Beat or Meet or Your Sales Forecasts by Year’s End, Part 2: The Print Channel
October 2, 2007

Last week I offered six ways to use low-cost e-mail to increase your sales; the goal being to help those of you (41 percent) who were behind their 2007 sales forecasts according to the reader poll on the homepage. This week, I’ll focus on print catalog-related tips to increase your revenue in the last quarter of 2007.

* Add an extra catalog to your mail schedule. Take a look at your customer file and sort it by recency/frequency/monetary (RFM) value. Are there RFM cells that are highly profitable every time you mail? These profitable RFM segments (aka your best customers) likely can handle

Give Proper Care and Placement to B-to-B Inserts
September 4, 2007

As a consultant, one of the things I love to do when touring a B-to-B catalog company is to take a look at the customer order just before it gets sealed. I usually make a point of doing it during the first tour of the operation. What I find usually astounds me.
Most often, standard marketing materials — a catalog, a flyer or two, maybe a thank-you card or survey — are tossed helter-skelter in the bottom of the box, covered by the items being ordered and the void fill of choice. Imagine what happens when customers open that box presuming, of course,

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

Postal Desperation: A Last Minute Call to Action to Protest the Pending Rate Hike
April 3, 2007

I’m going to interrupt my series on list selects for the issue that’s gotten under just about every cataloger’s skin lately: the pending postage increase. You have until April 12 to make your voice heard by protesting the USPS postal hike. As you may already know the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is recommending ridiculously high postal increases that could severely damage many catalogers’ businesses.

I urge you before it is too late to make your voice heard! (See below if not clear how to go about doing this.)

The PRC has posted on its Web site a “Notice Of Request For Reconsideration And Order Establishing

Postal Reform, Shmostal Reform: Beat any postal increase NOW (and look like a hero!) Part 3 of 3
January 2, 2007

Continuing the discussion started here a few weeks ago, I’m firing off some more tips to offset any postal increase, anytime. Use them in good health.

9. Get closer with your letter carrier: If you’re not using a printer who does destination entry programs, then find one quickly. With destination entry your printer trucks your catalog closer to the bulk mail centers and sectional center facilities. The end result is that your mail has travels a shorter distanceon its way to the end reader (your customer). The cost for trucking will be less than the discount from the post office. The end result: you save

Postal Reform, Shmostal Reform: Beat any postal increase NOW (and look like a hero!) Part 2 of 3
January 1, 2007

Continuing the discussion started here in December, here are some more tips to offset any postal increase, anytime.

6. Drive ’em on in. Can you get away with not mailing a catalog? How about testing a miniature catalog, or even a postcard designed to drive customers to your Web site. But don’t just implement it without knowing its impact; test it meticulously. (For more on miniature catalogs, watch for a special feature coming the February print edition of Catalog Success.)

7. Prospect with your best foot forward. Consider creating a smaller catalog just for prospecting purposes. Place your best selling products in it (from our squinch

Postal Reform, Shmostal Reform: Beat any postal increase NOW (and look like a hero!)
December 12, 2006

Regardless of the fact that postal reform is on the verge of being signed into law, we all know one thing. Just like death and taxes, you can always count on postal rates to go up. So whether we get consistent, rate increases that are, alas, consistent with the consumer price index, or a whopper every few years, who cares? Because we always must work to compensate for increases.

The rule of thumb is for every penny your catalog costs go up, you must generate 2 cents per catalog mailed to compensate for it.

That means one of three things needs to happen: Your catalog

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

The Four Steps to Take Before Starting a Catalog (Ya Gotta Start Somewhere)
October 17, 2006

I’d like to address the must-have core competencies you’ll need when either starting or maintaining a catalog. But first, I’ll respond to Micah and Rob’s comments from last week. Yes, the Internet is both a pull AND push medium. I didn’t forget e-mail to drive business. I just left it out for the sake of contrasting pull vs. push. Thanks for speaking up.

On to the topic of the next few weeks: What does it take to start a catalog business?

Many of the people who ask this aren’t necessarily sitting at their kitchen tables, looking to be the next Lillian Vernons. They’re accomplished retailers,

Don’t start a catalog!
September 30, 2006

Really… I mean it!

If you’re not already in the catalog business, don’t start one. In fact, you can stop reading here.

Don’t even waste your time…

O.K., you got me. I’m being ironic.

In fact, a few paragraphs down, I’ll tell you why now is the best time to start a catalog business. But, only as long as you’re willing to follow the few simple rules of the catalog business. Rules that run counterintuitive to your current business model.

To me, this is a fitting way to start my first weekly blog (silly word blog, but less silly than saying the word “spam”