Dear Catalog CEOs: Ten Questions For Your Co-Op

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Here are ten questions to ask your favorite co-op.  Make sure they have valid answers to these questions.

Question #1:  What is your answer to Groupon?  In other words, what is the e-mail marketing or social commerce solution that you plan to release in 2011 to compete with Groupon's list-based bonanza?  Or just as important, how do you compete with companies like who pays customers twenty pounds to invite new friends?

Question #2:  For all names provided to you in Q4-2010, what is the amount that these customers spent across all business in Q4-2010?  How does that compare with Q4-2009, on a comparable list basis?  How have the dollars shifted between traditional catalog brands, e-commerce brands, retailers, and social commerce brands?

Question #3:  What are the business channels you plan on utilizing in 2015?  What is your plan for getting from the current business model to one that is sustainable in 2015?

Question #4:  Do you ever hold out names from your clients, and then measure the incremental spending changes for those customers across your entire client base?  If so, is there anything you can share with your clients about the elasticity of customer spend?

Question #5:  Name three things that smart catalogers do.

Question #6:  Name three things that smart catalogers should do that they currently aren't doing.

Question #7:  Name a product you've had success selling to non-catalog brands.  What percentage of your annual sales come from this product?

Question #8:  Since you possess a decade or more of customer behavior, can you explain how customer behavior has changed in the past decade?  Given this change in behavior, what does your forecast for customer behavior changes look like in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015?

Question #9:  If a customer asked you to share the profits you generate from the customer with the customer, given that the customer does all of the hard work by buying merchandise, how would you respond to the customer?

Question #10:  If you had to recommend a company in our industry and a job title to a prospective college graduate, what would you recommend?