June 27, 2010

Dear Catalog CEOs: Loving The Craft

Dear Catalog CEOs:

If there is one theme that permeates all catalog clients I visit, it is a love for the craft of cataloging.

This love comes across in the way that the catalog mind thinks. The CEO based in San Jose thinks about an app as a way to engage a customer, and thinks about what needs to be in the app to make sure that the customer purchases something.

The catalog CEO thinks about the catalog as a way to engage a customer, and thinks about the content in the catalog as a way to make sure that the customer purchases something.

The online channel is a direct reflection of the craft that Management loves. When the merchandise is aligned with the catalog, when the catalog order form is still featured on the home page, when catalog request opportunities are actively promoted on the home page, you know that Management loves the craft of catalog marketing.

Sometimes, those who love the craft of catalog marketing poo-poo new technology. Catalog marketers have long had an adversarial relationship with Online marketers, and vice versa. Catalog marketers take swipes at Social Media, often for good reason, because the channel is nothing short of feckless at driving sales for so many brands employing the craft. Catalog marketers take swipes at Mobile, often for good reason, because the channel is in the embryonic stages of upstaging traditional e-commerce and is not yet, for most marketers, accounting for a reasonable share of net sales.

And, of course, the Online, Social, and Mobile folks constantly take swipes at Catalogers, considering the craft an artifact of a time gone by. All of this is pointless ... what matters is whether customers love the merchandise we offer, right?

It's easy to have a discussion about loving the craft of catalog marketing, online marketing, social media, or mobile marketing. All four camps have a preference for one form of marketing.

If you want to do something interesting, ask your Management team which craft they love more:
  1. The craft of producing catalogs.
  2. The craft of merchandising.
  3. The craft of customer service.
Too often, folks love the craft of producing catalogs. This is where we find our downfall.

When management loves selling merchandise, the business hums.

When management loves providing outstanding customer service, the business hums when customers love the merchandise.

When management loves a marketing channel (catalogs, website, search, re-targeting, e-mail, social, mobile, and countless other channels) ... well, that result yields mixed results.

Fifty Multichannel Forensics projects across more than thirty catalog/retail brands clearly indicate that a love for merchandise and customer service outweigh a love for marketing channels. Love the craft of selling merchandise via outstanding customer service!