April 04, 2012

Chasing Fireflies and Jennifer

By now, you've read that HSN / Cornerstone purchased Chasing Fireflies, a catalog-based business that grew from $0 to $39,000,000 in annual sales in just six years.

I want for you to think about a few things, regarding Chasing Fireflies.

  1. Growth was largely fueled by catalogs.  CATALOGS, folks.  Name one marketing expert who believes that growth via catalogs is a best practice ... go ahead, I'll wait while you put your list together ... I'm still waiting ...
  2. This wasn't done via Social Media ... 475 followers embracing 73 tweets on Twitter?  And yet, there's something about the business worth talking about, given that 20,733 folks like the brand on Facebook, but there isn't much "engagement" as the experts like to say ... meaning that the likes are merchandise-based.  Maybe that's important, huh?
  3. The core online audience is Jennifer ... click here for data from Quantcast.  I'd bet that there's a Judy-based offline audience purchasing as well, an audience that isn't observed by Quantcast.
  4. Punch up the website on your phone ... no mobile website as best I can tell.
Maybe we need to step back and stop adoring channels.  Maybe we've been deluded.  Maybe a link between merchandise (in this case, childrens apparel) and audience (Jennifer) matters.

Homework assignment:  Discuss with your Executive team the reasons that a catalog-based kids business was able to grow from $0 to $39,000,000 in the social/mobile/local era.  Do any of the lessons apply to your business?