Story #1: Brookstone performance was in the tank in 2008 --- no shame in that, the economy hurt many folks. Recall the marketing blitz employed by the Brookstone/Abacus alliance? You don't hear much from the PR folks these days, given that catalog customer acquisition is going through a death spiral. And that's ok ... now we can have discussions that are more honest in nature, with co-ops as partners, not saviors.
Story #2: Microsoft goes into retail. Hint to direct marketers looking to expand via retail ... .not every story ends up being a fairy tale (Apple). Direct is a skillset not understood be retailers. Retail is a skillset not understood by direct merchants. Ask Coldwater Creek if they're enjoying the retal ride they initiated earlier this decade?
Story #3: Direct Marketing. I'm speaking to a group of MBA grad students, about 25 folks age 22-35. I asked for a show of hands, how many folks purchased because a catalog was mailed to them in the past year? Answer = 2. I asked for a show of hands, how many folks purchased because a e-mail campaign was sent to them in the past year? Answer = 4, 2 folks say it was an Amazon e-mail that caused the purchase. I asked for a show of hands, how many folks purchased via e-commerce in the past year? Answer = 25 of 25. The future of direct marketing is not e-mail marketing and cataloging. We need to change at a rate that is at least as fast as our customers are changing.