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Denny's Daily Zinger: Are Print Catalogs Dead? No!

April 25, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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Have a look at the photo to see the cover of ULINE's Spring/Summer 2014 catalog—628 pages offering "over 29,000 packaging, shipping, industrial and janitorial products, ready to ship today."

My guess: It cost $2 in the mail.

I do not believe I have ever placed a single order with Uline, and yet I have been receiving these behemoths for more than 30 years.

The obvious conclusion: Uline's accountants use an abacus.

The Mantra of Print Catalogs
By the turn of the 20th century, the Sears Roebuck catalog put a giant department store on the bookshelves of millions of hinterland homes.

Fast forward to 2014 and the mantra is, "Why print a catalog when everything is available online?"

According The Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Holmes, catalog mailings are increasing. The reason: "Shoppers spend more online after browsing through lavish print spreads."

The Old Rules Still Apply

  • Send print catalogs.
  • Make it easy to order—by mail, online or phone.
  • Track customers.
  • Track orders by source.
  • Recency, frequency, monetary value (RFM) are the measurements.
  • Divide your customers into quintiles. Q#1 is your best customers; mail them most frequently.
  • Quintile No. 5 are poorest.
  • The challenge: Move Quintile No. 2 people up to Quintile No. 1 and Quintile No. 3 up to Quintile No. 2. Etc.
  • "Wanna make money this quarter? Don't mail the 5th quintile. —Bob Hacker

Takeaway to Consider
Note to Uline: If Denny Hatch has not bought after 30 years of sending catalogs, delete him from your list.

Denny Hatch is a copywriter, designer and direct marketing consultant. His most recent book is "Write Everything Right!" Click here for the Kindle Edition. Contact him at

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