November 18, 2014

Catalog Marketing: Best Practices Yield Clutter

I'm not a catalog shopper, folks. I was, back in 1999. For me, e-commerce became the primary way to purchase merchandise, and then, Amazon. I doubt I'm alone, among those under the age of 50.

So here I was, this afternoon, exactly nine days prior to Thanksgiving, walking to my mailbox. I remembered the twenty years I spent measuring in-home date effectiveness ... "don't be in-home the week of Thanksgiving" ... "Monday-Wednesday is a better in-home window than Wednesday-Friday" ... blah blah blah blah blah.

Of course, it's 2014 now, not 1999. You have choices. The omnichannel folks will tell you that you have infinite choices. And they expect you to utilize the veritable buffet of choices at your disposal. It's how they get paid.

So why, when I go to the mailbox today, do I obtain a fistful of catalogs, all mailed on November 18, in observance of all established catalog best practices? 

My goodness, how many catalogs do you think the 68 year old retired school teacher living just south of Buffalo received today (assuming that the customer could get to the mailbox amid 70 inches of snow - click here)?

Two problems here.

  1. I'm not a catalog shopper, and yet, catalogers are pummeling me. I can fix that problem among housefile buyers (kevinh@minethatdata.com if you're interested). Only co-ops can fix the problem among prospects, and there's a financial disincentive for them to fix the problem.
  2. Creativity and Original Thought: Best practices are not best practices - they're lazy tactics that eliminate creativity. I realize that you've mailed a catalog for thirty years nine days prior to Thanksgiving. I realize that it's easy to pencil in this in-home date when creating your 2015 plans. Why not try to demonstrate some creativity? At minimum, why not extensively test different ideas? If you test, and you find that being in-home nine days prior to Thanksgiving is best, then you're well ahead of the curve.