Categories
Writing and Publishing

Internet Sales Rise and Fall With Catalog Mailings

The DMA (Direct marketing Association) recently released their annual report on the catalog industry.

The report indicated that in 2007, 36% of sales [for the catalog industry] were conducted online. What is shocking is that this statistic is a decrease from 2006, when it stood at 40%. In fact 2007’s percentage was lower than both 2005 and 2004. To find a lower number, we need to go back to 2003, when it was a mere 29%.

What’s the deal? Is there a backlash against online buying?

No, seemingly it was a postage increase! This convincing theory blames the huge postage increase in May of 2007 as the culprit. Many catalogers drastically scaled back their mailings when their postage costs jumped 40%. Although some Internet buyers function strictly online, others are driven online when they receive a catalog or other direct mail piece. Ergo, less mailings equal less orders, and a decrease in sales.

I, too, feel the pain of the catalogers, as I experienced similar increases in postage for my magazines: Connections Magazine‘s postage increased 39% and AnswerStat, 41%. As a result, I began scrutinizing my subscriber list much more closely. Some magazines were pushed to e-publishing, dropping their print versions altogether.

So it should not be at all surprising that the USPS is seeing a drop in mail volume, which caused them to suffer a $1.1 billion loss for the third quarter. As a result, next year’s postage increase is expected to be the maximum legal amount. Experts predict that could mean magazines and catalogs will face a 5 to 6% bump.

Of course that means the affected mailers will scale back more, further lowering mail volume, and necessitating another maximum increase in 2010 — as mailing costs and post office efficacy spiral further out of control.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

That “New Shower Curtain” Smell May Indicate Presence of Toxins

Each day I receive a plethora of press releases. While some are exactly the information I seek to share with readers of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat magazine, others are more broadly targeted, and too many are complete mismatches. Consider the numerous email missives I’ve received to save the manatees or promote Michigan Special Olympics. Although both are great causes, they do not comprise the news my readers crave. Even more off course are the many pleas to promote a “hot” indie band or club. Oddly they are always from out of state.

Someday I will share a few of these random headlines, but today I want to zero in on a specific one from yesterday: “Toxic Ties to ‘New Shower Curtain Smell’ Evident.” It seems that the Center for Health, Environment & Justice is taking a stand against shower curtains made of PVC. They announced a call-in press conference for this morning.  I’ve never experienced a phone press conference (actually, I’ve never experienced any in-person press conference) so I thought I’d check it out.

These guys came across as rank amateurs. They started late, were unprepared, the technology confused them, the online information was not online during the call, and the audio was so choppy as to be unintelligible. Sadly, I learned nothing about the dangers of PVC shower curtains — only the dangers of bungling a live press conference.

To their credit, they did place a follow-up call to apologize for the audio problems and answer any questions. Figuring that I already wasted enough time on the failed press conference, I declined further information.

Still I wonder if I should be concerned about my shower curtains.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Upside Down Addressing

Although the new postal rates are now in effect, I have yet to learn how much more it will cost to mail my magazines.

Now there is another new postage rule for me to figure out.  It’s called “upside down addressing.”  Essentially, the USPS wants the mailing addresses on magazines to be printed upside down.  That is, if the magazine is turned upside down, the address should read correctly in the upper right corner.  I suppose that is to improve automation speed and aid in accuracy.  It will also look funny.

On my magazines (Connections Magazine and AnswerStat) I put the address on the back cover.  This is in part to keep the front cover unadulterated but also because that is how Connections Magazine was when I bought it.  The last thing I want to do is mess around with the addressing.  If the USPS can’t read the addresses, I fear having thousands of them returned to me “undeliverable as addressed.”  Even worse would be for an entire printing to be rejected at the post office.

Although “upside down addressing” can be done on the back cover as well, I’ve yet to see an example.  It’s safe to say that, be it on the front or on the back, a cover redesign of my magazines will be required.  The good thing is that I have a year before it has to be implemented.

Until then, join me in checking out addresses on mailed magazines and watch everyone switch over to “upside down addressing.”

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

A Tale of Two ATAs

This weekend I’m headed out to the ATA meeting in Washington.

You may be wondering, “Didn’t you just return from the ATA meeting in Washington?”

Ah, yes, but that was the American Telemedicine Association (aka ATA) meeting in Seattle, Washington.  Now I am going to the American Teleservices Association (aka ATA) “Washington Summit” in Washington, DC.

I know; I get confused, too.  The first ATA was for AnswerStat magazine; coverage will be in the June/July issue.  The second ATA is for Connections Magazine; coverage of that event will be in the June issue.

This is my second year attending the ATA Washington Summit.  I’m quite excited; it’s a great association, with wonderful leadership, and the members are first-class.  In addition to preparing attendees to meet with their Congressional representatives, there will also be some PAC (Political Action Committee) events and the SRO (Self-Regulatory Organization) will be discussed.

For this trip I was fortunate to book a direct flight from Grand Rapids (about an hour north of were I live); that’s a welcome bonus.  Flying out of Kalamazoo (the closest airport to me) always requires a connection — unless my destination happens to be a hub city!  So, I will gladly drive a bit to enjoy a direct flight.  The only downside — which is minor — is less travel time to spend reading and listening to podcasts.

So, this blog will be idle for a few days, but I am sure I will have lots to share when I return.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News, covering the healthcare call center industry.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

I’m Back!

I survived the rigors of air travel and have safely returned from a successful trip to the American Telemedicine Association Annual convention. My AnswerStat magazine co-sponsored a three-hour session, “The Medical Call Center’s Role in Telemedicine.” It was fun to moderate the event and meet attendees. All of my conference objectives were met, including generating interest among potential writers. I even have some ideas for new advertisers!

I will share about the convention tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some of the random observations:

  • The American Telemedicine Association puts on a well-organized and professional event. I was honored to be part of it.
  • It’s always exciting to meet people you’ve only known through email and the phone.
  • After bragging about my packing expertise, I found that a shoulder bag was a bit optimistic, so I resorted to a wheelie; I had room to spare. That was good because I picked up a lot of literature at the convention.
  • Airport food is getting better, with more variety; airline food is getting worse and is even less healthy—if that is possible. In my $5 “snack” I ingested a day’s worth of saturated fat; the only semi-nutritious item was a slab of processed cheese.
  • I listened to several hours of podcasts on my iPod, which was an enjoyable diversion on the plane.
  • I also read four books—yes four! They didn’t require a great deal of focus, which was good, since there are a great deal of distractions when flying.
  • I made connections at Detroit Metro, which is my favorite airport. Even if I don’t need to, I usually ride the tram just for fun and I am pleasantly awed with the animated fountain.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about my adventure in procuring breakfast.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News, covering the healthcare call center industry.