Live from ACC: Conference Not Just for Catalogers

San Francisco–Judging from the diversity of the attendees at this year’s Annual Catalog Conference, the show isn’t just for catalogers. Running June 1-3 in San Francisco, the ACC is sponsored by CATALOG AGE and the Direct Marketing Association.

One noncatalog attendees is Mike Haaf, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Salisbury, NC-based supermarket chain Food Lion. Formerly vice president of marketing for cataloger/retailer Office Depot, Haaf says he want to gain more insight into how the evaluation and testing processes of catalog marketing may be applicable to the food industry.

“It would be new ground for us, but that’s what I want to find out,” Haaf says. “There might be some new things I can apply to our business. There are some natural conncections that run across all retail, and I’m looking for common ground there.”

Also in attendance is Owen Murray, vice president of marketing for the University of Phoenix. “We operate the marketing at the university in direct-response fashion,” he explains, “using all the types of direct-response media available to us. We don’t use a catalog per se in our marketing, but we use many of the same techniques any cataloger would.”

Ethan Barborka, managing director of Provo, UT-based Tahitian Noni International, is looking to pick up direct marketing tips as well. Although Tahitian, which sells nutritional beverages, does use a catalog in its marketing efforts, its approach is more in line with a Mary Kay Cosmetics or a Tupperware.

But founder/president Kelly Olson has dispatched Barborka to San Francisco to further develop a more traditional catalog/mail order approach to complement its direct sales efforts. “Kelly told me this is the premier event for cataloging in the country and that it was important that we are represented and learn from the experts,” Barborka says. “To me, the people here are the Babe Ruths of the industry. If it’s the bottom of the ninth, I want Babe batting for me. So I’m going to see every Babe I can see to learn the best practices.”

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