May 06, 2007

New Jos. A. Bank President

This article in DMNews hit it right on the head --- merchandisers own whatever we define "multichannel" to be.

From a career advancement standpoint, most of us really butchered the "multichannel thing".
  • Creatively, we were told to "integrate" our marketing. Show me the instances where "integrated marketing" drove consistent, dramatic increases in sales, beyond an individual campaign? I'm not talking about improving the open rate of an e-mail campaign by 11%, I'm talking about what it is that has been done that increased total sales by 11% on a sustained basis.
  • From an IT standpoint, we learned that "multichannel" is "expensive". We're busy securing capital. At some point in 2010 or 2015, we'll have the systems infrastructure to deal with the realities of the business world of 2007. Then what?
  • From a marketing standpoint, we've failed in at least three ways. Many catalogers failed to embrace online marketing. Most online marketers failed to embrace print marketing. Many Chief Marketing Officers have not invested the time to understand how marketing has fundamentally changed in just the past two years.
  • From an HR standpoint, we failed to build organizational structures that cross-pollinate skills across employees. The reality is that catalog marketing, online marketing, and retail marketing require VERY DIFFERENT SKILLS. We haven't cross-pollinated enough talent to have truly brilliant marketers, creative employees, copywriters, etc.
  • From a Finance standpoint, our leaders usually fail to understand how to properly measure ROI, and consequently, can't provide a vision for how to move the business forward.
  • From a Database Marketing standpoint, we are too technical, too geeky. We don't tell a "multichannel story". This holds us back. Tell me the last time your Database Marketer clearly explained (using ordinary English language) how customers utilize the website to make a purchase over the phone, online, or in a store?
  • From a Web Analytics standpoint, we fail to ever measure anything more than the outcome of one visit. This has to stop. This isn't how customers behave. Web Analytics practitioners and Web Analytics vendors must analyze customer behavior across time, across channels --- not just in isolation within one visit.
  • Pundits have failed us. There is little insight and vision into the future. There is a lot of talk about systems integration, or that "multichannel customers are the best customers", or that "customers demand a flawless multichannel experience". Duh. Worse, we pay for this type of insight. We need an ROI-matchback solution that's not so heavily skewed toward favoring catalog mailings.
Merchants have been able to avoid most of these problems. They simply are required to sell merchandise wherever the customer wants to buy it. If the merchant fails, s/he is fired. Merchants have largely succeeded, given the ordinary systems they've always had, by having a gut feel about multichannel customer behavior. Merchants are taking ownership of the top leadership positions in our businesses.

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