Which Elements Of Business Strategy Truly Drive Top-Line Sales?

Back in the day at Eddie Bauer, I would get questioned about the customers my team chose to mail catalogs to. If a catalog were ten or twenty percent below plan, our merchandising community would question whether my team were targeting catalogs to the right individuals.

There was no way I could reasonably defend myself. At a six percent response rate, I was wrong ninety-four percent of the time. So no matter how I answered, I knew I could always do better.

Then my Vice President would chime-in to the discussion. He always said, "Seventy percent of the success of a catalog is due to the merchandise offered, twenty percent is due to the creative presentation of the merchandise, and ten percent is due to the households you target the catalog to."

I have no idea how he developed these relationships. I have no idea if they are correct, either. My perception is that merchandise represents sixty-seven percent of the success, creative presentation seventeen percent, and targeting strategies sixteen percent. If the merchandise is not appealing, there's no amount of presentation or targeting that can save it.

What do you think? Looking at the online business you are responsible for, what percent of your success is due to merchandise, creative presentation, or targeting strategies? What role does branding play in this equation? Let me know your thoughts!