April 10, 2008

A Day In The Life Of A Multichannel Leader

7:33am: You Arrive At Work. A quick review of the e-mail metrics from yesterday suggest something is wrong with yesterday's e-mail campaign. Open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates are all down about 20% from expectations. You send an e-mail to your e-mail analysts and to your e-mail delivery vendor, inquiring if there were any problems.

7:37am: An E-Mail From Your CFO. The e-mail asks all divisional leaders to trim budgets by 12%, effective immediately.

7:48am: Phone Call. The caller, representing a vendor offering multichannel integration systems, asks to speak with the decision maker responsible for multichannel marketing systems. Caller belittles your marketing infrastructure. Caller notes that leading brands like Circuit City are making huge strides in multichannel integration. Caller asks for a 30 minute meet-and-greet next Tuesday. You mention that budgets are being trimmed. Caller asks to speak with your boss.

8:00am: Meeting. The subject is "Multichannel Promotions in June". Eight individuals are invited, four arrive late. The meeting starts at 8:07am. Rhonda asks what the group thought about American Idol last night. The online division wants to do 20% off and free shipping for Father's Day. The direct marketing division cannot print postcards in time for the promotion, angering the retail division. Online decides to run the promotion anyway, starting June 1. Retail doesn't want the promotion to start until June 8, that's when a floorset change takes place. Online is changing the homepage on June 1, so they must run the promotion then. Retail refuses to budge, but will honor all promotional requests from June 1 - June 7. The catalog is in-home June 2-4. Online asks to have the in-home moved up earlier to support online. Catalog refuses to move the in-home, fearing an earlier in-home will be too close to Memorial Day, harming sales. Retail likes the in-home date. Nobody remembered to invite the e-mail marketing team. Entire team agrees to meet again next Monday to finalize the marketing plan for June, team will invite e-mail marketing team.

9:00am: E-Mail. Your e-mail vendor suggests that everything was executed correctly. You ask them to take another look at the campaign.

9:08am: E-Mail. Your e-mail analyst believes that something was executed incorrectly, causing Mens customers to receive the Womens e-mail, while Womens customers received the Mens version of an e-mail. Opt-out rates were 3x the norm yesterday.

9:14am: E-mail. Your e-mail marketing inventory manager says that she's not selling through Mens merchandise featured in the e-mail. Her metrics will be off this month, causing her performance review to suffer. She wants to run an additional e-mail campaign, hoping to clear through her excess inventory. You think three e-mails per week are too many. You send her an e-mail, denying her request.

9:30am: Meeting. The topic is "Creating Leaders In A Multichannel World", hosted by Human Resources. Eight people are invited, four arrive late, apologizing for the silly 9:00am daily sales meeting that ran late. HR asks all divisional leaders to allocate 10% of their budget to staff development. You mention that your CFO asked you to cut your budget by 12%. HR suggests that you start making the "tough decisions" that help employees grow.

10:13am: Phone Call. An executive recruiter has a job at a multichannel retailer with a proud heritage. You decline the request for a phone interview. Recruiter asks for a name of an individual who might be interested.

10:47am: Phone Call. Your CFO wants to know why she received an e-mail offering Mens merchandise yesterday. You explain there might have been a problem in the execution of the campaign.

10:54am: Phone Call. An angry customer (named Roger) wants to know why he received an e-mail campaign with Womens merchandise in it. You explain there may have been a problem while executing the campaign. Caller asks if you're an idiot. You politely respond with one simple word, "no". Caller demands to be removed from e-mail marketing list. Caller tells you that this is the reason your business is in the tank. Caller asks how hard is it to send a e-mail with Mens merchandise to a man.

11:00am: Meeting. The topic is "104 or 108 Pages In The September Catalog". Eight people are invited, four arrive late, they are upset about the decision in the 10:00am meeting to discontinue the lunch room subsidy, blaming the CFO for penny-pinching once again. A heated debate ensues over the suggested strategy to remove four pages of Mens merchandise in order to meet budget constraints. Mens merchant says you can't drive sales without marketing the merchandise. Catalog exec sarcastically offers that a social media strategy should solve this problem, shouldn't it? Womens merchant refuses to cut four pages from her assortment, suggesting that the assortment is trend-right for a post-Labor-Day bargain hunter. Team agrees keep catalog at 108 pages, as it is "the right thing to do for the business".

11:57am: You Write An E-Mail To The CFO. You tell the CFO that keeping the catalog at 108 pages is "the right thing to do for the business".

12:09pm: E-Mail From CFO. CFO demands that catalog expense be trimmed by 12% for Fall 2008. Team can make this happen however they wish, but the total budget must be trimmed by 12%.

12:15pm: You Write An E-Mail To Your Paper Rep. You ask the paper rep how much money could be saved if you use 38-pound paper this fall.

12:17pm: E-Mail. Your Information Technology Vice President announces that all websites with the words "blogspot", "typepad", and "wordpress" in the URL will be blocked from all corporate applications. You respond, mentioning that there are many multichannel marketing websites that you research that use these words in the URL.

12:20pm: E-Mail. Your Information Technology Director invited you to join him on a professional network called "LinkedIn".

12:26pm: Lunch. You enjoy a bag of Cheetos and a Diet Pepsi. This is what happens when the lunch room subsidy is eliminated.

12:34pm: Phone Call. Your dog has been kicked out of doggy daycare for fighting with an Australian Shepherd, you are to pick up your dog immediately.

12:35pm: Car Ride To Doggy Daycare.

1:07pm: Meeting. The topic is "Increasing Our Multichannel Customer Base". You apologize for being late. The team already decided that we need to do a better job of e-mail targeting. Inventory management believes the addition of a clearance catalog in August would increase the number of multichannel customers, though retail does not have a sale event planned in August, and doesn't want to mark down merchandise just to increase the number of multichannel customers. You present reporting that shows that, in fact, the number of multichannel customers increased in each of the past five months, even though macro-economic conditions have been less-than-stellar. The online executive believes that website navigational improvements made last fall are responsible for this increase. The retail executive believes his sales staff are responsible for the increase, and wants them to receive a bonus for increasing website loyalty. The catalog executive argues that cutting catalog pages will only cause multichannel customer counts to decrease. All agree that e-mail targeting can be improved.

2:30pm: Meeting. In your office, your web analytics expert asks to attend the Shop.org conference in September. You inform the web analytics expert that budgets are going to be cut, so attendance won't be allowed. Your web analytics expert reminds you that you sent the entire e-mail marketing team to the E-Tail conference earlier this spring, and they still can't execute targeting strategies correctly. He wants to know why you have a grudge against web analytics?

3:15pm: Conference Call. You, your e-mail analyst, and your e-mail marketing vendor all agree that somehow customers incorrectly received Mens and Womens versions of the e-mail campaign yesterday.

3:55pm: E-Mail. You send an e-mail to the entire company, telling folks that yesterday a systematic issue resulted in 80% of customers receiving the wrong targeted version of the very important "Spring Sings" free-shipping-on-orders-over-$145 e-mail marketing campaign. You assure all parties that you've put the proper infrastructure in place to prevent this from happening again, and that your team is working hard to identify ways to make up the $18,843 of sales lost due to the incorrect targeting strategy.

4:17pm: Hallway Discussion. Anita from Accounts Payable wants to know why an item featured in yesterday's e-mail campaign costs $50.00 online, but is $39.99 in some stores. You remind Anita that store managers reserve the right to offer spot discounts in order to move excess inventory and increase sell-through. Anita believes that this is not the right way to execute a multichannel marketing strategy. She read in Multichannel Merchant magazine that if you don't fully integrate strategies across channels that customers will be disappointed. She pointedly asks, "Why do you keep disappointing customers, given this problem and the great e-mail targeting fiasco you described in your e-mail to the company?"

4:43pm: Phone Call To Store Manager In Rapid City. You ask the store manager why he marked down a $50 item to $39.99. The store manager tells you that he needs to better manage inventory in order to improve his open-to-buy, or that his Regional Manager will fire him. Store Manager tells you that he's heard several customer complaints about an e-mail campaign customers received yesterday.

4:48pm: Phone Call To Great Plains Regional Manager goes unanswered.

4:56pm: Your Circulation Manager appears in your office, telling you that due to a glitch in the matchback algorithm, last September's catalog actually performed 30% worse than previously stated.

5:07pm: You Phone your CFO, stating that you'll be able to significantly cut costs in this year's September catalog by reducing circulation by 45%.

5:12pm: You Phone your Inventory Manager, Call Center Manager, and Distribution Center Manager, communicating the change in the September catalog mailing strategy.

5:29pm: Sitting In Traffic, you check your Blackberry. An e-mail from your Call Center Manager asks you to cancel the change in September catalog circulation reduction, as there will be too many agents sitting idle if there aren't enough catalogs in the mail.

5:53pm: Home At Last!


  1. Anonymous11:02 PM

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Seems you were battered on all sides. Thanks for all the support you provided us. :)

  2. Anonymous5:21 AM

    Once again, Kevin: Brilliant!

    Herein are all the reasons one leaves the corporate world and becomes an entrepreneur.

  3. Interestingly, what I wrote doesn't represent the things that happened to me. It represents what I see, and what I am told. It truly is the life of a multichannel leader.

    And maybe this is the reason that some folks leave the corporate world and become and entrepreneur. If the person is highly successful as an entrepreneur, they re-create the world described in this post. It's human nature, it is what happens when people are asked to collaborate in a petri dish called work.

  4. Too funny!

    In the funny-that-hurts-because-it-is-too-true sort of way.


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