Catalogers Advised on Re-Mailing, Merchandise, Page Count

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ORLANDO, FL -- Charlie Silver opened his session at the Direct Marketing Association's 86th Annual Conference and Exhibition here yesterday with some basic guidance: Send a re-mail to your best customers.

"If you have 50,000 12-month customers that are getting you $4 a catalog, the re-mail will generally get you $2.50 to $3 a catalog," said Silver, vice president of marketing at Bloomingdale's Direct.

He was among the speakers at the "50 Ideas in 50 Minutes: Catalog Circulation and Database" session.

Direct marketing consultant Michael I. Grant added that "your best customers can generally withstand one more contact and ... your worst customers can generally withstand one less contact."

Silver also advised attendees to raise the percentage of fresh merchandise.

"You need to really work with your merchandise group to make sure that you've got the ability to source the merchandise," he said. "You can increase response rates and demand per catalog 10, 20 [or] 30 percent, depending on the situation."

Grant also suggested an increase in page count to produce a boost in productivity as he discussed his "50 percent" rule: For every 1 percent rise in pages you can expect a corresponding 0.5 percent increase in demand per catalog. However, he said, the rule may not work at low or high page counts.

"At low page counts you should expect and could get much greater productivity than the 50 percent rule," he said. "Similarly, when you're at very large page counts, you have to be very careful in that you don't assume that you're going to get 50 percent for every page that you add."

Silver mentioned a point he called almost a no-brainer.

"If you have a 20- or 30-page catalog, generally you're under the weight of 3.3 ounces, and so you can go up to probably a 40- or 50-page catalog, depending on your paper weight, and not pay any more in postage," he said.

He placed postage around 40 percent of the cost of putting a catalog in the mail.

"In essence," he said, "those extra pages only need to be about 60 percent as productive as the main pages to do as well because you're getting a free ride on postage."


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