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May 2008 News from the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA)

New membership commitments: With all the activity we missed one new member last newsletter: GJM Associates. Our sincere apologies to George Mollo. (GJM Associates was actually the first consultant to sign up as an ACMA new member.) Since our recent update we also added Art.com and Country Casual as new ACMA members and have received promises from several more leading firms we expect to announce shortly. Welcome to all these fine companies!

Slim Jims to Slim Down?
Hard to know exactly but odds favor the USPS moving to reduce the acceptable thickness of slim jim format booklets and specifying the material to tab the booklet. Currently, slim jims of a thickness of 1/8th of an inch are mailable. The USPS is indicating they may need to reduce the this thickness to 1/16th of an inch because of “train wrecks” that are occurring on letter sorting machinery when running slim jims. This issue is of interest to catalogers because slim jims were heralded as a solution to disastrously higher rates effective in 2007. (Slim jims under 3.3 ounces mail at lower letter postage rates.)

ACMA members will be receiving a Technical Bulletin with more information shortly that details some things to be thinking about right now so to avoid surprises later. The USPS is signaling that slim jim format changes would be effective May 2009 but they are not expected to issue formal rules until the end of this year. The timing of this will force catalogers to make decisions before details are widely known. If you do not already support one of the three associates intimately involved in managing this issue, now would be a great time to join to get up-to-the-minute details as this issue unfolds.

MTAC Reports: ACMA completed another intense Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting in Washington late last month. ACMA members should look for updates via Technical Bulletins on topics such as address placement, the Intelligent Mail Barcode and other items of interest to catalogers.

Do Not Mail and Catalog Choice Information Sessions: As reported previously, ACMA has been working with Catalog Choice to better understand their role and approach in the Do Not Mail debate. ACMA established a DNM Task Force which has issued several updates to the ACMA Board of Directors. Work continues in this area. While we had hoped ACMA would issue a recommendation to the catalog industry on DNM the first quarter of this year, the issues involved are extremely complex. Catalogers’ feelings are diverse and deeply held.

Fundamentally, each and every catalog company will have to define their selfish and enlightened interests then make a decision accordingly. How a given company views Catalog Choice or others depends to some extent on their business model and particularly how it gathers orders and maintains House File and Prospective customers. One thing that is clear: ignoring this issue will not make it go away. Quite the reverse. If we do not show our ability to regulate and control ourselves, we add fuel to the fire of those who call for governmental (i.e. Congressional or USPS) regulation. Further, with catalogers’ brands on the firing line, catalogers have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership or be on the wrong side of the issue in the “court of public opinion.”

For those who do not understand what I am referring to here, I would suggest you spend some time reading the numerous blogs about preference services and Catalog Choice in particular. These are numerous, widespread and growing. We ignore this issue only at our peril.

So that you can learn more about Catalog Choice, they are holding a series of seminars. We would encourage every cataloger to get up to speed on this emotionally charged issue that’s clearly important to some segment of your customer base.

Here is what we received from Catalog Choice, please contact them directly to participate:

CATALOG CHOICE TO HOST INFORMATIONAL E-SEMINARS
Catalog Choice invites catalog mailers to participate in an educational teleconference to learn more about this free service and the business benefits it offers the industry. Launched in October 2007, Catalog Choice is a popular online service that gives consumers a convenient way to reduce unwanted catalogs received in the mail. The service offers merchants a way to honor consumer choices and reduce expenses associated with unwanted mailings. The session will be presented on Wednesday, May 14th from 1 - 2 PM (EST). Executive director Chuck Teller, project manager April Smith, and industry consultant Larry Shaw will review all aspects of the service and answer your questions. Join in to learn how to benefit from the service, tips on implementation, and hear what's coming next. To register, please email April at april.smith@catalogchoice.org with the date you wish to participate, the names of those attending from your company, and phone and email addresses of each participant. Catalog Choice will follow up with call confirmation and details. Participating catalog mailers can be viewed under "Bravo Merchants" at www.catalogchoice.org.

ACMA continues important work with the USPS: We continue discussions on how we can address the current state of affairs in the catalog industry with the USPS. We are making progress on a number of fronts. We will cover these at an upcoming ACMA Washington Forum late next month that will include the Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission and a number of key personnel from both of these important institutions. Non ACMA members are invited to join us and see what we are all about. Please look for a special email announcing the Washington Forum and hold the dates of June 26 and 27 as you may decide you want to attend this important first of its kind event. We hope you will participate in the dialog.

Please give us a call if we can be of service.

Sincerely,
Hamilton Davison
Executive Director
American Catalog Mailers Association
www.catalogmailers.org
Email: hdavison@catalogmailers.org
Direct telephone: 1-401-529-8183

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