August 25, 2016

What Can I Do?

I know, I know, you are a Marketer and it is hard to figure out how to deal with your Merchandising Team. They have the reporting. They host the meetings. They own the Merchandise. You don't have any say, any input.


I had the good fortune of working for an Accountant early in my career. Accountants were to 1990 what #DataScientists are today ... they had the data, and they knew how to calculate profit. This gave the Accountant an enormous advantage over everybody else in meetings.

I was invited to a meeting, way back in 1993. Catalog performance was being reviewed by a cross-section of business leaders ... Inventory, Finance, Creative, Merchandising, Marketing, Operations were all represented. Each catalog spread was pinned up on colored tag board:
  • Gold = 30%+ Variable Profit.
  • Green = 20% - 29% Variable Profit.
  • Blue = 10% - 19% Variable Profit.
  • Red = < 10% Variable Profit.
Each item in each spread was summarized via a profit-and-loss statement.

This is where the Accountant took over the meeting, though she didn't host the meeting.
  • "This item on page six has a 47% return rate. Why would we feature such an unprofitable item on page six?"
  • "Why is the best selling item in the catalog on page 139?"
  • "Did we purposely put crappy merchandise in this spread, and if so, why?"
  • "Do you realize that pages 20-39 were all Red, and therefore, all essentially unprofitable? This means I have to reduce circulation by 5% to make the numbers work. We cannot afford to lose that much demand. What is the plan to fix this next year?"
  • "Why did we only buy 800 widgets and then run out of widgets when last year this same spread sold 3,800 widgets? Why would we do that?"
Was the Accountant a popular person?


Was the Accountant right?


The Accountant became the GM of a Merchandise Category - and years later, founded a business and sold it to a major brand for tens of millions of dollars.

That's what you can do.

You can stand up for yourself.

When you are meeting with your Merchandising / Creative business partners, have the numbers ... sales ... profit ... all key metrics (#KPIs) at your disposal. You should create the reporting template. Make yourself indispensable. 

Not invited to the meetings?

Then create your own monthly reporting format that you circulate company-wide. Feature key customer metrics in your monthly report. Feature key merchandising metrics (including new item development and sales/profit estimates for all items). Tell the company what is working and what is not working.

Boss won't let you do this?

Do it anyway. Or create something similar. Or share your reporting outside of the Executive Team, teaching your co-workers what is happening. Best of all - start sharing your efforts with your Finance Team - those folks tend to enjoy learning more about the business.

Company culture won't let you do this? Go find another company to work for.