I want to mail, but…

…Mostly what I want to know is what affinity the prospect list has with my customers.

The closer the affinity, the more I can assume this list is a good prospect for my mailings. If the list seems right, based on the information on the datacard, I move it from my “suspect” list folder to my “prospect” list folder.

Some datacards provide a