This past week, Catalog Choice used marketing techniques that are very similar to those employed by catalog marketers. Allow me to explain what they did. I will ask you for your thoughts at the end of this essay.
Thursday, June 19: I receive the following e-mail from Catalog Choice. Please click on the image to enlarge it.
There are several things that are unique about this e-mail marketing message / webinar invitation.
- I did not opt-in to receive marketing messages from Catalog Choice. They chose to send this marketing message to me without previously obtaining my permission to receive marketing messages from them.
- The "from" line of the e-mail message is from an individual at a PR agency. The subject line does not mention Catalog Choice. The body of the e-mail message is from a staff member at Catalog Choice. I'm not sure where this stands from a can-spam standpoint. At minimum, the strategy is not aligned with standard e-mail marketing practices.
- The PR agency employed by Catalog Choice graciously agreed to answer my question about how they received my e-mail address (they visited my website and copied the e-mail address), an act I appreciate.
- The e-mail message does not offer me a link with the option to opt-out of future Catalog Choice e-mail marketing campaigns.
Wednesday, June 25: I received a phone call from Catalog Choice, asking if I was planning on attending their webinar.
- I never gave my phone number to Catalog Choice.
- I never gave Catalog Choice my permission to market webinars to me via telephone.
- My phone number is part of the national do not call registry, though I give it out to my clients, family, and to potential clients at business-related conferences. It is probably true that .org brands can market to the do not call registry.
- Catalog Choice volunteered to me that they obtained my phone number from a presentation I gave in early 2007, a presentation they found via a hyperlink online. My thanks to Catalog Choice management for being honest and forthright about answering my questions.
- Catalog Choice did, via e-mail and during the phone call, offer to remove me from future marketing campaigns, good for them!
- I did not get to have a say (in advance) in the marketing frequency employed by Catalog Choice. In other words, I did not get to say whether I wanted one or two or seventy marketing messages. This is comparable to the practices of the Catalog industry.
Why Is This Important?
Catalog Choice goes by the tagline ... "you decide what gets in". When it comes to catalog marketers, Catalog Choice aims to give consumers control over what goes in their mailbox. When Catalog Choice markets to me, the marketing strategy is comparable to the practices of the Catalog industry, practices Catalog Choice are hopeful to change within the Catalog industry.
We also know the following:
- Catalog Marketing requires that forests be harvested, potentially damaging the environment.
- E-Mail Marketing uses electricity and plastics (computers/servers), often sourced from coal and petroleum, potentially damaging the environment.
Here is my question to you, the e-mail, online marketing, multichannel, and direct marketing leader who subscribes to this blog:
- Is it reasonable for an organization to strongly request that the Catalog industry institute permission-based marketing, yet in their own marketing programs execute the very strategy that they are trying to get the Catalog industry to stop?
I'd appreciate your thoughts in the comments section of this post. Please forward this post to your colleagues, as the topics outlined are worthy of general discussion in the direct marketing community.