Below I list a series of questions that we might consider answering during 2009. Obviously, these aren't the most important questions, they're just questions I'd like for our industry to answer.
If you couldn't send a catalog to an individual who doesn't have a prior relationship with your brand, how would you acquire new customers?
How do traditional off-line marketing strategies interact with paid search, and do we give enough credit to the off-line strategy that caused paid search to happen?
Do we lose something when we try to merge the skills of retail, online, and catalog inventory managers?
Do we lose innovation and creativity when we centralize functions and eliminate silos?
Is the rest of the company able to perform the "ask and answer" function of business intelligence tools, or is this a skill that should remain with specialized individuals?
If you couldn't mail catalogs anymore, what would happen to the soul of your marketing organization?
Does Twitter matter as a marketing tool if the world-wide audience is only 10,000,000 individuals?
If you had the systems to create any KPI/metric you wanted, would you have the political clout to cause change to happen based on what the KPI's/metrics are telling you?
Does Google steer more sales away from your business than you pay Google to generate for you?
If you are a mobile marketer, what is your mobile marketing solution for the individual living in rural Kansas, a person who does not have access to a 3G network, or may not even have cell phone coverage?
When marketers send unsolicited campaigns to you, do you feel like the marketer is having a conversation with you?
When you send unsolicited marketing campaigns to customers, do you feel like you are having a conversation with the customer?
Have you calculated a profit and loss statement for your relationship with your favorite co-op vendor? In other words, have you compared the profit you generate from your relationship with your co-op with the amount you spend pulling names from the co-op, and if so, is the relationship favorable?
How much, in terms of sales per e-mail, would we have to generate before we felt that e-mail marketing was "effective"?
If we don't believe our own test results when we have just 1,000 customers in a test/holdout group, why do we trust a report from "Neptune Research" about multichannel best practices, based on 1,000 respondents who are generally not our customers?
If we stopped executing traditional marketing campaigns (catalog, direct mail, newspaper, television, radio), and we maximized our paid/natural search capabilities, how would we grow our online business?
Will your boss change her mind when you present facts to her that run contrary to her base of knowledge?
If you are a business intelligence, web analytics, or statistical analyst, do you speak a business language your executive team understands?
If you are an executive, do you give your business intelligence, web analytics, or statistical analyst enough information to answer your questions?
Can you identify one individual who you consider to be a multichannel marketing expert? What does this person know that you don't know?
Should you borrow money to take advantage of marketing programs that produce short-term losses that are more than offset by long-term gains?
If customers only buy from us in Fall 2008 when we discount the living daylights out of our merchandise, why do we believe they will be willing to buy from us at full-price in 2009?
When a vendor writes an article that says "leading brands are reaping financial gains by using 'product x'", should the vendor have to provide evidence to back their claim?
When newspapers die, who will you turn to for credible information?
How do you calculate the profitability of each static/dynamic page on your website?
Do online sales increases matter at a multichannel retailer where customers use the website as an information vehicle for driving retail comp store sales increases?
Have you explored some of the amazing technologies that printers are capable of putting into practice?
Have you put together a task force to predict what catalog marketing looks like in 2015, and if so, what does it look like?
Have you put together a task force to predict what e-commerce looks like in 2015, and if so, what does it look like?
Why are retail customers so unlikely to shop via e-commerce?
Why are e-commerce customers so likely to shop retail stores?
Why doesn't anybody in our industry talk about these very real challenges?
Should retail stores do a better job of promoting the e-commerce and website information channel?