December 08, 2016

Black Friday 2024 Changed Everything At Macy's

Tippy Tarlington remembers the moment when everything changed.

"We were sitting in a Black Friday promotional meeting, and two things struck me as odd. First, I was the only Macy's employee in the meeting - heck, I was the only human in the room - everybody else was a bot who worked for a vendor supporting our marketing efforts ... and second, I couldn't figure out how to make money replicating the 85% off promotion from Black Friday 2023." said Tarlington, the Vice President of Strategy at Macy's.

"And then it hit me ... we would give away our merchandise for free, and make money on sponsored content."

At first, Tarlington was daunted by the scale of effort required to pull off this herculean task.

"But then it came to me ... we needed to thoroughly integrate all channels. It all started with our hoverseat strategy - using self-driving cars that eject passengers at their destination via a hoverseat. Self-driving cars were programmed to stop at Macy's, transport the customer into the store via hoverseat ejection, and then it was our job to make in-store magic happen."

The magic, as one might surmise, came from sponsored content.

"We figured out that we could put a veritable plethora of holographic images, videos, and text-based content in front of the customer as the hoverseat transported the customer to a random stack of Dockers pants. A video from The Weather Channel about global warming, a response from the alt-right about a pending mini-ice-age, we simply did not care. Either piece of highly engaging, relevant, personalized content drives the customer to a portion of our assortment to satisfy weather-based needs. The content is highly relevant to the consumer, but is utterly irrelevant to Macy's as long as our invoices are paid."

Sponsored content coupled with a hoverchair strategy yielded conversion rates close to 45%, according to Tarlington.

"It's really fascinating. You can convert a lot of customers when you offer merchandise at 100% off, and content providers are more than happy to foot the bill if it means that engaged eyeballs are tracked and marketed to at all moments. Frankly, I was surprised conversion rates didn't hit 100%, but there's no pleasing consumers in today's highly competitive environment."

Tarlington closed the deal with skeptical content providers by freely giving away all customer data associated with the transaction. As we talked, Tarlington sat back in her chair, and with the enthusiasm of a highly paid executive, Tarlington said ... "We're giving away all of the merchandise, why not give away all of the data? As long as the invoices are paid, our profits won't fade. Hey, maybe we need to put that quote on the walls of all conference rooms at Macy's, amirite?"

Wall St. of course, is skeptical. In a quarter-to-quarter environment, Wall St. wonders what Macy's can do to increase sales in a 100% off environment? Tarlington was quick to respond to the critics.

"We believe we can run 120% off promotions for Black Friday 2025. What could be more tempting than offering the customer $10 cash to purchase a $50 item at 100% off? And as long as content providers are happy to pay for eyeballs, there should be no shortage of money to go around to support what is likely to become a negative interest retail environment."

When asked if a first-mover advantage could crumble should all retailers go down the same path, driving down prices paid by content providers, Tarlington's face turned pale.

"Are you telling me that we might condition the customer to expect free merchandise and then not be able to offer free merchandise because content providers won't pay us enough? Is that what you are suggesting? Because I am not playing chess here, I'm just following the money. I love earning bonuses for short-term sales gains, because you don't have to think five steps ahead. Should I be thinking five steps ahead? Geez. Talk about taking the fun out of marketing strategy."

December 07, 2016

Start Your Rebuild By Obtaining Facts

You might think that 2016 isn't representative of a "normal year".

You might be right.

That's why you look at multi-year trends.

Look at what is going on with this business, via the 2x comp segment framework I've been talking about for the past four years.
  • In this case, the "Election" probably hurt October/November comps. So we openly acknowledge the fact. But then we move on.
  • 8 of 12 months in 2015 had negative comps.
  • 10 of 12 months in 2016 had negative comps - toss out "Election" months, and 8 of 10 months in 2016 had negative comps.
So when we look at the data objectively, we see a business that after removing Oct/Nov "Election" impact posted negative monthly comps in 16 of the past 22 months.

In other words, this business was dying for nearly two years. This business need to be rebuilt, period. Look at the facts below.
  • 16 of the past 22 non-Election months had negative comps.
  • Excluding "Election" months, Nov/Dec/Jan posted positives in 7 of 8 months over the past three years.
  • Outside of "Election" months, Feb-Oct yielded positives in 4 of 26 months.
Outside of Christmas, this business is broken.

This is a common story.

Worse - go analyze gross margin dollars less marketing discounts/promos in Feb-Oct and Nov-Jan ... for so many companies, growth in Nov/Dec/Jan is fueled by 40% off to 60% off promotions, destroying profitability.

When you see a business with metrics that look like this, you see a business in dire need of being rebuilt. Focus on the initiatives below, and get busy!

December 06, 2016

Rebuilding In 2017

You remember this slide from six weeks ago, right? I spent three weeks talking about rebuilding a business. I converted sales and profit numbers into NFL-style Won-Lost records.

Have you ever noticed that few folks rebuild something that is successful?

In sports, teams hit rock bottom - and are then rebuilt from the bottom up. It is not common (though it happens - ask the Cleveland Cavaliers) for the Coach or GM to be fired while the team is winning. And isn't it interesting that you'll have teams, say the Carolina Panthers, who are in the Super Bowl one year and then struggle the next? It's almost like the seeds of a rebuild are apparent, but are not observed ... blinded by the glow of winning. Or the seeds of a rebuild happen moments after the peak of a prior rebuilding project.

Look at the Macy's table above. In 2011, the business peaked at an 8-8 record (just .500). Then, as Macy's was lauded by the press for being an omnichannel success story, the business went 8-8, 7-9, 7-9, 6-10 last year, and is trending toward 5-11 this year. It should come as no surprise that a ton of people were let go and stores were closed.
Run your financial reporting through my won/lost equation (contact me for your own worksheet so you can perform the calculation - What do you observe?

It's entirely possible that it is time to rebuild your business. Use business initiatives like the ones below as the foundation of your rebuilding process.

December 05, 2016

An Open Letter To My Catalog Friends

Dear Catalog Friends:

You read what Bill wrote on Sunday - click here if you didn't. That's not me saying it, that's somebody you know and trust.

Do you remember what I wrote about, close to a year ago? If not, click here. In fact, for the past decade, I've literally been begging you to diversify your customer acquisition portfolio. Last year, I gave this presentation with more than a hundred customer acquisition ideas - the presentation was viewed more than 18,000 times (click here). After the presentation, many catalogers told me that the ideas "would not work" for them - because in part catalogers are "unique" and "special".

So if having a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Program won't work for you ... and the co-ops are no longer working for you ... well ... you've got a problem, don't you?

Catalog Holding Companies (Potpourri Group / Colony Brands / Plow & Hearth / Bluestem Brands / Universal Screen Arts / Many, Many Others) have a minor advantage - they can prospect off of sister file lists. You're going to see a lot more of this, going forward. Why pay somebody $0.06 a name a dozen times a year when a comparable name is available on a sister file list?

Their strategy solves a short-term problem while weakening the non-Catalog-Holding-Company position. But again, this is a short-term solution.

Do you remember 2000 - 2005? As failed "multi-channel" initiatives dominated, a story slowly gained momentum, a story not covered by anybody. List brands - the folks you'd pay to help you horse trade names with competing brands - were being decimated by the co-ops. All of a sudden, you looked up, and Millard & Mokrynski and others were gone ... just like that. Ironically, that was it for cataloger health (as an industry). The brains all walked out the door, and algorithms rapidly aged cataloger customer files, which in turn rapidly aged cataloger merchandise offerings, which in turn alienated online conversion among customers < age 50.

That was the transition from lists to algorithms (co-ops). It began in the early 90s, and it took just shy of fifteen years for the revolution to occur.

The same transition is happening today, and it is happening in plain sight but few see it. We are transitioning from algorithms (co-ops) to artificial intelligence (Google + Facebook + Amazon). Google and Facebook have been around for shy of fifteen years (Amazon longer), and the revolution has happened.

AI (artificial intelligence) is smarter than the algorithms the co-ops use. AI technology gobbled up data on all individuals, just like the co-ops had all households in their algorithm. Co-ops accept transactions from brands on an as-needed basis. Google and Facebook infer interest in real-time.

When we transitioned from lists to algorithms, many catalogers suffered ... many were slow to respond to the kind of customers offered by the co-ops ... those brands were gobbled up by Catalog Holding Companies.

Now we are transitioning from algorithms to artificial intelligence.

I've been begging you to craft a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Program. Think Duluth Trading Company (and I get it, you hate thinking about them, you hate their "humor", and they're not located in New England so they "don't count"). Why do you think I'm begging you to craft a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Program?
  • A Unique Point of View allows you to use Artificial Intelligence to your advantage. Google + Social work in your favor, rather than you paying AI to get access to customers who have no interest in your merchandise assortment.
I've worked with more than 200 brands since founding MineThatData nearly a decade ago. I get to see what works and what doesn't work. This is the reason I'm begging you to craft a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Program.

A cataloger cannot win the transition from algorithms to artificial intelligence without a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Program. Within the confines of a Catalog Holding Company, the cataloger can stave off the transition for awhile. Please don't be caught off guard by the transition from algorithms to artificial intelligence - like so many catalogers were caught off guard by the transition from lists to algorithms.

P.S.: Some of you are going to tell me that Google + Social + Mobile + Amazon "don't work" or "don't scale", and you will be right. That's how you will know that you are not prepared to deal with the shift from algorithms to artificial intelligence. That's how you will know that you need a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Program.

P.P.S:  To my catalog friends - I believe in you. You have every tool at your disposal to move your business forward. Some of you have successfully managed 40+ years of change. This is just another step in a long evolutionary process.

P.P.P.S:  Agree or disagree? Send me your thoughts ( and I will publish your comments later this week.

December 04, 2016

Marketing Attribution

Can I show you something?

Here are a few snaps from the Oklahoma / Wisconsin basketball game on Saturday. Look at the image below.

The player who has the ball is going to score in a few seconds. He will get the credit for the basket. But there are two players I want you to watch - watch #10 and #24 in white - watch what they do, ok?

#10 is moving up toward the free throw line. #24 is moving toward the corner. Their movement is going to stretch the defense, as we will seen next:

Look where #10 is - he's now near the top of the key. This pulls the defender, #1 in red, away from the basket. And look at where #24 is? He wants the ball, look at his right hand. He's wide open! But most delicious is that the player defending him is caught in no-man's-land. Should he cover #24? If he does, the player with the ball (#22) scores an easy basket. If he covers #22, he leaves #24 wide open for an easy three point shot.

The result?

Look at that. The two Oklahoma defenders are rendered helpless. #1 must stay near #10 ... and the poor defender caught between #22 and #24 ends up covering nobody.

It's a layup, an easy basket for #22.

Again, who gets credit for this basket?

Officially, #22 gets credit for two points.

But without proper execution of the play by #10 and #24, #22 cannot score a layup.

Some in the basketball world evaluate what is called "plus/minus". They look at combinations of five players, and they look at individual players, and they measure how many more points are scored when an individual player is on the court or combination of players are on the court at the same time.

Can you see where I am headed with this?

I have spent the past year practically begging you to implement your own marketing system, your own Unique Point of View, which when coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition system yields business success.

In other words, I am practically begging you to run your own version of a basketball offense, just like in the four images outlined above.

And every time I practically beg you to run your own version of a basketball offense, to have a Unique Point of View, I get email messages that look and sound like the messages below:
  • "You talk a lot about low cost customer acquisition programs. Can you please share five or six ideas that are guaranteed to work, and can you name the clients that use them so that I can perform some research on the topic, kthanx?"
  • "How do you attribute the marketing activities that worked? If we create a Unique Point of View and then the customer purchases via Paid Search, should I give Paid Search credit for the order?"
  • "Which vendor does the best job of attributing orders due to marketing activities?"
In my opinion, every one of those questions misses the point.

Later in the game, this image appeared.

Who is sponsoring the free throw attempt?

That's one tiny part of a low cost customer acquisition program. Duluth Trading Company is doing the same thing that #10 Nigel Hayes and #24 Bronson Koenig did on the play sequence above. This mini-ad is the same as when Hayes / Koenig cleared out defenders so that #22 Ethan Happ could drive to the basket and score. It is one small component of a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Strategy.

It would be incorrect to say "how do I attribute orders to the specific ad displayed at the moment when Nigel Hayes shoots a free throw", right?

All of the pieces have to fit together.

Say you execute your individual marketing tactics perfectly, and then this is the presentation of the merchandise in a store.

Who do you attribute the failure to generate an order to ... Paid Search ... or the Department Manager within the store?

Oh, you don't take attribution down to that level?

Then why the heck are you taking marketing attribution down to the level vendors want you to take it down to, when you know darn well that your individual marketing tactics interact with your Unique Point of View and your Low Cost Customer Acquisition strategy to either yield success/failure?

Maybe you don't have a Unique Point of View? And it is most likely that you ignore having a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Strategy, right?

The past ten years led us astray. We've broken business down into 388 tiny pieces, and we manage each of the 388 pieces independently, and we try to then attribute success to each of the 388 pieces.

We need to do the opposite.

We need to behave more like sports teams. We need to have a comprehensive strategy, a Unique Point of View coupled with a Low Cost Customer Acquisition Strategy. Then, when success happens, we don't give credit to one of 388 individual tactics ... instead, we "win", just like Wisconsin won their game against Oklahoma (90-70).

Questions? Email me at

December 01, 2016

Your Business Initiatives For 2017

If I were rebuilding a catalog business (starting in 2017), here are the seven initiatives I'd roll out to my staff.

As CEO, I'd align every functional area across the seven business initiatives. The marketing "point of view" is critically important, but might take 1-3 years to properly implement, whereas (1) and (2) can be implemented within 18 months, (3) and (4) can be implemented within 6 months, (5) can be implemented within 24 months, and (6) can be implemented immediately. The time frames are different, but all the concepts interact with each other.

Contact me ( if you have questions about how the structure applies to your business.

You Measure Re-Visit Rate, Right?

You have a model, and you use the model to predict the probability of an individual customer visiting your website in the next thirty days, right? RIGHT?

There are two metrics worth modeling - scoring your database on a daily / hourly basis.
  • Probability of Customer Visiting Your Website In The Next 30 Days (re-visit rate).
  • Number of Customer Visits - Should Customer Re-Visit Your Website.
If you know that a customer has an 85% chance of visiting your website next month and will visit seven times, well, then you know that this customer is there every four days ... and you better not bore the living daylights out of this customer, right?

If you know that a customer has a 15% chance of visiting your website next month and will visit twice in the next month if the customer visits, well, now you have to craft a clever marketing story to get this customer to put her fingers on the smart phone, right?

Most important - you're going to need multiple stories for multiple customer segments, right?

But you can't get started unless you know how likely each customer is to visit your digital presence monthly. And worse, if your customer interacts with you on Instagram and not on your website, then your website is a glorified order form, and you have to get intelligence about what the customer is doing elsewhere.

So please, perform the analysis. Score your file on a daily / hourly basis.

November 30, 2016

Current Business Issues

The past week has been one of the most interesting in recent memory.

Trade journalists breathlessly scoop up the page views by calling Cyber Monday a "record" (click here). Go back to 2006. EVERY YEAR since has been a record! E-commerce cannibalizes the living daylights out of retail, and folks celebrate a record ... that is until you add retail and e-commerce together. Notice that nobody publishes that figure. Cyber Monday articles are #fakenews, applied to marketers. Or they're like cat videos. You get the picture.

I received an email from an apparel brand this morning ... two days after Cyber Monday ... celebrating "Cyber Week" and "Overwhelming Response" that "Harmed Website Performance" ... their response?  An additional 30% off the 60% promotion they ran on Cyber Monday.

Isn't that lovely? How would you like to be the idiot customer who suffered through sluggish website performance on Monday to earn 60% off, only to learn that she was a moron?

How about the customer who purchased at 20% off in late September, only to see discounts go to 30% off in mid-October and then 40% off in early November and 50% off on Black Friday and 60% off on Cyber Monday? How does that customer feel?

I read a quote that "the customer has been conditioned to only expect the deepest discounts and to not purchase until the deepest discounts are offered". Explain how a trade journalist partnering with the National Retail Federation helps members by breathlessly screaming at the public to expect 50% off plus free shipping in late November? It's good for page views. It's not good for profit for a retail brand. It is good for profit for the trade journalist.

Readers, you understand how gross margin works, right?

You buy an item from a vendor at $20 ... and you sell it for $50. You make $30 profit.

At 20% off, you sell the item for $40. You make $20 profit. You need to sell 50% more units to equalize profit.

At 30% off, you sell the item for $35. You make $15 profit. You need to sell 2x as many units to equalize profit.

At 40% off, you sell the item for $30. You make $10 profit. You need to sell 3x as many units to equalize profit.

At 50% off, you sell the item for $25. You make $5 profit. You need to sell 6x as many units to equalize profit.

At 60% off, you sell the item for $20. You make $0 profit. Good luck!

Your CFO understands the logic. Your CFO would never allow this to happen unless inventory levels were bloated and the brand had no choice but to give the merchandise away.

You've analyzed how customers who purchase at 50% off or 60% off subsequently behave, right? You know that these customers, on equal sales, generate less gross margin dollars in the future ... right?

There are so many moving parts this fall. I've analyzed many of them, many, many times.

Customer Acquisition - Catalogs: You already know that the co-ops are dying. You already know you must have a credible replacement in place by the end of 2017, or big trouble is on the horizon.

Customer Acquisition - Online:  Online brands are hitting the customer acquisition wall. Google + Facebook leverage the supply-and-demand relationship to charge you more for less. You already know that you must have a credible replacement in place by the end of 2017, or big trouble is on the horizon.

New Merchandise:  I've been talking about this for years, and most of you agree that new merchandise is critical to future success. I continue to see that 80% of my projects yield a new merchandise challenge. Without enough new items, existing items have to pull more weight. Unfortunately, existing items decay. Again, you already know this, and you know that you must have a credible new merchandise program in place by the end of 2017, or big trouble is on the horizon.

Lean Inventory:  This fixes a lot of problems. Yes, you are going to sell out of stuff. Fast fashion folks sell out all the time. When you sell out, you don't need to be at 40% off, do you?

  • "The company is simply too large in the new normal where physical distribution has become a liability."
That's the most delicious quote of 2016. What does it mean? It means that the omnichannel thesis where some believed that "bricks 'n clicks" was "table stakes" was completely wrong. It means that stores are now a liability.

And more importantly, it means that the omnichannel thesis led to a complete lack of urgency on behalf of a customer. Why act now when the item is available in any store or online at any time? Discounts/promotions became the only way to create urgency, and discounts/promotions destroy a company over time.

You already know this, and you know that you must have a credible "urgency program" in place by the end of 2017, or big trouble is on the horizon.

Trusting Younger Professionals:  At a conference this past spring, I presented the idea of having a team of 30-39ish professionals be accountable for elements of the business. Let's just say that the 50-59ish employees at the conference did not like this idea. At all. One told me "you cannot trust kids to run the business". I am continually told stories of decision-making processes that require eight layers of signoffs and must clear an Executive or the idea is dead.

Vendors have a term for what they want to see happen ... they call it "agility" or being "agile". Fast decisions. Decentralized decisions. Accountability. Risk. Reward.

You already know that a bloated org structure is bad, and that you must push decision making and strategy to younger employees. You already know that this program must be in place by the end of 2017, or big trouble is on the horizon.

Gross Margin:  We already know that our objectives need to be centered on (at minimum) maximizing Gross Margin less Marketing Discounts/Promotions. You don't do this by offering 60% off plus free shipping. You already know this, and you know you must have a credible program in place to maximize gross margin dollars by the end of 2017, or big trouble is on the horizon.

I could write about this for the next ten days and not even scratch the surface.

You know what you need to do to fix your business. Almost all of you know what to do. 

So are you going to listen to trade journalists who tell you to scale back your "emoji strategy" (yes, this was an article from this week - #fakenews) ... or are you going to focus on the topics outlined here?

It's time to solve current business issues. Use 2017 as the rebuilding year that leads to a much improved 2018.

Website Visits

Three or four times a week, I'll come across something suggesting that if you just have the right color structure on your website, conversion rates will "skyrocket". This has always been interesting to me - somebody had to #analyze and/or #test the issue in order to demand color adherence, right?

And yet, countless companies listen to the advice and follow the advice and nothing happens to sales/conversion over time.

This is one of the magical aspects of e-commerce ... you can test your way into greatly improved conversion rates and yet sales don't budget.

Why does this happen?

In a recent project, I evaluated the "best" customers in the twelve-month buyer file ... the top 10% of the twelve-month buyer file, measuring website behavior in the next thirty days.
  • Probability of Visiting the Website 1+ Time in the Next Month = 62%.
  • Monthly Visits if Customer Visits Next Month = 6.3.
  • Probability of Customer Purchasing 1+ Time in the Next Month = 50%.
  • Amount Spent if Customer Purchases Next Month = $140.
You've got eight customers - three of them don't even bother to visit the website next month. But five do visit the website, and if they visit, they visit every five days. Best not to bore these customers to death, #amirite?

Here's where things get interesting. When conversion rate optimization gurus apply their #datascience to conversion, they aren't measuring monthly repurchase rates, are they? No. They demand that the customer visiting the website every five days must BUY SOMETHING EVERY FIVE DAYS. Which doesn't happen, but whatever.

So when we optimize the website via the right color structure or whatever tactic we elect to use, we obviously improve conversion rate. But if we don't increase sales, then what exactly is happening?

This is what is happening.
  • Probability of Visiting the Website 1+ Time in the Next Month = 62%.
  • Monthly Visits if Customer Visits Next Month = 5.0.
  • Probability of Customer Purchasing 1+ Time in the Next Month = 50%.
  • Amount Spent if Customer Purchases Next Month = $140.
In other words, we reduce the number of visits to the website. By reducing the number of visits, we increase conversion rate without increasing monthly repurchase rates. The net result is no increase in sales but an increase in conversion rate.

See - we're optimizing the wrong thing.
  • We optimize conversion rate.
  • We do not optimize monthly repurchase rate.
  • Sales don't increase as a result.
On a monthly/annual basis, it is very difficult to increase customer spend without significant improvements in merchandise productivity. On a visit-by-visit basis, it is easy to increase conversion rate. But by removing "friction", we optimize for the wrong metric, and do not yield true business gains.

Something to think about.

November 29, 2016

Customer Acquisition Is An Issue Now For "Digital" Brands

We have a bunch of "digital" brands who grew until customer acquisition dried up ... and then ... well ... that's when the really hard work begins.

Catalogers ... the majority of digital brands I get to speak with do not understand the customer loyalty / customer acquisition dynamic. At all. Modern conversion rate measurement makes it impossible to understand the dynamic. You have an opportunity, albeit brief, to capitalize on customer acquisition dynamics before digital folks figure things out. A couple of years, tops. Take advantage of your opportunity. And hint - your opportunity does not include co-ops.

November 28, 2016

Revisiting Copy

I am going to share this with you again ... because my metrics show that this cruised right over your heads while pointless vapid content is fully absorbed.

Look at the copy associated with this item from Talbots.

Now look at the copy associated with Chubbies.

Here's what the metrics suggest was missed ...

  1. Many catalog-centric brands write copy that describes the item.
  2. Many online brands write copy that describes the customer.
I don't have data to prove that one method is better than another method.

I do have data to demonstrate that catalog growth isn't happening, but online brands are growing.

As part of your 2017 rebuilding process, please carefully evaluate your copy. Strongly consider bringing your copy to life - describing the customer instead of describing the item.

November 27, 2016

Triggers in Modern Cataloging

Here's something that could help you.

Outside of your twelve-month buyer file, you have a huge glut of lapsed buyers. And you tend to mail them on a campaign-by-campaign basis. Sometimes, you'll overlay co-op data, but that doesn't really push the peanut, does it? Some vendors will recommend that you send postcards or other small formats instead of catalogs - that can be a reasonable solution too. If you live in Silicon Valley, your response is "you still mail catalogs, what is this, 1995?"

Let's pretend that you only mail lapsed buyers that achieve 10% variable profit. Or you lose money on reactivated buyers because you think you'll make it up with lifetime value.

Now, you've got everybody else left - and you cannot afford to mail them.

There are two sets of triggers you can employ ... in-house and overlay.

In-house triggers relate to activity on your website. If the customer visits your website and meets modeled criteria (i.e. some visits indicate catalog responsiveness, some don't, email clicks usually recommend a suppression and not a hotline catalog), send the customer a hotline catalog right now.

Overlay triggers relate to your co-ops. Ask your favorite co-op to open the pipes and send you a score that updates every day. As activity within the co-op changes (some positive, some negative), you'll eventually find a circumstance where your customer score (executed in-house) combines favorably with co-op score changes ... and guess what? You kick out a hotline catalog!

By moving your cutoffs up to 10% variable profit and by leveraging in-house and overlay triggers, you only mail catalogs to lapsed buyers that "qualify" based on reasonable and profitable behavior. Your favorite co-op makes more cheddar as well, because they are now embedded within your housefile modeling process, fulfilling a goal the co-op sales rep has had for years.

Catalog marketing is moving to a trigger-centric discipline. It has to - there's too much waste involved. If you love mailing catalogs, why not generate more profit in the process?