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

Can Creative Lightning Strike Twice?
February 12, 2007

The following is a true story. The names have been changed to protect, well, me.

Some time ago, I was hired to run, actually turn around, a consumer mail order company that sold apparel and accessories. The company sold high-quality products to a niche market, and prospecting wasn’t so easy. Sales and profits were declining despite the fact that the company’s industry was seeing a growth spurt.

We decided, as part of the overall turnaround strategy that the catalog’s image needed a makeover.

Frankly, the catalog looked horrible, so we hired a great catalog agency to fix things.

The agency re-did everything from our logo to

Proper Care and Feeding for Your Internal Creative Team
February 5, 2007

If you decide you want to tackle catalog creative development in house, my recommendation is to follow a few simple rules regarding your creative talent. As I said last week, developing catalogs for mail order is different than branding. The more your design team understands the roots of the direct marketing business the better for your business.

Rule #1: If you’re hiring a designer or a creative director, hire vertically. Find someone with a background in your industry. If you market clothing, then find someone who has designed mail order clothing catalogs, etc. There’s a lot of creative talent out there, but it’ll make your

How to Choose the Right Design Team to Implement Your Catalog
January 29, 2007

When clients come to me with questions about starting a catalog, invariably the subject of creative development comes up. Should it be their internal creative department despite its limited knowledge of catalog development; their agency, which really knows the business; or someone else entirely?

My answer to those questions always is this: Choose designers who specifically know the mail order catalog market. Why? Consider the following:

A catalog used to generate sales via mail/Internet ordering is a very different animal from a branding vehicle. It may look similar, but companies that create mail order catalogs know exactly how to build a catalog that not only builds

Four Last-minute Tactics to Increase Your Holiday Revenue
November 21, 2006

I’ll keep this column brief (I know you want this week to end. I can’t wait for the advanced stages of tryptophan sleepiness to set in after the turkey is done). Want to add some revenue before the end of the year? Try the following:

1. Add an extra mailing in before the end of the year. Try it this way: After your last mailing is complete, mail one more catalog just to your hotline buyers, those who just responded from your last mailings of the year. If it’s too late to get your printer involved, grab some of your bounce back and office copy