Columbus, Ohio

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Email is a workhorse in today's direct marketing and should remain so. But with the advent of integrated marketing, it's more important than ever for businesses to know their audiences before deploying email campaigns and to know the strengths and weaknesses of each channel before integration in order to communicate effectively with those audiences.

The U.S. Postal Service is offering a $20,000 early retirement incentive to eligible employees in its bid to slash 7,500 positions, and it also is closing seven district offices, the agency announced Thursday. The buyout offer will be available to career non-bargaining employees in targeted groups at USPS headquarters, headquarters-related field units, area offices and customer service district offices, the announcement states. Anyone wanting to take advantage of the offer must begin the optional retirement process or submit a voluntary resignation by April 25. The money will be paid out in two $10,000 installments, split between this November and

One of the greatest speakers I ever heard was the peripatetic business guru Tom Peters. In one hour, he raced around the room throwing out myriad ideas, management techniques, secrets and rules. He persuaded me that Air Force Lt. Col. John Boyd changed war and was the greatest strategist in 1,000 years. The fighter pilot invented the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act—and then repeat the process). The OODA concept is just as applicable to business as it is to war.

After hearing Peters, I bought Robert Coram’s biography, “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War." Boyd’s shtick was developing lightweight fighters at the Pentagon; the lighter the fighter, the more maneuverable it is, which gives it the advantage in a dogfight.

When Boyd got clearance to send out RFPs on his new, lightweight F-16 fighter, various Pentagon higher-ups insisted the plans be revised to include a bunch of high-tech gizmos. These meant more weight, less performance, more money and a delay getting started. Boyd spent much of his time shooting down these ideas.

If the alterations had been added, the beautiful, efficient fighting machine Boyd envisioned would've been born a dinosaur.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein (1907-1988) once opined that the dinosaur became extinct because its body was so huge and its head so small that even though it ate all the time, it starved to death.

Unlike Boyd’s F-16, the F-22 [see IN THE NEWS at right] became so unwieldy and expensive that Congress was persuaded it was a dinosaur and said the hell with it.

Same thing with the new fleet of 28 presidential helicopters, which were loaded with so many do-dads and tchotchkes that the final cost was to be $400 million a copy—more money (adjusted for inflation) than the 747 that is Air Force One. Candidates Obama and McCain agreed that the iconic Marine One helicopter would work just fine, and the program was scrapped.

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) can be just fine, thank you very much.

Blockbuster days are ahead for direct marketers who find a niche in social media marketing; perhaps especially for those at the namesake movie rental outfit that is capitalizing on helping Facebook poker players who go bust.

Inventory management has come a long way since companies simply sent an employee into the warehouse with a clipboard and a pen. While some businesses still operate with offline inventory management systems, which now can be quite complex, many have opted for the dynamism of Web-based applications.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams of Columbus, Ohio, is in a region of the country where it has some heavy competition—literally. Dairy farms abound, and aficionados of butterfat-laden desserts have plenty to choose from. But more than the long lines outside its retail store in the trendy Short North section of the state capital betray the gourmet confectioner's popularity. Jeni's is among many regional specialty food retailers that have learned how to sell food online.

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