Steve Trollinger

Steve Trollinger
Hot or Not?

“Sex appeal”—it sounds so “red lights and velvet.” I think about fashionable women’s magazines and the “advice” they provide for putting forth the better you. Stealing a page from Cosmo, I’ll talk about your online sex appeal and how to make your Web site “hot.”

Get Off the Offer Bandwagon

There’s an economic concept known as the “wealth effect.” In essence, the wealth effect postulates that as consumers’ portfolios expand in times of strong economic conditions, their spending increases. In other words, as people’s wealth increases, their spending increases regardless of disposable income.

Define Your Customers

Most multichannel marketers think of customers in straight-forward terms: females, 45 to 60 years old, $75,000-plus household incomes, for example. These broad-sweeping demographic descriptors have a place in customer definitions but aren’t the end-all, be-all in defining who does business with you.

Tested and Proven

Direct marketing, regardless of channel, in so many ways is a scientific endeavor. Direct marketing strategists strive to isolate the drivers of better response rates, open rates, clickthrough percentages and conversion. The mathematical and scientific nature of direct marketing lends itself, more than any other marketing discipline, to experimentation. And we call that experimentation "testing."

Testing Makes Perfect

Direct marketing 101, lesson one: Test the big things first. And few things are bigger than creative formats. But you don't want to test new formats solely on principle. Author Stephen R. Covey said it best in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People": Habit two-begin with the end in mind. In format testing, you must begin with an understanding of what you are attempting to learn or prove, as well as an understanding of what you will do with the results of your test—before you start.

Direct Selling: Making a Match

No industry standard exists for matchback processing. That much is true. But in this article, you’ll learn methods that, when used appropriately, just might help you with the all-important task of better identifying the sources of unknown orders. First, let’s identify the real problem with matchbacks. Working with various companies during the past several years has given us the opportunity to see the outcomes of a number of matchback processes. The results? Most consumer catalogs see match rates between 25 percent and 50 percent for unaccounted-for orders (i.e., orders that cannot be attributed directly to a catalog mailing, e-mail campaign, search marketing or

Direct Selling: Get More Bang for Your Buck

The merge/purge process is one of the most important data processing functions a direct marketing business undertakes. It’s obvious with rising paper, postage and list costs that there’s never been a more important time to make sure you’re getting the most out of your merge/purge and list work. The process of merge/purge—bringing all of the files together for a mailing or series of mailings and eliminating the duplicates between lists—is designed to create a marketing list that has as few duplicates and is as clean as possible. The merge/purge is necessary because so often mailers rely on similar lists to build their own housefiles,

Catalog and Direct Selling: Measure Your Success

Return on investment (ROI). It’s one of the most commonly used phrases in the direct marketing lexicon and one of the paramount benchmarks on which success or failure of a campaign is measured. But as common a concept as ROI is, many direct marketers still don’t perform the analysis or, perhaps worse, perform it incorrectly. As a financial analysis, ROI is a measure of a company’s net income related to its total asset investment. For direct marketers, that “asset investment” generally is the advertising cost associated with generating the sales that contribute the net income. Depending on the business, it also could include the investment

9-Mile Marketing

By Steve Trollinger Most multichannel marketers, particularly those with catalogs at the heart of their business, understand the importance of direct mail and its role in generating retail traffic. But not all brick and mortar retailers have embraced direct mail's potential as a way to drum up more in-store business. This month's column focuses on distance as an important factor in the improved success of retail-focused direct mail campaigns. Certainly the creative used, the merchandise offered and the company's overall brand promise and in-store experience are tremendously important to the success of any campaign, but I'm speaking here about how to understand and use

Catalog and Direct Selling: The Selling Season Is Upon Us

Here’s a last-minute checklist to see if you truly are ready for the holidays. The fourth quarter’s started, the sales are coming in, the hard work is done and you finally can rest. Well, maybe not. This is the time of year most catalogers enjoy; the time of year when all of the work and effort of the prior seven or eight months pays off. It’s when all of what was learned last year is put to the test in the form of revised marketing strategies, new creative initiatives, more efficient offer rollouts and better tracking methods. But it isn’t a time to

Catalog and Direct Selling: Get on the Horn

Build additional sales through an outbound call program Even in the face of increasing privacy legislation and mounting consumer backlash, there is a place for outbound telemarketing programs in consumer catalogers’ contact strategy. Like any customer contact, an outbound call program is most effective when relevant to the customers who receive it. There are advantages and disadvantages to using outbound call programs to build additional sales for your catalog business. On the upside, the call is a highly personal contact point with customers that allows you to directly communicate an offer that, ideally, has some urgency. And much like e-mail campaigns, offers that are

Catalog and Direct Selling: Evaluate Your E-mail

Do your e-mail campaigns measure up? It’s time for a New Year’s resolution. Say it with me: “I resolve to no longer send e-mail simply for the sake of sending e-mail.” Don’t worry; you aren’t alone. Pushing frequent e-mails with tons of offers and messages is an easy habit to get into. Low cost, easy to push, the sales just come in. It seems to be the proverbial “no brainer.” Are e-mails easy? Sure. They’re easy to create, easy to push, easy to manage. And they also are easy to measure. A good e-mail campaign should have clearly defined goals and objectives, and should

Make Contact
Four steps toward successful contact strategy

By Steve Trollinger One of the frequent questions asked at conferences and in meetings is, "How many times should we mail to our customers?" It's a fair question and a legitimate issue, but there is no set answer. What we know is that most catalogers fail to communicate with customers as often as they should. The number of times you communicate with your housefile should be driven by several guidelines, including: > your break-even threshold; > profitability requirements; > capital availability (it does, of course, cost more to contact customers more frequently); and > buyer behaviors. The short answer to,

How to Get Marketing and Creative to Collide (1,243 words)

By Steve Trollinger Are You on a Crash Course? We like to talk about vacuums—that the overall catalog effort will be improved if creative and marketing come out of their respective vacuums and work together. And when executed right, a collision between marketing and creative can produce explosive results. Putting marketing and creative on a collision course isn't the easiest thing to do, though. It requires a cultural mind-set of cooperation and teamwork. Plus, data may be hard to come by, schedules may be too tight to shift, or your catalog business may be more political than a California recall election. Whatever the challenges,

E-mail Smart

How to Leverage a Data-grown E-mail Campaign By Steve Trollinger Many of us are deluged by a proliferation of unsolicited e-mail. It's annoying. Every morning I log in to my e-mail via the Web and delete, without reading, almost every one of the more than 50 messages I received the evening before, then download the messages I do want. People all over the country duplicate my routine. Like me, they're throwing out perfectly legitimate e-mails from companies like yours, targeted to buyers and information requesters who've opted in to receive them. It's the baby and the bathwater—both are getting tossed. Not every message