July 26, 2015

The Screen Savers

I'll bet almost none of you remember this little-watched show from 1999. Here, take a look at this episode, assuming you have nothing better to do with the next 42 minutes of your time (click here if you do not see the video box).

Pretty compelling stuff, wouldn't you say? How about that CD-R / CD-RW technology they're talking about? Or converting sound to digital? Wow. Or go to the 43 minute mark and take a look at the sophistication of the websites that are being featured.

Why in the name of all that is good am I interrupting your pending omnichannel integration meeting (#seamlesscommerce) to bring this up?

Well, I'm listening to a podcast on Nerdist ... and the guest is Leo Laporte ... the very individual co-hosting The Screen Savers way back in 1999. Click here to see what he's been up to in the past sixteen years, via Wikipedia. And here's what is interesting, folks. He moves forward. At age 58, no less. A clunky show on a cable network that no longer exists became a TV show in Canada that was cancelled ... now he earns millions per year doing a syndicated radio show ... and he earns millions with his podcast network.

The theme of the merchandise (technology) stays the same.

The topics (merchandise) change ... always new.

The channels he uses evolve ... they do not stay the same. He's using radio ... RADIO for crying out loud, and he's using podcasts. He does not adhere to an omnichannel thesis that the customer does everything, so you have to be everywhere the customer is. His customers find him ... and find him on two of the more obscure channels (radio, podcasts) out there.

I bring this up, because many catalogers are in the process of finalizing the Spring 2016 circulation plan. You look at those plans, and you see strategies that are no different than strategies conceived back in 1999 ... the Early Summer catalog on April 18, the Early Summer Remail (#costsavings) on May 2, and the Early Summer 2nd Remail (#newcover) on May 16.

It's time to think differently about our businesses. Is it any wonder the typical cataloger has a customer who averages 62 years old (often much older)? We utilize online marketing to support catalogs, utilizing a tightly integrated omnichannel strategy that pleases the 62 year old customer but repulses the 26 year old shopper. Our merchandise doesn't keep up, further repelling the 26 year old shopper. Now, this may be fine - if you're growing by 10% per year and you're printing 12% pre-tax profit, who cares what you're doing - you're doing everything right!! Unfortunately, the vast majority of catalogers are not growing by 10% and are generating 2% pre-tax profit instead of 12% pre-tax profit.

So look at the evolution of this individual ... and compare/contrast his evolution to the evolution your company has gone through. What can you learn?

P.S. The co-host in the video (Kate Botello) went in a different direction ... landing off Broadway and now co-hosting a paranormal podcast while running a web design company in Traverse City, Michigan. There are many different paths to success, happiness, and satisfaction.

P.P.S. I just re-read this post, and realized that the content is something Sheldon Cooper might be proud of.