Are They Really a Web Buyer?

When catalogs first accepted orders over the web, catalogers were mystified as to who these buyers were. I remember going to a conference where the owners of the Music Stand catalog said that whenever they mailed their catalog, web orders increased. People in the audience were literally shaking their heads in disbelief at this revelation.

This was followed by tests by catalogs putting their URL on the front cover, vs. not. Catalogers were afraid that if they encouraged people to order online, it would hurt response. Why? They rationalized that a good catalog shopper would pick up the phone and call in their order right now, but if you encouraged them to order on the web, they would wait until the next time they were sitting at their desk – probably at work – to place their order. This opportunity for procrastination would simply result in too many lost sales, or worse, the customer might have the audacity to search on someone else’s website for the same product.

Of course times have changed.

But there is one stronghold in “old school thinking” to which many of you are holding on to – classifying all buyers that order over the web as being a “web buyer”, and treating them all the same.

Many mailers – and this includes many Datamann clients – segment their database by customers who have mailed or phoned in their order (catalog buyers) from those that have used the internet (web buyers).

But I’ll use myself as an example of a catalog consumer.  I never use my smartphone to shop or browse the internet. I often go to Amazon and eBay when I think of something I want to buy. But even when I’m on my laptop, I rarely “browse” any catalog websites.  I still need a catalog to prompt my attention as a consumer. But, with the exception of the Edward R. Hamilton book catalog, I have not called in or mailed in an order in at least 10 years. I place all my orders with catalog companies online. I still see myself as a classic catalog shopper. But according to most mailers, I’m a web buyer.

Why does this make a difference?

If you are segmenting your file by catalog and web buyers as described above, you have probably found that on a segment by segment, or even name by name basis, the web buyers do not perform as well when mailed a catalog as a similar catalog segment.

But, your matchback – and let’s assume you are doing your matchback fairly and accurately – shows that 70% of your “web buyers” were mailed a catalog within the past 30 days of their online order. Let’s further assume that none of these customers came to your website via PPC, SEO or an affiliate. They simply received your catalog and ordered online.

To me, that makes them a catalog shopper. And if you isolate those names, you will see that they compare very closely in performance when mailed a catalog to the “catalog” names in equal segments.

What should you do?

Let’s not get into a giant discussion of matchback funnels and allocations. Let’s just assume that your matchback process is fair and accurate, and that it is not overstating or understating the impact of the catalog. Therefore, any web buyer that matches a mail file in the matchback process according to your matchback business rules, and clearly has no other online activity associated to it (such as retargeting), should be considered a catalog buyer.

At this point, you can reclassify your database by moving these web buyers into the catalog buyers channel. This will strengthen your circulation planning by combining all of the like performing catalog names together, regardless of which channel their last order occurred. It also isolates the remaining “pure” web buyers – those buyers that found you without aid of a catalog – allowing you to segment and mail them differently in the future.

However, we recommend “flagging” these catalog buyers (or even putting them in their own “channel” on your database) that have previously purchased on the web as their performance, for most mailers, will differ from those that have purely ordered via mail/phone.   You may be able to mail these customers a smaller page catalog, or even flyers in the future, that generate the same profit as mailing them a full size catalog. This becomes part of your catalog circulation testing.

Further, you will probably find that the remaining “pure web buyers” don’t respond to a catalog at all.

The point is that you should segment your customers based on their source (catalog mailing, PPC, SEO), not on the channel in which they order.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235

blapierre@datamann.com

 

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Summer Postcards

This requires a new mindset – one that forces you to change and adapt. If you can’t – or won’t – well…..

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’ve been receiving a number of new catalogs I’ve never seen before, but the most intriguing pieces of mail that my wife and I have been receiving this summer are postcards and mini-catalogs from various retailers/catalogers.

Are postcards a new concept? Not really – retailers have used them for years to announce special events, like the Annual Tent Sale (free hot dogs and ice cream at Noon, but remember, please don’t park in the road – there is plenty of extra parking behind building number 4 at the far end of the warehouse).

The 2016 crop of postcards is much different. I have received many from pure play websites who are using them to prospect. Yes, prospect with a postcard. They make no effort to show you a huge assortment of products. They don’t have a dot-whack proclaiming “visit our website and see our 300 new products”. They simply showcase a handful of products with the implied understanding that a wider assortment exists on-line. That “.com” that is part of their name is the clue that I need to go to their website to order since there is no phone number or order form attached.

Hayneedle-Postcard

Wayfair-Postcard

Both of these examples were more than a simple front and back postcard; they were multi-panel pieces, sealed with printer’s glue – but the average consumer would say these were a postcard.

The ultimate example of a postcard to drive traffic to a website is the one below from Amazon. We are Amazon Prime members, so we obviously know the site. But Amazon wanted to make absolutely certain that my wife knew that Amazon sold “fashion”.

Amazon-Fashion-PC-Front

Amazon-Fashion-PC-Back

My wife has also been receiving many “mini-catalogs”, which I define as being slim-jim in dimension, but having only 4 to 8 pages. Again, these pieces don’t show a huge assortment. But if you are already familiar with the brand, as she is with Cabela’s (below), she just needs a reminder to check out their website, or increasingly, their mobile site.

Cabela's-Mini-Front

I’ve seen these types of postcards perform well for Datamann clients. But in general, I see them mailed to the house file only; both prior catalog buyers and prior internet buyers.

Most of you have already determined that it is pointless to mail your catalog to customers who have purchased your goods on Amazon, as these buyers simply don’t respond. But, you will find it is an increasingly losing battle when you mail your catalog to buyers that came to your site via SEO, PPC, etc., as their response is so much lower than a traditional “catalog” buyer.  These are not catalog buyers. They will not respond like catalog buyers.  In my opinion, these are the buyers to whom you should be sending a postcard reminding them of your existence.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating – most of you are reluctant to do this because:

  • You believe you can “win-over” the web shopper by sending them your catalog;
  • You don’t think your website is as strong as your catalog – and you are probably correct, as many of you still have weak websites;
  • You still have that mentality that the postage for a postcard or mini-catalog is so high, why not send a catalog with, say 24 or even 48 pages.

Sixteen years ago, when my now teenage son was born, I took tons of photographs of him and framed them for hanging in our house. I bought many of the frames from the catalog below, which also has a “.com” as part of its name.  For years, I continued to get monthly catalogs from them, but they slowly diminished in quantity to where I was not receiving any by around 2012.

Picture-Frames-.com-Cover

Then last year, I went online, and bought a new frame for a special photo. And BANG – I started getting a 76 page catalog from them every month. And the ironic thing is – there are not a lot of “new” products in the world of picture frames. I don’t need to keep getting this catalog every month – I don’t think about replacing my existing picture frames with new ones. Plus, they can see from past purchases, I have only purchased a few different styles of frames – so why keep sending me this 76 page catalog? Well, the reason is that I’m sure their RFM segmentation indicates it is still profitable to mail me and the other 2,876 names in my RFM segment. But could it be even more profitable if they mailed me a postcard every other month?

The biggest problem I see with most of you testing a postcard or mini-catalog is inertia. You can’t find the time to create a small postcard, so you mail a 48 page catalog instead.

2016 is half over. Set up a few alternative catalog circulation tests before the year is out to determine how you can reduce your dependence on full catalogs. Segment the known catalog buyers from the known internet buyers and mail them differently. Have some hold out panels too. But test something!

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235

blapierre@datamann.com

 

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Bill’s 8 “Irrefutable” Rules for Catalog Covers

I usually don’t write articles that offer tips, like the “five ways to increase email response this holiday”. But since this is a vacation week for many of you, I wanted to do something different.

I’m going to address a question about catalog covers posed by a client two weeks ago after my posting on merchandise analysis. Yes, there are a ton of problems facing catalogs – but you still have to drive response as best you can, and so many of you miss the opportunity to do that with your covers.

The client’s question was this: “We’ve been trying to plan and analyze our catalog cover products and the performance impact they have on the entire mailing. Obviously there are other factors involved with a catalog’s success, but we’ve been putting together data to try and draw conclusions on the best cover items for each of our catalogs. Do you have any insights on the best metrics to use to gauge cover item performance?”

Oh, I love it when readers ask me questions like this! I’ve spent 25 years critiquing catalog covers, and I believe that most mailers get it all wrong with covers, largely because they put no effort into them. With many of you racing the clock to get your fall and holiday catalogs completed, here are my eight irrefutable rules for having a responsive cover.

  1. Stop treating the cover as an after-thought: I know that in most companies, the decision as to what product goes on the cover is made at the last minute, literally as the print files are due at the printer. Moreover, companies that wait until the last minute usually end up picking cover items simply on the basis of those products for which they have a good photo. They don’t put enough thought or effort into the process, and certainly have no “strategy” to use the cover to drive sales.   The best catalogs I’ve worked with pick the cover items at the time of pagination, and the photographers produce specific “cover” shots of the product/products.
  1. Stop wasting time on meaningless “creative” cover tests: I’ve seen hundreds of cover tests over the years, but they are almost always aimed at testing “creative” treatments on the cover, not product. Not only are these tests a huge waste of everyone’s time, but they almost never result in a difference in response between the two “creative versions”. When I worked at Brookstone, our creative director was absolutely convinced that changing the name of the Brookstone catalog from Hard-To-Find Tools to Brookstone at Home would have a huge impact on response – yet it made no difference. And we spent days arguing, constructing and fine-tuning this!

Brookstone-At-Home-Test

  1. If you are going to test covers, think about the long term: Look at the two covers below from Paragon. They were obviously testing whether a model made a difference to response. I don’t know the outcome of the test, but since I received subsequent Paragon mailings with models on the cover, my guess is that they proved – for their customers – that having a model helped response. Was it worth the test? Probably. Why? Because the result was actionable, and was something that could be repeated.

Paragon-Covers

So often I see elaborate cover tests which produce results that are meaningless, because they can’t be repeated in the future.

  1. Covers should feature and focus on products: That statement seems so obvious, but go back to Rule #1 – most cover products are picked on the basis of those for which you have a good photo. Covers are tough to merchandize, especially when you are mailing monthly. But the products selected should be a seasonally appropriate reflection of what is in the catalog – it is your best chance to get the customer inside the book. The inclination is to always pick “safe” products, those for which you have strong sales records, and which will not pose an inventory problem. However, playing it safe invariably leads to boring covers. I believe that cover items should include a mix of existing and new products, especially those for which you have an exclusive. And no matter what you pick for the current cover, and no matter how well it does, remember that if you are mailing monthly, you have the chance to do it all over again in 30 days.

And let’s be frank, if you are an iconic brand like LL Bean, you can get away with putting a painting of a moose or Christmas tree on the cover. Most of you don’t have that luxury. You are not a lifestyle brand – your catalog exists to sell stuff. So don’t go and get artsy – focus on product!

  1. Put your best products in the hot spots – front and back covers: From a performance standpoint, if you pick the right product, you should see sales of that item be 200% higher than if it were not on the cover, and the other products on the spread where the cover item appears should perform about 20% to 50% higher. Now you see the importance of spending tome on getting your cover products rights, and why you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to think about them.

I’m sure you all have a story like this. My boss at Brookstone was out the day we needed to pick a cover product for the main drop of the Holiday catalog. We had waited to the last minute. The head merchant was gone too. The Creative Director came to me. We had introduced a personalized crock in the summer catalog that was doing very well – so I picked that. It sold great. As a matter of fact, it sold too well. Being a piece of pottery, it needed to be “fired” in a kiln. Being personalized, each one had to be individually made. Plus, the same vendor was selling to Plow & Hearth, Sporty’s and Improvements – all of which had featured the crock in their holiday catalogs as well. It took months to get caught up on manufacturing and shipping these things out to some very annoyed customers. As I recall, I was not allowed to pick cover items after that.

  1. When less is better: Most hard goods mailers routinely test a single product vs. several products on the cover. The thought behind having multiple products is that it shows the depth of your product assortment.  However, most of the testing I’ve seen indicates that a single product cover is always stronger. That then raises the question – how do I pick that right/best single product for the cover? The rule of thumb I use is this – a good cover product  should be seasonally appropriate, should be close to your average order in price (if your AO is $75, the best cover items will be $65 to $85), be visually appealing, and have some unique feature that you can call out on the cover.  I also believe that the cover item should be repeated on the inside front spread (pages 2/3).
  1. Have different covers for House and Prospects: You are missing a huge opportunity if you are not creating separate covers for prospects and your existing customers. The prospect covers should feature existing products which have proven popular with other first time buyers. But don’t make the mistake of using the same product repeatedly because the vast majority of your prospects have received your catalog numerous times before. Existing customers want to see new products – the shiny new object. The cover product to your house file should have a higher price point than the one to the prospect lists – but focus more on having a “compelling” product than one at the “right” price.
  1. Mix it up: My last rule for covers – if you change your cover strategy to be something different from what it is now, don’t allow yourself to fall into a rut. If you decide on doing single product covers – mix it up and every fourth cover, have multiple products. If you decide to always use a model on the cover, every fifth cover should have no model. Don’t become predictable. Make your customer say “Oh, I like this catalog. I wonder what’s new?”

These rules are irrefutable because they have been proven out numerous times, and they are simply common sense. They drive response, and that is what you all need now.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235

blapierre@datamann.com

 

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Who Is Going to Invest Here?

Here are three examples of investments in the future.

  • I want to tip my hat to Orvis for being a corporate sponsor of the VT/NH Marketing Group. Although the two state area is home to many catalogs, Orvis is one of the largest, and feels that it is part of their responsibility to the future of the industry to support the VT/NH Marketing Group. They also feel it is important to be “putting something back into the community”. They could leave it up to the printers, co-ops and companies like Datamann to support the group. But Orvis – a mailer and not a vendor – recognizes that they need to ensure there will be future marketers, with new and different skills from today’s “catalogers”.
  • Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall developer, is investing venture funding into new retail concepts. Simon, which owns and operates 200 malls, had sales last year of almost $5 billion. In the past 15 months, they have funded 18 new start-up retailers, ranging from $250,000 to $5 million. The reason they are doing so is obvious – they are looking for future tenets in their malls, and are looking for new and innovative concepts. They are investing in their future.
  • The little town of Groveton NH (population 1,100) has been suffering with chronic unemployment since their main employer – a paper mill – closed in 2007. This past March, residents voted at the their annual town meeting to borrow $400,000 to install public sewage and water lines in the hope that new businesses will locate there – and bring tax money and jobs. The $400,000 sum may not seem like much to some of you, but that is a huge sum, and a huge risk, for a tiny town only an hour’s drive from the Quebec border.

These are three examples of investments in the future – two by companies, one by a municipality – that we seldom encounter in the catalog arena. And I’m not talking about a printer or a co-op database investing in some new catalog start-up (which never happens anyway). I’m talking about your own internal investment, seeking new ways of operating your own business.

As you finalize your plans for Fall/Holiday 2016, what percentage of your marketing budget did you allocate to “new concept testing”? This doesn’t mean testing down to segment 12 of your favorite co-ops’ synergy model, or adding Facebook to your retargeting ads.  This means testing the acquisition of new customers in an entirely new media, without aid of your catalog, such as putting a video link on your home page.

Here is an even better investment – have you done a holdout test yet on your house file to determine what percent of your customers order without aid of the catalog?  Do you realize the potential profits that would fall to your bottom line if you could eliminate 25% of your catalog circulation, with a 5% loss in sales? Oh, I know, you don’t want to risk running that test because you need every dollar of sales you can get this year. But, holdout tests are the best investment in your future you can make.

I’m not looking for you to commit much to new concept testing. But would 10% be a reasonable amount to allocate to securing your future? Come on – test something new this year. You know there is no dearth of companies willing to take your money to test their new concept. Good luck.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235

blapierre@datamann.com

 

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Carry The Message Through

This is where falling in love with our catalogs gets us into trouble.

Pictured below are 3 Eddie Bauer covers I received this past week. The one on the top was sent to my wife, a regular Eddie Bauer shopper. The two below that were prospect catalogs sent to my decoy names.

EB-09-2015-3-covers

Personally, I think the cover on the top is pretty lame for a customer cover. You have to study it pretty hard to realize that there is a snow-capped mountain in the background. But someone, somewhere in the depths of the Eddie Bauer organization “loved” it, so there it is. Yes, it features a product – half the space on the cover is the parka. But is it aspirational? Does it drive response? Not really.

It’s the other two covers to which I want to draw your attention. I love the one showing the snowstorm and highway sign. To me, this communicates to a consumer why they need to think about replacing their winter coat this year. This most likely was NOT a planned shot by an Eddie Bauer photographer. And someone at EB liked it enough to make it the inside spread as well (see below).

EB-09-2015-Inside-Spread

But, more important, it is actually a wrap around the cover to its right. That’s correct, underneath the cover page of the catalog with the snowstorm (above) is the same cover seen to its right. Maybe someone felt the photo of the guy with one foot on the ice was a weak cover (I do!).  Maybe some Creative Director thought that showing snow was better than a frozen lake. At any rate, EB appears to be testing whether adding a four page wrap, that adds no additional products for sale, (just some editorial content on the fact that winter is coming  – which we already knew) will pull better than the guy on the ice. Moreover, with two covers, that just doubled their non-selling cover space with the version in the center.

This may not be the best test I’ve seen, and may not be the best use of an extra four pages, but this is NOT what concerns me the most about the EB catalogs.

Each cover carries a promotional offer – 25% off for customers, and 30% off for prospects, plus free shipping. But with the exception of also mentioning the 30% off on the back of the snow cover (see below), these offers appear nowhere else in the catalog.

EB-09-2015-Back-COver

An offer of 30% off is a fairly big deal – or at least it used to be. The purpose in offering it is to drive response, generate orders, acquire new customers. Wouldn’t you therefore want to make sure people knew you were making this offer? Isn’t that part of a sound catalog circulation plan, and catalog survival strategy? With all of the effort spent on all of these creative strategies and cover wraps, wouldn’t you want to maximize the impact of your offer?

Because we love our catalogs so much, we think that consumers do too, and that they notice every little nuance on the cover or inkjet message. We believe they are drawn to flip through the catalog because of who we are, the exquisite cover photo, and the subtle discount offer at the bottom of the cover.  And because they are such smart consumers, and because they love us so much, they will keep that “30 % discount” on their mind as they flip through the pages.  That’s the equivalent of passing an 8 by 10 inch sign on the way into the supermarket that says “30% off today” and expecting people will remember that point by the time they have made it to the 3rd aisle, if they noticed the sign at all.

If you are trying to drive response, why not call out the offer – whatever the offer is – on EVERY PAGE?  If the offer is a discount, why not put a slash through the regular price and show the discount price? Don’t be afraid to sell!!  

This is a catalog that has at most a three week life span. More than 90% of them will get thrown in the trash or recycling the first day they are received. Of the remaining ten percent that get looked at, why wouldn’t you want to make absolutely certain that everyone knew you were offering 30% off plus free shipping?

Many of you are finalizing holiday books this week – I know because you keep sending me PDF files to review. If you really want to drive response, tell the Creative Director that yes, putting your free shipping offer in a bright red hexagon shaped STOP sign on the front cover, and each subsequent page might “destroy the visual integrity and aesthetics” of the piece. But ask them if they want to be pure, or be rich? Stop loving your catalog and start loving profits, and carry the offer message through the whole book.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235

blapierre@datamann.com

 

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The Little Things

My father always said that it was the little things that get you. I can hear him saying “You can spend a lot of time getting the big things right, but some little screw up down the line will cost you time, money and a lot of aggravation, and erase all of the other things you did right.”

I’m going to give you two recent examples of this phenomena that are applicable to everyone, one of which is directly related to cataloging, and the other is tied to customer acquisition.

The Catalog Example

Two weeks ago, one of my subscribers sent me a very long and thoughtful email about an experience he had had the day before with a nationally known catalog company. This is not a lesson about good or bad customer service. It is how we forget the most basic tenet of cataloging – and sales in general. We forget to put a human touch on getting a response.

The company he ordered from is upscale, and I will leave their identity at that. He ordered a sweater and vest for $267. (“A lot for a sweater and a vest, but at my age they will probably see me out”).  Knowing a little about the company, that amount is slightly higher than their average order.

But when the reader went to check out, he found the shipping and handling was $19.95, which for him was a deal breaker. His comment was most insightful “I know the ins and outs of many businesses but at the end of the day it comes down to price based on what the market (me) is willing to pay. We’re all trying to get that right. Which audience will pay what for what? I was not willing.”

In the catalog world, we all have an average order. For some catalogs it is $50, for others it is $500. For those with a $50 average order, a “high end” buyer might be someone who spends $125, which might be a low end buyer to the catalog with the $500 average order.  When we offer incentives to push the average order up, and increase response, most catalogers tend to focus on getting the tier of customers just below the average to move up.  Get the $40 order to move up to $50 by offering free shipping over $50. We construct all kinds of A/B tests to validate whether this works.

The problem is that we don’t evaluate what is happening with our best customers – that top 20%, who are spending in amounts way over our average order. We assume that because they can afford to spend lots of money on our stuff, that they will not have that momentary pause at check out when they see the shipping and handling fee.

I’m not a big fan of promotions, especially free shipping if you are a hard goods company shipping heavy items like cast-iron cookware. But, offering free shipping – especially in apparel and soft goods – to customer spending 25% over (not under) – your average order threshold probably makes sense. At least it ought to be tested. Take a look at how much your big spenders contribute to your bottom line and you will see why you need to keep them from jumping to competitors.

Here’s the punchline on this whole episode. The reader that sent me this note saw that the cataloger had “live chat” on their website. His comment: “My experience is that companies that engage in the live chat option and all the costs associated with it train their people well.  The CSR I engaged with was acting like an owner. She immediately offered me a free shipping code and explained how I was to use it in the checkout process. Sale made, {the catalog} wins though with a bit less profit and the customer gets what he wants.”

So, is this how we are all going to be trained to deal with catalogs in the future, that if you take the time to complain, you get a discount or get free shipping?  When did we stop thinking about the nature of the customer’s experience with us as a company? Stop focusing on the results of some A/B shipping test and think about your customer as a human with emotions that need to be addressed to get a response.

The Non-Catalog Experience

With the exception of readers living in Iowa, those of you in the other 48 states have no idea what it is like to live in New Hampshire in the months leading up to the presidential primary every four years. The candidates are everywhere. Literally.  And it is especially true this year with so many candidates on both sides running.

It is particularly fun to watch how humble these candidates can look, when they are accustomed to speaking to large crowds in their own home state, and they come here to speak to a crowd of 12 supporters at some road side maple sugar house.

My political persuasion is of no consequence to this blog, and hopefully you will never be able to detect what it is, although I will say I’m registered in NH as an “Undeclared” voter. But last week, I received a postcard announcing a presentation by one of the candidates that I was somewhat interested in hearing, which was to take place in Keene, our county seat, and which is a fairly big city by NH standards. There was a unique URL on the postcard at which to register, along with a phone number. That night, I saw in our local newspaper an announcement that this candidate would also be speaking the following morning in my little home town.

Only it wasn’t listed correctly in the newspaper. It said the candidate would be at a restaurant in our town (we only have one), but it stated the location of the restaurant as being in the next town over from us. I was willing to overlook this NH geography faux pas since we don’t get many candidates stopping in our town (population 1,100).

I definitely decided to go hear the candidate. I used the URL on the postcard to register, but it was only valid for the appearance in Keene. So, I called the phone number. I was already to hang up on the 6th ring, when finally a campaign volunteer answered. He must have been speaking on a 1990’s vintage cell phone via Skype, or some equivalent, because I would have had a clearer connection if I had been talking with Buzz Aldrin on the far side of the moon. I could barely hear or understand him, which is not a good way to impress voters.

The phone number I called was unique to registration for the event in Keene. He asked for my email address so he could send me a free ticket, but when I told him I wanted to attend the event in my home town, he said registration was not necessary. I pointed out to him that the newspaper had the wrong town listed for the restaurant location, which did not seem to pique his interest.

On the morning of the event, our one TV station in the state was reading its daily listing of which candidates would be where that day, and it announced that this candidate would be at Audrey’s Restaurant (which was correct), but gave the location as being in a town with a slightly similar name, on the opposite side of the state.

It’s the little things that get you, the little screw ups.

This candidate is focused on big issues – the economy, taxes, ISIS, etc. But the candidate’s campaign staff, which probably has not even left their home state to even set foot in NH, is making no effort to help the candidate locally.  They had me on the phone. They asked for my email address, but because they did not need to send me a registration, I doubt the volunteer took my email address down, as I have received no follow up communication from the candidate.

I ultimately decide not to go hear the candidate that morning. My feeling was if their campaign was that screwed up, they had no chance of winning. I predict this candidate will drop out of the campaign the second week of March.

This is no different than the catalog that has great merchandise, great creative, and fantastic marketing, but lousy inventory planning or lousy customer service that drive customers away.

A Good Program:

If you missed this announcement in Kevin Hillstrom’s blog last week about his new benchmarking program, check it out. MineThatData Elite Productivity Index

I think this is a great idea. When I worked at Millard Group, one of our competitors had a report they issued to clients where they took the monthly percent that mailers were above or below plan, and averaged them together. So if ten tiny mailers reported they were 5% above plan, and one giant mailer said they were 30% below plan, that company reported that on average, mailers were 4% above plan.   The folks at Millard always wanted me to issue a similar report, and I had to explain that you could not average the results of LL Bean and Lands’ End with some of our tiny clients, especially if all we were getting from the client was “percent” above or below plan.

Kevin’s report removes much of that size bias when comparing your performance against others in the industry. It will also be an incredibly useful tool to measure your own merchandise performance.

And no, Datamann does not receive any commission from Kevin if you sign up for this program. We simply think Kevin’s a wicked smart guy, who is developing valuable programs for the catalog industry (which includes our clients). And we want to see this succeed.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235

blapierre@datamann.com

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