February 10, 2008

The Writers Strike And Multichannel Employees

You might not think there's a link between the tentative end of the writer's strike and multichannel employees. I think there are many parallels.

Writers wanted to make sure that they were compensated as the business model they helped build moves online. Because they are represented by a union, they were able to halt their industry, allowing negotiations that protected their future.

Conversely, retail, catalog and online multichannel employees are not unionized. And look at what is happening across our industry. Merchants, catalog marketers, inventory managers and copywriters are being displaced by technology, though we're frequently told that the macro-economic environment is to blame.

Displaced workers now contact me, asking about the future of our industry.

We can speculate about a few things that could happen down the road:
  • Internet technology will eliminate retail jobs as consumers shift a small minority of purchases online.
  • Internet technology will eliminate call center jobs.
  • Multichannel integration will cause the elimination of white collar jobs.
  • Catalog jobs (especially customer acquisition jobs) will be eliminated by green initiatives.
Since we won't have the power of a union to defend folks in our industry, we'll need to protect ourselves. We need to add relevant industry experiences to our resume.

Employees who have been displaced, or who might be displaced in the catalog and retail marketing fields might consider the following:
  • Volunteer to help a non-profit or startup execute/measure e-mail campaigns or paid search programs.
  • Start a small, humble little blog, in order to learn all about SEO and social marketing.
  • Leave your big-company job, and acquire relevant skills at a smaller company.
  • Attend web analytics conferences, and learn the craft. Install Google Analytics on your small, humble little blog, in order to get yourself oriented with web analytics.
  • Go out on your own, providing services for businesses going through multichannel transition.
Obviously you'll have better ideas than I have. This is a really good time to build a skill set that prepares you for the future.