April 18, 2010

Dear Catalog CEOs: First Instinct

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Let's pretend that you want to launch a new product. You have something clever, creative, innovative, and you want to share it with your customer base.

What is your first instinct? In other words, which marketing vehicle first comes to mind when thinking about sharing this new product with your customers?
  • A catalog spread.
  • An e-mail campaign.
  • The homepage on your website.
  • Facebook or Twitter.
  • Direct mail campaign.
Let's think about the audience. Which audience represents your first instinct?
  • Best customers.
  • All existing customers.
  • Those who have never purchased from your business.
I am willing to bet that your first instinct is to use a catalog spread to communicate new product to the best customers.

You've been trained to do this, because it costs $$$ to create a catalog spread, then to pay for print/postage/paper to deliver the catalog spread to a customer. Because it costs $$$ to do this, you cannot take risks, you need to deliver a return on investment.

So you only focus on your best customers.

That style of thinking was necessary in 1995.

That style of thinking can be altered in 2010. You have countless tools (e-mail, homepage, Facebook, Twitter, Mobile) to deliver your message to all audiences, essentially for free.

Now, granted, you may not have a customer audience that appreciates all of these new channels. That shouldn't stop you from trying to develop the new channels.

If your catalog goes to 500,000 households and you have an e-mail list of 750,000 and you have a new product that will only be profitable if mailed to 200,000 households, give the new product launch a shot via e-mail ... make it the focus of a half-dozen e-mail campaigns over the course of a month, as an example.

Or develop a story about the product that you can share via your website, Facebook, Twitter, Ning, you name it.

This is a good time to experiment. Costs are low. Risks are low.

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