There was some positive news for directory publishers in 2009, as revenues began to stabilize. While there were declines in the printed directory arena, there were gains associated with a variety of Internet offerings.
"Direct mail has emerged as a significant new revenue stream opportunity for directory publishers. They are also focusing more resources on sales training and many are migrating to a new business model of 'pay for performance,' " explains Todd Omvig, executive vice president of sales at World- color. "Publishers are also finding that they can optimize sales by bundling their print, Internet and mobile offerings to deliver more leads and customers to their advertisers—with print remaining at the core of the bundled offering."
Within the catalog sector, personalized and more targeted catalogs continue to be the trend, serving as idea generators that prompt readers to visit catalogers' Websites for more purchasing options.
"Catalogs will increasingly shift from being standalone direct response vehicles to drivers of Internet and in-store purchases," explains Transcontinental's Jensen. "We also anticipate more frequent catalog events with fewer pages, while transactional Websites continue to expand as order hubs."
Catalogers have also faced their share of challenges in 2009, such as the increases in marketing and postage costs, as well as lower than normal response rates and smaller order sizes. Some catalogers responded by reducing press runs, page counts and, in some cases, reducing product pricing to drive more sales volume.
"Catalogers have responded to these challenges by increasing their focus on e-mail marketing, and by reducing gross mail quantities and frequencies," says Andy Bear, director of business development, Marketing Solutions Group, at Worldcolor. "They have also focused more on the scrutiny and analysis of customer demographics and product trends, as well as increases in special offers such as percentage-off coupons and free shipping, etc."