January 13, 2013

Dear Catalog CEOs: Stubborn

Dear Catalog CEOs:

This is one of my favorite images.

Why?

Because this image tells us more than any trade journal article on omnichannel marketing could ever communicate.

You see, we're stubborn people.  Both catalogers, and the digital marketers purporting a social/mobile/local solution founded on big data.  Both are stubborn.  Terribly stubborn.

The catalog marketer wants to take the two Jasmine-esque individuals in this image, and teach them to love catalogs.  I know this, because you ask me this question all of the time ... "how do I get Jasmine to love direct mail?"  At a recent conference, an individual told me "if I get Jasmine to love direct mail, then I get to keep doing what I love."

The digital marketer wants to take the two Baby Boomers in this image, and teach them to "embrace the future".  I know this, because on Twitter, folks ask me "how do we get a Baby Boomer to embrace Facebook commerce? I mean, they're going to be left behind."

In the real world, we're all climbing into our own little niche-based pods.  The combination of 175 people I follow on Twitter aren't replicated anywhere.  The combination of 175 books you have on your Kindle aren't replicated anywhere.  The combination of 175 paperbacks that somebody has on a bookshelf are not replicated anywhere.  Your friend watches Once Upon a Time on ABC and calls you on a land line to talk about the episode ... meanwhile, 40,000 folks are using a "second screen" to chat about the episode on Twitter ... and you're oblivious to their discussion ... even though they're doing the same thing you're doing, just in the confines of a different niche.

In the real world, we're evolving, fast ... falling into tiny niches suited to our interests.

But in marketing, we're stubborn.  We demand that somebody else embrace what we're offering, and if they won't embrace it, we'll just discount it to the point where we lose money, but you'll embrace us.  

It's pretty obvious now, based on the data, that there are many different paths to the future.

For the cataloger, there's a 5-15 year window where, if we meet the needs of a Baby Boomer (Judy), we'll be very happy.  Tell me why that's a bad thing?

For the digital marketer, there's a 5-15 year window where, if we meet the needs of Jasmine, we'll be very happy before hologram marketing swamps everybody.  Tell me why that's a bad thing?

The bad thing, of course, is "omnichannel".  Instead of wasting so much money, time, and energy doing everything so that you appeal to an 18-88 year old customer, why not do what you love, and attract those who also love it?  Especially for catalog marketers, every dollar spent chasing dreams is a dollar that isn't spent generating profit.

Why be so stubborn?

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