April 05, 2010

Gliebers Dresses: Brendan Templeton

As you know, in the next 1-2 months, I will publish the first year of Gliebers Dresses articles. You will be able to read each post, you'll read the farewell address from Glenn Glieber, and you will get to read my thoughts about each of the major characters in the story.

Going forward, I will continue to share with you some of the things that are happening at Gliebers Dresses. As you already know, when a new ownership team takes over, things change.


Setting: As usual, I am about to Skype in to the Gliebers Dresses Executive Meeting. It is April, so this is the first meeting being run by the new CEO, Brendan Templeton, the whiz-kid who built Zeldies into a billion dollar handbag business that delivered questionable profitability. Here we go. I enter the meeting.


Meredith Thompson (Chief Merchandising Officer): "So Kevin, welcome, we're waiting for Brendan to arrive. I was just telling everybody how nice it was to see Glenn yesterday. Ok, here comes Brendan."

Brendan Templeton arrives in the board room. He appears to be the opposite of a presence that is larger than life. He's maybe five foot eight inches tall, he's slender, with thin, dusty brown hair.

Brendan Templeton (Chief Executive Officer): "Dudes, thanks for being here today. I understand you have a weekly meeting, for now, I'd like to honor the weekly meeting. So, why don't we get started."

Pepper Morgan (Chief Marketing Officer): "Let's review the numbers from last week. The catalog business was up eight percent from last year, and was up twelve percent to plan ... "

Brendan Templeton: "So let's see if I understand what happened, your catalog was better than last year, and was even better than your plan. Does that mean you sandbagged your plan so that you'd make your numbers?"

Pepper Morgan: "We were conservative, we didn't want to be aggressive and then be stuck having to liquidate merchandise if we missed plan."

Roger Morgan (Chief Operating Officer): "In catalog marketing, you want to make sure you have too much inventory. Inventory ages, it is like a red pepper, it gets worse every day it sits there."

Brendan Templeton: "You mentioned that catalog performed well. Is that the business the catalog drives to the website?"

Pepper Morgan: "Oh no, catalog refers to the amount of business driven to the telephone. Online, we hit plan, and were flat to last year."

Brendan Templeton: "Something like 75% of the business happens online, right dude?"

Roger Morgan: "Here name is Pepper."

Lois Gladstone (Chief Financial Officer): "Yes, we generate three-fourths of our volume online." But we like to focus on catalog, because catalog drives our business."

Brendan Templeton: "Ok, what was the conversion rate of shoppers who came from your catalog?"

Pepper Morgan: "Gosh, I have no idea. How would we even measure that?"

Brendan Templeton: "Put that on your list. We want to split our online audience into pieces. We want to know the online shoppers who came from catalog, and we want to segment them from search visitors or e-mail visitors or affiliate visitors, right dudes?"

Pepper Morgan: "And we do that, for the most part."

Brendan Templeton: "Good. So from now on, when we report morning numbers, we're not going to focus on the physical channels like telephone and online, we're going to focus on the effectiveness of the advertising channels that drove demand."

Meredith Thompson: "Wow. That's not how we're used to looking at the business. We like to look at phone orders and online orders, so that we can see the evolution of the customer from phone to online."

Brendan Templeton: "Dude, do report on demand from Visa compared with PayPal?"

Meredith Thompson: "Well no, that's not really actionable."

Brendan Templeton: "Right. Going forward, telephone demand is not an actionable metric. It's only 25% of our total volume, and will continue to be less and less of our total over time. And I don't care how the customer shops. If she wants to order over the phone, God love her, dude. If she wants to order online, dandy. If she wants to stop shopping via search, that's something I want to know about, because I can do something about that."

Roger Morgan: "I don't think we've ever talked about search demand in these meetings. We're a multichannel business, and the catalog is the foundation of a solid catalog business. Just ask Woodside Research. Would you like for me to hook you up with those folks? They've done a lot of research on the topic of multichannel marketing, and print is everything, print is what drives a multichannel business. Just ask them."

Brendan Templeton: "Dude, at Zeldies, we grew to a billion dollars without ever sending one single piece of print in the mail. Would you rather have Gliebers Dresses be a billion dollar business without print, or a forty-five million dollar business with catalogs?"

Meredith Thompson: "Do you think we can be a billion dollar business without print?"

Brendan Templeton: "Dude, tell me this. How many customers were delivered your e-mail campaign last Thursday, how many clicked-through to the website, how many ordered something, and how many ordered merchandise not featured in the e-mail campaign?"

Meredith Thompson: "I don't know, I don't have the report in front of me. I'm not even sure I've ever seen the report."

Brendan Templeton: "Ok Dude, now tell me how the merchandise on pages 18-19 performed in the March catalog."

Meredith Thompson: "That's easy, I have the metrics right in front of me, see, the ..."

Brendan Templeton: "Hold it dude, you nailed my point. We can't have a billion dollar business without print if we don't know anything about the non-print portion of our business."

Pepper Morgan: "That might be the first profound thing mentioned in this room in the past six months."

Brendan Templeton: "That's a rockin' comment, Pepper. Dudes, here's the 411 ... I may not ask you how a single catalog performed over the next week. I'm going to focus my efforts on what you're doing to drive us to the future. I'm going to focus my efforts on the metrics that allow us to grow our business outside of print. You're all print experts. So, right on, man, you're going to continue to do what you do well, I can't improve on that. But I will make us focus on everything else, the intersection between the past and the future, dudes."

Meredith Thompson: "Interesting."

Brendan Templeton: "So let's start with my first gift to you. In your office, as we speak, my new administrative assistant, Amber, dropped off a brand new iPad on your desk. Here's what I'm looking for. Use the device for a week. Use some apps, given things a try. On May 1, I want to know what our iPad strategy is. I want a project outline that clearly communicates the launch date for our iPad strategy. How do each of you apply your catalog knowledge into the framework of an iPad. It seems to me that flipping through a digital catalog with your index finger on an iPad is a logical extension of the Gliebers Dresses brand. So go make something happen. I'm looking forward to what you come up with, by May 1."

Roger Morgan: "Oh Mr. Templeton, maybe you're not aware of this, but we have a thing called a 'Book of Work' that we use to prioritize our projects. We'll have to evaluate your ideas with the actionable items in this book of work."

Brendan Templeton: "Dude, launch this rocket up to the top of your book of work. Now go make something happen, dudes. I'm outta here!"

Meredith Thompson: "This is going to be interesting. Kevin. do you have anything to say?"

Kevin: "Nope, I think Mr. Templeton is setting a good precedent, thanks everybody."

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