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

Read a Datacard Like a Pro, Part 2: Location, Location, Location!
April 24, 2007

Just like in real estate, location is a key factor in deciding which lists to rent for prospect mailings. That’s why looking on a datacard for the “source” that a list’s names came from is critical. If you’re selling through the mail, you want other lists of prospects who have purchased through the mail.

We’re in a behaviorally based business. List prospects who may look like a fit sometimes are not. Let’s go back to the Athleta list from last week (see ). That list’s source is “100 percent direct mail sold.” Not Internet sold, and not compiled from the phone book.

More on Lists: How to Read a Datacard Like a Pro
April 16, 2007

What’s the best way to glean the information you need in order to make a decision on whether you should test or not test a particular list? This week, I’d like to lay that out for you.

For those of you new to renting lists, or if you’ve never seen a datacard, you can view thousands of datacards by visiting Nextmark is a tool that industry professionals use to find and recommend lists to mailers. According to Nextmark, there are 60,000 lists currently on the market. Most of the people using this tool are lists brokers — and for the average person,

The Best Ways to Choose Mailing Lists
March 21, 2007

Selecting the right mailing lists for your offering is as much art as it is science. Last week, I discussed hedging your bets by choosing the right list broker (the science). Today I’ll delve into what to do with the list broker recommendation you receive — how to separate the wheat from the chaff (the art).

First of all, I like to put list brokers to the test and have them put themselves in my shoes. This way they recommend the lists they’d use if it were their decision. A good broker from a top firm will have much information on your market

List Primer Part III: Selecting The Right List Brokerage For Your Offer
March 13, 2007

There are thousands of lists on the market and there are plenty of list brokers you can choose from to match up your catalog and its customers to the best prospects. And like any industry, there are some great list brokerages and some sleazy ones.

A little research goes a long way when searching for the right list broker or brokerage. Bottom line: You want to find the broker who handles clients that are similar to you. For example, if you’re an apparel cataloger, find a list brokerage that handles many apparel catalog titles. If you serve a tight niche, find a list broker

List Primer, Part II: Past Behavior Predicts Future Performance
February 26, 2007

Choosing mailing lists for your direct marketing efforts may seem pretty straightforward. But in actuality, it can become rather complex. This week, I’ll serve up my thoughts on how to choose the proper mailing lists for your effort.
It’s important to note up front that if you haven’t rented lists before, you should choose a good list broker. In next week’s blog, I’ll address what to look for when choosing the right broker. For now, however, let’s concentrate a bit more on the basics.
When choosing lists always think of one word: affinity. While that may sound obvious, the catalog lists whose products and

A List Primer for Product Side Management
February 19, 2007

Since last September, we’ve discussed printing, merchandise and catalog creative execution. Over the next few weeks, I’ll serve up some suggestions and insights regarding the list side of the catalog business.

Always remember, the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing states that list selection can impact 40 percent of your direct marketing efforts.

For starters, you’re probably paying WAY too much attention to your merchandise and creative efforts! That’s O.K., it’s only natural. You’re a merchant in a product driven company and you want your products and your brand image to represent the sum of your hard work. Besides, your products and image are the calling