Barbara Canning Brown, President Misco Canada says good-bye to her team at Regal Greetings and Gifts, Toronto, Summer 1991




TO:  Regal Greetings and Gifts, Management Team                                                                                  

DATE: August 29, 1991

FROM: Barbara  Canning Brown


Following is a review of current status of various projects and activities and some thoughts on areas of problem/opportunity for the future:

A. Recruitment

  1. Incremental plan has been implemented for drop date 6/17 (37M English, 13M French direct mail).
  2. Status report of year-to-date activity has been published.
  3. Need current full-year forecast versus budget including and excluding incremental plan.
  4. Agreement has been reached with Operations to fulfill new account kits at Ordan with a commitment to 24-hour turn-around. This will be tested with the fall program for potential roll-out in ’92. Estimated additional cost is approx. $6M which has been absorbed in budgeted funds.
  5. Request for spending on incremental recruitment from Business Development budget ($26.8M) is not required as additional funds proved available from Ad/Promo budget.
  6. Conversion incentive testing should continue, particularly as progress is made in building predictive models of rep potential behaviour.
  7. Communications with new reps after the initial kit should be addressed.
  8. Reporting format still needs work to provide all indicators needed to measure results on ongoing basis and draw “no surprises” conclusions.
  9. Analysis of Rep penetration and understanding of appropriate levels plus missed potential needs to be examined.
  10. Strategic issues to be addressed:
  • -strengthening positioning to alternate and primary income versus part-time
  • -environmental issues revolving around use of direct mail (will be forced  by external events to address this, probably).

 B. Fundraising

  1. CNIB project at chromalin stage, on schedule for delivery of materials to CNIB 7/2 for them to mail.
  2. United Way mailing to last-year buyers and selected prospects currently being prepared for mailing in-house.
  3. Results for core catalogue fundraising program are up over last year. Detailed report and forecast should be requested.
  4. Progress on private label opportunities has been somewhat slow and untimely, so, perhaps should be viewed as a head start on ’92! Opportunities with Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclorosis and Heart & Stroke are being explored.
  5. Member-get-member leads (130) exceed plan (103).
  6. Summer promotion has 75 qualifiers to date. Results may indicate that focused incentives will increase effort.
  7. Only the “surface has been scratched” on long-term potential of core business fundraising. Investment will be required in targeted recruitment through direct contact, localized efforts through stores, direct mail and advertising to achieve significant growth.
  8. The most productive private label business formula has yet to be determined, but potential is there. May not be a significant profit centre, but it’s a business that “makes sense for Regal” from an image and product point of view. If Regal doesn’t go for it, somebody else will or already has.

C. Advertising

Although radio was cut back for ’91, it shouldn’t be forgotten in the marketing mix. While wrestling with finding viable methods of driving customers to reps with an appropriate linkage system, all possible opportunities for building ongoing image, awareness and need among consumers should be perused.

D. Marketing Services

  1. Improved relationship/cooperation with Merchandising has produced improved catalogue presentation and theming. Positive results should contribute to natural continuation of the process–not at warp speed but making progress.
  2. Current capacity is being stretched and should be watched carefully, especially under revised organizational structure and implementation of desktop publishing. Potential for problems will be in terms of capacity versus capability.
  3. Sylvie Robidoux has resigned and will be leaving June 28th to return to Quebec. Although disruptive, the timing (in production terms) is not critical. As well, Sylvie has had some difficulty adjusting to the new relationship with Neuville, so it’s also an opportunity to improve that situation.
  4. Paper stock testing indicates positive gains from improved presentation despite increased costs. Enough information will exist by budget time to make decisions on whether to take advantage of the potential. Sandy has been researching improved stocks at better prices as well as recycled.
  5. Catalogue quantities have been brought under better control through segmentation, advance pack control and improved usage tracking. There’s still room to improve store tracking and reporting systems.
  6. Final desktop recommendation is ready for presentation and, given approval, purchase. I believe the intense level of “homework” and level of detail invested so far will pay off in smooth, manageable implementation. Power availability is a problem but is being addressed by Earl Redmond.
  7. Given that the holographic wrap sample test is effective this year, efforts will be made to continue opportunities to sample manufactured product

D. Non-Cat

  1. Although ’91 sales are under budget, the positive result is less excess inventory.
  2. Non-cat sales in self-serve stores is a concern which is being addressed. An improved signage program has been costed but budget is problem. Suggest using business development funds.
  3. Sell-through promotional opportunity as recommended by Brenda should be revisited within ’92 budget.
  4. It appears that larger non-cat promotions produce better results which should be considered in ’92 budget.
  5. Outstanding question–does non-cat promotion drive catalogue sales or vice versa?

E. File Analysis/Segmentation

  1. Results from spring activation/reactivation testing and current analysis activities have yet to be formally reported, but should be reviewed prior to ’92 budget.
  2. Streaming of recruitment process with grooming opportunities will require coordinated effort.

F. Preference/Prestige

  1. Launch and implementation of program has proven the opportunity for Regal/PDL to deliver on the “income” concept. The hard part will be what comes next for current high achievers, maintaining/continuing to improve their performance.
  2. Strategic Issues:
  3. –is “what we have all we want” in terms of performance and it’s just a matter of increasing the numbers of reps at the upper levels
  4. -do we move further toward “direct selling” complete with territories, quotas, layers and rah-rah, if so, is it “testable” with a significant-sized group who have come to Regal under the “old” do-your-own-thing scenario and/or is it a matter of testing a “new” strategy with a “new” audience unaffected by historical treatment. This may be necessary given that current offers on recruiting reps and/or fundraisers have not been positively received.
  5. A mailing to activate inactive credit card holders has been implemented for drop 7/9. Continued monitoring and proactivity on the credit accounts will be required to meet BOM targets.
  6. 800# ordering service is being offered to a test panel of 790 Prestige reps. Given successful testing, an additional special service element could be added to the Preference/Prestige segment.

G. Environment

  1. Given management support, the environmental committee will carry on its activities under the leadership of Anna-Lisa. She has done a noteworthy job of taking control and will be continuing to issue progress reports and will bring issues requiring decisions to management.
  2. I recommended establishing a separate cost centre to record and measure the costs and savings achieved through the environmental activities in order to broaden focus on the issue beyond individual departments. Ron reviewing with Kevan.
  3. Strategic Issue:
  4. -long-term impact of waste, mail and privacy issues on Regal’s business–are we ready for it?
  5. The next major project of the green team will be fact-finding from legislation impending, activist group activities, industry (print, paper, etc.) and competitive activity in order to identify the real risks to Regal and offer possible solutions.
  6. Continuing waste reduction efforts will be focused on minimizing cafeteria waste.

H. Random Other

  1. Strategic Issue: Seasonality and frequency of catalogues to different file segments needs to be addressed, e.g. two 6-month catalogues with several seasonal spin-offs. As the concept has considerable impact on Merchandising, coordinated effort will be required to move forward in this direction.
  2. A proposal has been received to offer an additional product line to selling Reps (custom-made tablecloths), see attached. As the selling situation requires face-to-face contact with the customer, the proposal has been offered to Regal as a possible fit with our rep concept.
  3. A proposal has been received from George Farr to promote videos to the Regal file in a co-venture with Video One. (See attached). George Farr is meeting with them Friday to put together a list of recommended titles including cooking, gardening, decorating, child entertainment, nostalgia, etc. and will follow up with us next week.
  4. Discount Issues
  • -dollar volume levels should be upgraded for spring ’92
  • -strategy for annualized or alternate discount formats or point systems should be further researched and tested
  1. Due mainly to budget restraints, we have moved away from testing opportunities and have not capitalized fully on results of testing conducted in the past. Perhaps some of the “history” should be revisited, particularly in the areas of catalogue package and format design and sweepstakes/promotions.
  2. Signing authority procedures and dollar amounts need to be reviewed and updated.
  3. Further progress needs to be made on implementing M.E.S.S. One positive result of initial efforts has been a formal, published schedule from Merchandising.
  4. Bilingual reps continue to be problematic and current treatment should be “sorted out” or altered in some way. This issue crosses several areas of responsibility–catalogue, file, stores, PDL, so probably requires coordinated effort to address.
  5. A fully-integrated in-store customer information program needs to be thought-out and budgeted for 1992 and can be designed into self-serve conversions and new store openings coming up in the next couple of years.
  6. DMR Group’s national change of address system has been offered to Regal for testing. I haven’t heard from them since our meeting May 8, but might be worth pursuing.
  7. Testing of a new seed mailing concept has been offered to Regal. Although our own seed system works reasonably well, a more formalized process is probably worth trying out, especially as test will be a freebie.
  8. 1992 is Canada’s 125th birthday. A federal committee has been set up to explore event and promotional marketing opportunities with Canadian businesses. May be worth exploring.
  9. 1993 is Regal’s 65th anniversary–use it for all its worth!

I. My hope

I hope that Regal’s support and commitment to Catalogue Council we worked so hard to make a success continues.

J. Thank you So Much!

I can’t thank all of you enough for the thought and energy you’ve all committed to the Regal business and how much your efforts have made this company one of the great direct marketing successes in this country.  I have sincerely loved working with you and Tony, and hope I can have the same sense of commitment and positive work community as I move along life’s path.

That’s all folks!

Barbara Canning Brown

President MISCO Canada

Barbara Canning Brown's good bye party, The Regal Team.  The best ever!! 1989
Barbara Canning Brown’s good bye party, The Regal Team. The best ever!! 1989

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