June 23, 2013

Dear Catalog CEOs: Cataloging For Dummies

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Most of you have heard of the "... for Dummies" series.

The series covers the basics, the "best practices" if you will, to get you up to speed, quickly.

Maybe we should review some of the tidbits we're hearing:

Cataloging For Dummies:  Align all of your channels, the customer demands the same experience in all channels.

Real Advice For Smarties:  Aligning all channels results in two problems - the core audience is satiated, any other niche audience is alienated.  As a result, the customer file ages, rapidly, eventually separating the catalog brand from the future, enabling Amazon to capture 25% of all e-commerce transactions.

Cataloging For Dummies:  The best way to grow your business is to get your existing customers to buy more of your merchandise.

Real Advice For Smarties:  If this was true, then annual purchase frequency would increase by 10% a year, every year.  This never happens.  Your growth is almost entirely based, on a long-term basis, on new customer acquisition.  The smartest companies thoroughly understand this fact.

Cataloging For Dummies:  Wrap the cover and back cover with new content, keep the interior of your catalog the same, and remail the catalog to your best customers, you'll earn more business at minimal cost.

Real Advice For Smarties:  In a world where a customer can instantly obtain information on a hand-held phone with the computing power of a 2010 laptop, you're going to send the exact same marketing content via a mailbox six weeks later?  It's 2013.  At least afford the customer the luxury of a new creative experience.

Cataloging For Dummies:  Drive the customer online using print.

Real Advice For Smarties:  Do the opposite.  Calibrate your catalog for a 60 year old or older customer who doesn't want to go online.  Conversely, create a great online experience for customers age 40-59, and create a fantastic mobile/social experience for customers age 18-39.  Or just focus on one audience.  Do what's right.  Don't try to use one medium to force a customer to use another medium because your printer thinks that's a great way to keep the print industry alive.

Cataloging For Dummies:  All customers love catalogs.

Real Advice For Smarties:  Baby Boomers and Moms shopping for Children, they seem to appreciate catalogs.

Cataloging For Dummies:  Contribute your names to the co-ops, and reap the rewards of instant access to the names/addresses of your competition.

Real Advice For Smarties:  Diversify your portfolio of new customers, or risk the acceleration of acquiring a customer age 60 or older.

Cataloging For Dummies:  Mail all customers catalogs, you're a cataloger!

Real Advice For Smarties:  Minimize mailing of catalogs to mobile/social/search/email buyers.

Use the comments section to offer your version of Real Advice For Smarties.