Here are the direct mail pieces I received this week in my mailbox, both as a customer and a prospect, along with anything interesting to note: - Garnet Hill- (Mailed as a customer) Entire opening spread dedicated to one product, supported by lifestyle ...

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"Directly Speaking" - 5 new articles

  1. In My Mailbox This Week
  2. The Cost of Shipping
  3. Popular Initiatives for 2010
  4. Fall Catalogs That Stand Out
  5. On to More Interesting Things
  6. More Recent Articles

In My Mailbox This Week

Here are the direct mail pieces I received this week in my mailbox, both as a customer and a prospect, along with anything interesting to note:

  • Garnet Hill- (Mailed as a customer) Entire opening spread dedicated to one product, supported by lifestyle photography, detail shots, and a brand message
  • Sundance- (Mailed as a customer) Opens with home product, featuring three pitchers and a dining table; most notable is the 8-page spread in the back featuring swimwear plus the continued move towards fashion-forward styling
  • Bevmo- (Very appropriate for those of you who know me well) Folded direct mail piece featuring their 5 cent sale- buy one wine, get the second for 5 cents!
  • Huggies- 10 page mailer with coupons (I read somewhere that you change nine thousand diapers in the first year with twins)
  • Boden- 172 page catalog in a small format size, featuring 15% plus free shipping and returns on a cover dot whack plus opening spread fold-out (no product on cover)
  • Grandinroad- Emphasis on “Get the Look” with more editorial content and price call-outs; free shipping on wall décor
  • Ballard Designs- Received two “Early Spring 2010” catalogs with different covers; one as a prospect and a second in an envelope with a thank you message (received as a hotline new buyer)
  • Champion- Received this catalog as a prospect, featuring sports bra sale (new catalog for me); high product density and promotional creative (featured men’s and women’s product); I suspect I received this catalog because I made a recent purchase with Athleta
  • Received this catalog as a prospect; “Best bra sale ever”
  • Justice- Postcard featuring 40% entire store for 5 days only; I suspect I received this postcard because I bought a gift card for my niece


The Cost of Shipping

It really does boil down to shipping. After all the hours and dollars spent building and optimizing the business, don't forget to consider your shipping tables.

I receive multiple catalogs from home decor and furnishings retailers, and I enjoy looking through them. I recently purchased a new desk for my home office and thought I would share with you my amazing experience with shipping and handling.

I went online to order the desk I'd picked out, and when I went to check out the cart said that shipping was $322. I found that hard to believe, so I then called the 800-number and this was in fact the correct charge. This seemed ridiculously high, so I then went to purchase another desk online via another catalog. This time shipping was $39. The desk was the same size and very similar- with the same expected time frame for shipping (2-4 weeks).

Have you reviewed your competitor's shipping tables lately?

Popular Initiatives for 2010

I am a terrific example of how not to use social media- i.e. sporadically. Fortunately, the reason for this is that we have been exceptionally busy with budgeting and planning for 2010- what looks to be a promising year by both economic measures and early feedback from dozens of clients. Here are the big items that seem to be on everyone's mind as we rally to build business back up:
  • Acquiring new customers- increasing marketing spend back to 12-month payback period
  • Ramping up their 12 month active file (including new, retained, and reactivated)
  • Returning to growth mode - many private companies are striving for double digit growth
  • Building a plan to stand out - from offering a unique experience to overhauling merchandise strategies and creative
  • Finding the right balance of online marketing and direct mail
  • Understanding the right social media strategy for their brand/target customer

Within the online space, several additional topics continue to get a lot of attention: paid search (still tackling incrementality), re-targeting programs, customer reviews, and email prospecting. We are constantly looking for new opportunities and will be sure to share the outcome of our innovation workshop in early March in San Francisco.

Fall Catalogs That Stand Out

Here is a list of some of the great call-outs from the early fall books.

Innovative Merchandising Partnerships to Note:
Grandinroad and Martha Stewart
Pottery Barn Kids and Barbie

Impressive Brand Endorsement to Note:
House Beautiful and Ballard Designs

New Creative to Note:
Restoration Hardware’s Worldly Design
Anthropologie’s fall look and feel

Entirely New Merchandise and Creative!
Check out the latest Sundance catalog

On a side note, I have received a whole stack of catalogs this week- the week leading into Labor Day weekend. We'll see how this mail date strategy works!

On to More Interesting Things

Over the past few months, we have all heard the same story again and again about the economy. We are going to assume we are on the upswing, given all of the positive economic indicators, and stop talking about something we have all talked about ad nauseum!

So, on to more interesting things! Over the last few months, hot topics seems to include customer retention programs, 12 month file sizes, page count and contact strategies, 2009 holiday promotions, email list rental, and social marketing.

A few thoughts to get us started!

A few of you have asked about the timing of your sale books this holiday/winter season. We polled some mailers and the consensus is to go in-home with the earlier date for both house and prospects. If you mail prospects later you run into sell out situations which do not make for a good first impression. Industry reports are also indicating that more people will be home for the holidays and that holiday travel the week between Christmas and New Years will be down.

We are also interested in some of the latest customer reactivation strategies that include following up a catalog mailing with a postcard or letter the same week with a special reactivation offer. With the additional cost of the second contact and the cost of the promotion, the big question is whether this is still more effective than your marginal prospecting efforts.

Lastly, how is early fall trending for everyone?

In our next blog, we will post the most popular promotions from last September.

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