August 28, 2011

Dear Catalog CEOs: Puppies

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Have you ever owned a puppy?

If you have, you probably felt like it was the dumbest decision you ever made, especially if you previously owned the same dog for ten or more years.

The older dog knew all of the rules ... she knew when meals were scheduled, she knew when she was supposed to go to the bathroom, she knew who to cuddle with and when.  One might say you had a reliable, consistent, predictable, comfortable return on investment.

Eventually, the older dog departs, and you get a puppy.  Somebody failed to mention to you the level of chaos involved in raising a puppy.  This little thing is cute, and it's a good thing he's cute, because he has absolutely nothing else going for him.  Your TV room seems to become an auxiliary toilet for the little guy in-between the every-three-hour bathroom breaks in the back yard.  He chews on your dirty socks.  He vomits.  He barks at cows on the television.  He randomly runs wind sprints back and forth, back and forth, for no good reason whatsoever.

You had an emotional relationship with the prior dog ... you have no relationship with this dog.

If you measured the return on investment of the puppy, in the short-term, you'd deem your ROI to be negative, wouldn't you?

Eventually, the puppy grows up, he becomes a member of the family, and you develop a new routine.


Remember when the internet was like a new puppy?


We kept the old dog, and we added a new puppy to the family.  We demanded that the new puppy act like the old dog.  Today, we have a really old dog, and a puppy that matured.


Long-term, we're going to have to find puppies.  Yes, it's going to be uncomfortable, chaotic, we're going to perceive we don't have an acceptable ROI.  We're going to lean back to the older dogs, because were comfortable with them.


We don't have to get rid of our older dogs, we didn't do that when the puppy known as the internet burst onto the scene.  But dogs age, so we're going to need a few new puppies, aren't we?

1 comment:

  1. Great analogy! I suspect I'll be using it! Like all analogies, it breaks down at a certain point, though, doesn't it? In the case of puppies, through patience and diligence, we train the puppies to behave as the old dog did. In the case of an emerging channel, though, the "puppy" is going to change/evolve/be as it is, while we (the "owners") need to learn/adapt to them.

    It's still a brilliant analogy, though.

    ReplyDelete