November 17, 2008

The Five Stages Of Multichannel Grief

You're probably familiar with the five stages of grief, especially if you had a boatload of money in a 401k account.

Our industry is certainly going through this process, as catalog marketing rapidly evolves into an opt-in preference for a specific minority of the population (which isn't a bad thing).

Here's one view of the five stages. Where do you think we are? What do you think acceptance looks like?

  • Online pureplays like Amazon will never make it, all they do is lose money and offer stock options to inexperienced employees.
  • Zappos will never make it, they cannot afford free shipping and next day delivery.
  • "Do Not Call" won't impact us, because we're not like sleazy telemarketers.
  • "CAN-SPAM" won't impact us, because we're not like sleazy spammers.
  • The USPS would never jack up our postage rates while giving the banking industry a pass.
  • Customers love catalogs, they love curling up by the fireplace, with a warm blanket, reading catalogs from companies they've never purchased from.
  • Nobody sits in bed with a notebook computer on their lap, shopping for merchandise.
  • Catalogs still work, all you have to do is run a matchback program to know that.
  • Who are these third-party opt-out services telling me I cannot mail catalogs to customers?
  • Why do third-party opt-out services consume non-renewable resources like coal and oil but tell me I cannot consume renewable resources like trees?
  • The DMA wasn't on our side, we need to create a new organization that looks out for us.
  • Those bankers ruined the economy, and now my business is in the tank.
  • I cannot compete with big box retailers who knock-off my products and sell them for 15% less than I can sell them for.
  • I cannot compete with Zappos and their free shipping, rapid-delivery model.
  • If we do paid search and social media and mobile media and e-mail marketing and retailing, maybe we'll have enough channels for everybody to love us and then maybe we can mail catalogs to everybody.
  • If we participate in third-party opt-out services, maybe we'll get good PR.
  • If you're willing to buy from us during these challenging economic times, we'll take up to 60% off your order and give you free shipping.
  • If you're willing to give us your e-mail address, we'll tell you about special offers and discounts.
  • If you're willing to participate in a co-mailing program with me, we'll both save a few pennies.
  • If you're willing to manage my database and do my matchbacks, I'm willing to do all of my customer acquisition and housefile circulation via your algorithm.
  • If I use recycled paper in my catalogs, will you promote the fact I am a "green marketer"?
  • Ok, Amazon, it looks like your business model is going to work. If you (Amazon) will sell my merchandise on your site, I'll give you seven percent of every transaction.
  • I cannot believe sales dropped by twenty percent in the last month or two. This is awful.
  • I wish it were 1993. Things were simpler, and better back then.
  • I'm doing all of this social media stuff and nobody cares.
  • I'm doing all of this paid search stuff and it doesn't scale.
  • I have an e-mail marketing list of a million people and almost none of them respond, ever.
  • I'm doing mobile marketing and only a hundred and forty folks care.
  • I've added a couple dozen new micro-channels over the past five years, and yet customers (until last month, when things got ugly) still spend the same amount they've always spent.
  • I cannot believe I have to bail out banks, only to have the banks make it very hard for me to borrow money to run my business.
  • What a shame that I have to let go of ten percent of the workforce to even have a chance to be profitable next year.
  • Let's cut the catalog marketing budget way back when marketing to online-only buyers, especially those who interact with online marketing channels.
  • Let's let the customer opt-in to future catalog marketing when buying online.
  • Let's acknowledge that e-mail marketing doesn't dramatically move the sales needle, and completely re-invent the medium.
  • Let's not view new channels as "the next big thing", let's experiment.
  • Let's completely open the books with non-competitive brands, allowing all of us to learn what others are doing well.
  • Let's view ourselves as direct marketers with a catalog advertising channel, rather than catalog multichannel brands.
  • Let's accept the premise that you don't have to offer all customers all marketing channels.
  • Let's let the customer decide how s/he wants to interact with us.
  • Let's acknowledge that cataloging is a rural endeavor, online marketing is an exurban/suburban practice, and retailing is a suburban/urban discipline.
  • Let's run our business off of the profit we generate, not the amount of credit we can access.
  • Let's acknowledge that without people, algorithms don't exist.
  • Let's remember that the vast majority of the vendor community genuinely cares about us and wants to help us.
  • Let's invent new ways to create demand.

Page Counts When Bifurcation Hurts All Other Customers

Yesterday we talked about the fact that best catalog customers (a minority of your file) deserve MANY catalogs that are merchandised with...