January 09, 2008

DMA Enhances Product To Compete With Catalog Choice

Kudos to the Direct Marketing Association for enhancing their mail preference solution. The enhanced product more closely resembles the product offered by Catalog Choice, and is free to consumers (though a credit card number must be given to validate the request).

We shall see which service the customer trusts more, maybe that will be the only fun part of all this for us catalogers.

Catalogers --- you've been amazingly quiet over the past two weeks. What are your thoughts on all of this activity?


  1. If I am a vrand new catalog, can I rent that list from the DMA? Sure would like to get my new catalog into households that receive fewer catalogs.

    Just sayin'...

  2. Anonymous7:17 PM

    I'm sorry to say, that so long as the DMA requires a credit card for so-called validation (or any identification for that matter), that I won't participate in their program.

    Rather than crying and whining and kicking and screaming like some old-school industries (RIAA, MPAA) who are against change, accept the fact that marketing is no longer about annoying the crap out of everyone you can, in the hopes that *some* percentage of them will be convinced to buy, and focus on those people who are interested in your wares.

    If you satisfy those people, they'll tell others, and help build your business with people who WANT your catalog.

    But the best thing you can do when someone says "I don't want to receive your catalogs any longer" is to say "We're sorry to hear that. We'll take you off our list immediately. If something was already in the mail, you might get that - so please accept our apologies. If you need anything in the future, please consider us."

    Then delete their name and move on...

  3. Jim --- give your strategy a try, and get back to us with the results :)

    Anonymous --- what industry do you work in? How does your industry go about marketing products and services?

  4. I have to agree with 'anonymous'. If a customer tells you they don't want to hear from you, listen to them. I spend lots of time trying to figure out how consumer preferences in terms of how they want to hear from my clients (mail, telemarketing, e-mail, etc.). If a client raises their hand and tells you to stop sending them a catalog, stop wasting your money and do it.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Sorry to delete the comment above. It linked to a blog entry, which I’ve now, upon further reflection, decided to remove.

    I’ll just reiterate that I’m glad DMA has updated their mail preference site. I signed up for it (again, maybe the third time’ll be the charm) shortly after reading about it here. Unfortunately, the DMA program is still lacking when compared to Catalog Choice.

    Some of the key issues are:

    • DMA requires a credit card number for identification purposes. That wasn’t a deterrent to me, since I’ve paid the $1 fee by credit card previously, and I think it’s great that the DMA opt-out service is now free. However, more people would be likely to participate if there was a simple e-mail confirmation process, as with Catalog Choice.

    • DMA limits the user to five different name/address permutations per account. I have seven listed already at Catalog Choice.

    • DMA conceals its member directory. As a user, I’d greatly prefer to opt out of catalogs individually, but I’m not going to waste my time and energy entering dozens of requests without knowing whether DMA can even do anything about them. Catalog Choice tells me immediately if a catalog isn’t in the database, and they offer to send me an e-mail when they’ve added that merchant.

    • Before allowing a global opt-out request, DMA sends the user to a warning page, attempting to change the user’s mind. I found the wording hilariously dire, and I don’t think DMA understands the audience to whom they’re speaking. I do all my local shopping by foot, and generally at mom-and-pop places—I don’t drive to the mall. I also have totally ceased impulse shopping via paper catalogs—the vast majority that I receive go straight to the recycling bin, unopened. I do occasionally visit a merchant’s website after receiving an e-mailed sales notice. My computer runs on wind power, incidentally, as does the rest of my household.

    Anyhow, that’s my perspective as a layperson who's trying to eliminate the excess catalogs in my mailbox. Even though I had already signed up with DMA (for the second time) a year or so ago, this was the worst season ever. I was getting four to six pounds of junk mail every week in November (yes, I actually weighed it). Over 40 catalogs came from merchants with whom I’ve never placed an order. The prospecting was also more bizarre than it’s ever been. For example, I'm almost 39 and childfree, yet I received my first-ever catalog for maternity wear. I've never ordered a single maternity item from anywhere. Or baby clothes or baby toys, for that matter. I can't imagine what they were thinking.

    On a more positive note, I enjoy the discussion on your blog, Kevin, and I just want to thank you for writing so clearly and helpfully. Although I’m not in the business and know very little about it, your analyses generally ring true with my experience and perspective as a consumer.


Also just wanted to note (in reference to another of your posts) that I love Zappos. I spent over $500 there in 2007. The only other place where I spent as much was a parrot supply store. We've severely reduced our consumer goods expenditures this year, but I'll still likely spend at least $100-$300 in 2008 on an additional pair of shoes at Zappos. It's worth mentioning, perhaps, that neither Zappos nor the parrot store have ever sent us a paper catalog.

    Thanks again for your insights, and good luck on your presentation at the upcoming executive forum.

  7. Thanks for posting your experiences, Tracy.

    We'll see how my industry responds to these challenges, it should be interesting!

  8. Anonymous8:02 PM

    There is no way I, a consumer, and frequent online shopper will be giving my credit card number to the DMA. Why would I ever think that is a good idea.

    If the DMA had ever once tried using Catalog Choice, the DMA would not compare a free service requiring only name and address to one requiring credit card information. You can be certain that any consumer with at least average IQ will have no difficulty spotting the more secure, safe and quick option.

    There is no way to justify making a request for credit card information to remove a consumer from a list s/he doesn't wish to be on.

    If I don't want your catalog, why do you want to alienate me further by insisting on sending it to me and making it unnecessarily difficult for me to request that you stop?

    You aren't just damaging my interest in your products, you are hurting the earth.

    Just say no to the DMA's refusal to accept consumer preferences!

  9. Anonymous3:23 PM

    A second, or third, confirmation of how DMA's need for a credit card number keeps me from using them and simply adds to my frustration with the piles of junk coming into my mailbox.

    After all the nightmare identity theft problems from companies with 'secure' data (Countrywide, etc.) putting this info into one more dbase - even temporarily - is either supreme idiocy or extremely naive.

    Just my quick thoughts as a focused consumer with little time to wade through piles of random stuff.


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