October 05, 2014

Shop.org and Internet Retailer: Smart Marketers

I was in the bathroom at Shop.org last Tuesday ... and I noticed a series of ads for a digital service. The ads were pasted to the bottom of the mirrors in the bathroom, next to the sinks.

A thought occurred to me.
"The Shop.org folks are so smart that they convinced a digital vendor to pay to advertise analog messages on the mirrors in the bathroom."

And then, the digital marketer who just paid an offline organization to advertise in an analog manner tried to convince attendees that they must embrace digital solutions or risk being obsolete.

The job of a conference is to tell a good story ... much in the same way that Fox News and MSNBC twist the news and then tell a story that resonates with their passionate core of fans. Internet Retailer is best at doing this ... with Shop.org not all that far behind. There are several elements to the story they communicate.
  1. You, the retail brand, cataloger, or e-commerce business, are not terribly smart, and are about to fall well behind the competition.
  2. You, the digital vendor, could be amazingly successful if you could get your digital solution broadcast to thousands of decision makers, in person, in an analog fashion (think about that one for a moment).
  3. Modern business is too complicated, with too many moving pieces for anybody to master.
  4. The solution, of course, is to learn about as many pieces as possible (at the conference, of course), and then integrate all the pieces via a concept known as "omnichannel".
  5. If you learn all the pieces, and then successfully integrate all the pieces, you will be successful. 
  6. The conference is the place to learn how to execute all of the pieces, and is, not surprisingly, the place where you then learn how to integrate all of the pieces to make magic happen.
  7. The conference teaches concepts like return on investment, but banks on the fact that none of the conference attendees will quantify the return on investment of attending the conference.
Shop.org and Internet Retailer convince retailers, catalogers, and e-commerce brands to pay money to learn about managing the pieces. They also convince vendors to pay money to have access to people learning to manage the pieces. This leads to three outcomes.
  1. Retailers, Catalogers, and E-commerce brands pay twice ... they pay the conference, and they ultimately pay vendors at the conference.
  2. Vendors pay the conference, and are then ultimately reimbursed by Retailers, Catalogers, and E-commerce brands who purchase products and services.
  3. The conference double-dips ... they get paid by Retailers, Catalogers, and E-commerce brands ... and they get paid by Vendors.
In the payment situation above, who gets all the money?

In the payment situation above, who truly has all the power?