February 27, 2007

What Are The Real Multichannel Marketing Trends?

Say you work at a direct-to-consumer organization, like I do. You want to learn what is being talked about in the multichannel marketing industry. Your competitors won't talk to you, and other businesses are not particularly forthright with you.

So, you turn to trade journals, like DMNews, hoping to learn what is happening. You click on their Catalog/Multichannel Retail link, to see what folks are writing about.

I scanned the last twenty pages of articles categorized in the Catalog/Multichannel Retail section of DMNews. I categorized articles as follows:
  • Strategy and Innovation --- Example = Orvis announcing a loyalty program.
  • Business Results, Mergers, Acquisitions, Lawsuits.
  • Catalog Discussions
  • Vendor-Based Technology Solutions and Vendor-Based Consumer Studies
  • Hirings, Firings and Deaths
  • Conference Discussions
I studied more than 150 articles printed by DMNews. Here is what I observed:

Strategy and Innovation represent 33% of all articles. This is probably a good thing!

Business Results, Mergers, Acquisitions and Lawsuits represent 24% of all articles.

Catalog Discussions represented 17% of all articles. Most interesting about this is that fifteen of the seventeen articles were positive --- talking about catalog launches, how catalogs drive multichannel sales, how young readers like print, "green" initiatives, you name it. The only negative articles were about Home Depot dropping their catalog titles.

Vendor-Based Solutions and Vendor-Based Studies represented 13% of all articles.

Hirings, Firings and Deaths represented 8% of all articles.

Conference Discussions represented 5% of all articles.

Of interest to me is the amazing skew toward catalog discussions being positive. Any of us in the multichannel marketing industry know catalog is in utter free-fall, quickly becoming the fossil of the marketing toolbox. That being said, almost all of the articles DMNews wrote about catalogs were positive.

Three questions for you, the loyal multichannel marketing executive who reads this blog.

First, does the mix of articles represent the mix of content you want to read?

Second, it is better for a publication like DMNews to focus on what is really happening, or should it focus on positive stories, success stories? Should it encourage the multichannel marketer at a time when catalogs are in free-fall, or reflect reality?

Third, how can a publication like DMNews (or this blog) get actual feedback from actual employees who don't work in the vendor community? How does a publication get real, honest feedback about what is happening?

Your comments?


  1. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Could it be that many DMNews readers still largely have their roots, connections and friends deep in catalog? It is the media they grew up in and it fed many very well.

    Old catalogers (myself included) are still struggling with the multichannel jump and how their catalogs should be repurposed or even eliminated, while some internet pure-plays have ventured into catalog, which confirms catalog for the practioners of the art.

    DMNews itself (and the other trades) are likely facing the challenges of the news industry generally. The new young direct marketing multi-channel execs are probably getting their information from their peers and the net. Perhaps the trade mags need to embrace change as much as old catalogers need to. In part by running their blog more provocatively (rather than as a news ticker) to encourge more response and greater social connections.

    One might measure a blog in terms of response rate/post, what do you think?

  2. Pete --- good comments. I would argue that DMNews is read by long-time catalog veterans, so your hypothesis may be correct.

    I would like to see DMNews use their blog as a blog, and not as news reporting. They could have something neat there, a neat discussion.

    Measuring a blog in terms of response rate/post is a good idea. There's a lot of discussion these days about how to measure this stuff --- ultimately, it depends upon what you want to achieve.

    If you want community, you might measure comments per thousand users.

    If you want to measure traffic, you might measure visits and active RSS subscribers.

  3. Best wishes! I have learned a lot from , across a range of subjects.
    Scarves Scarves


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