November 20, 2006

If I Had A Million Dollars

Assume you are the CEO for an online/catalog multichannel business. Your CFO opens up the purse strings, and gives you access to a million dollars. How would you spend the money? Leave your suggestion in the comments section below. Here's a few suggestions to get you started.
  • Invest in improved functionality of the website.
  • Hire individuals who have skills that are lacking in your organization.
  • Give current staff bonuses, salary increases, or improve health-care opportunities for your team.
  • Mail additional catalogs to drive increased volume.
  • Invest the money in customer acquisition activities across all advertising channels.
  • Invest the money in customer retention activities across all channels.
  • Develop a multichannel brand building advertising campaign.
  • Invest in research and development of new products or services.
  • Increase customer service staffing levels.
  • Improve distribution center logistics.
  • Pay down debt.
  • Give the money back to the customer via reduced shipping and handling rates, or expedited shipping.
  • Improve inventory systems so that you can truly participate in multichannel retailing.
  • Increase paid search activities.
  • Obtain favorable homepage placements on Yahoo! or MSN or AOL.
  • Improve the photography and creative execution of your catalog mailings and website imagery.
  • Pay shareholders a special one-time dividend.
  • Invest in public relations activities designed to improve customer perception of the brand, including donations to worthy non-profit organizations.
  • Develop "Web 2.0" marketing strategies that increase customer participation in your brand.
  • Purchase the naming rights to your local minor-league baseball team's stadium.
  • Purchase new office furniture for your employees.
  • Purchase new computer hardware for your employees.
  • Enter into a strategic project with a major management consulting firm that, with luck, results in greatly increased velocity of your brand.
  • Develop a highly personalized and targeted e-mail campaign strategy with trigger-based campaigns.
Which of these opportunities would you pursue? Better yet, suggest one of your own.


  1. Great question!

    Assuming the fundamentals aren't broken (merchandise and pricing are OK, website is decent, site search is decent, new buyers getting at least monthly catalogs, etc), here's how I'd spend the $1mil:

    $500K into new customer aquisition, likely paid search, assuming that channel isn't tapped out

    $300K into shipping discount offers (free shipping on orders above $X)

    $150K to hire a stellar merchant to source/develop new products (base + benefits + bonus)

    $50K towards employee morale -- food, more ergonomic chairs, contests, awards


  2. Thanks for the feedback, Alan. I like the investment in customer acquisition.

    Come on, folks, what would you do?!

  3. It's a little hard to answer without knowing more about what business challenges you face, or what your goals are for the business.

    Can you supply more detail?

  4. Hi Sanjay!

    I probably wasn't very clear with my explanation. In this case, I am thinking of the business you work at. If you were running the business you work at, and your CFO opened up the purse-strings and gave you a million dollars, how would you choose to spend it?


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