April 25, 2010

Dear Catalog CEOs: Quick Tips

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Often, I receive e-mails that sound something like this ...

"Kevin, your blog is great, I really appreciate your thoughts. Say, could you provide me with three or four free tips that will get my business moving forward, just a few things that I could implement tomorrow morning that will immediately work? Thanks for the feedback."

Let's assume that life works that easily, that there are three or four topics that can immediately improve business, tips that are freely available. What might those tips be?

Tip: Page counts are getting smaller. Now that your website is your dominant channel, test how small your catalogs can be. The goal of a catalog is to drive the customer online to buy merchandise, your full assortment is online, so why destroy the planet with 148 pages when you can get away with 80 pages or 64 pages?

Tip: The first twenty pages of your catalog mean everything. Why waste time using the first twenty pages as a branding tool?

Tip: Measure order starters. Identify the items that cause orders to start. Capitalize on those items by merchandising the first twenty pages of your catalog with them, merchandise your prospect mailings with these items.

Tip: Stop sending remail catalogs, create new catalogs instead. You operate in an era where the customer gets information immediately, on demand. You want to send the same catalog you sent five weeks ago?

Tip: Stop matching e-mail orders back to catalogs. More than half the time when I analyze the results of mail/holdout tests, e-mail productivity increases when catalogs are not mailed. Just think about the implications of that one for a moment.

Tip: Identify the customers who have moved on from old-school catalog marketing, and stop mailing catalogs to them. To these customers, print is dead.

Tip: Any catalog brand not executing mail/holdout testing to quantify the true incremental value of a catalog is blindly praying for good catalog performance.

Tip: Any catalog brand not executing frequency testing in catalog marketing or e-mail marketing is blindly praying for good catalog performance.

Tip: Any catalog brand not thoroughly exploring online customer acquisition opportunities is blindly praying for good performance.

Tip: Pay close attention to the relationship between print and search. I mean, pay REALLY close attention to this relationship.

Tip: Make knowing the "organic percentage", the percentage of demand that still exists without mailing any catalogs, the number one metric your analytics team measures.

Tip: Catalog customers are rural customers. The psychology of your advertising changes when you understand that catalog customers are predominantly rural customers.

So, there, those are a few free tips. Apply those to your business, and I'm confident that you will see profit improvements of 10% to 50%. Sound good? And the tips are free, for crying out loud. Just use them!


  1. Thanks for sharing. The tips you gave are spot on. As a leader of a company you have got to keep with it, be liquid, and move with the world around you. Thanks, I think we can all gain from this!

  2. ya really your blog is nice and thank you for sharing some tips with us... These would be a great for new ones....


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