March 28, 2009

Modern Catalog Marketing: 2014

Have you had a chance to review any of the presentations from the recent NEMOA conference? OMG, as the kids and social media experts say, what a refreshing array of content! Great job Janie Downey!
Give all of the presentations a chance.

These discussions lead us into the future. Think about cataloging in just five years, say in 2014.

It is likely that the circulation plan for a catalog marketer in 2014 will look very different than the circulation plan looks today.

For instance, in April 2009, this is what a typical plan might look like:
  • Catalog (128 pages) in-home on 4/1, mailed to 300,000 housefile names and 500,000 prospects.
  • Catalog remail of the 4/1 catalog (128 pages) on 4/15, mailed to 200,000 housefile names and 150,000 prospects.
In April 2014, this is what a typical plan might look like:
  • Catalog (96 pages) in-home on 4/1, mailed to 100,000 housefile names and no prospects.
  • Catalog (32 pages) in-home on 4/15, mailed to 150,000 housefile names and 100,000 prospects.
If this is the direction we're heading in (and many of you tell me this is the direction you're considering), you have the following homework assignment:
  1. How will we acquire enough new customers to offset the 550,000 reduction in customer acquisition circulation?
  2. How will we offset the sales lost by a reduction in housefile circulation of 450,000?
The answers have been discussed this week. It's time for us to get busy testing! And worst/best of all, there aren't any easy answers. You are telling me that you want solutions, things that work today, now! Unfortnuately, it isn't going to work that way. The online companies ask me to find ways that you can acquire customers offline. Catalogers ask me to find ways to acquire customers online. The only common theme is that it is becoming very hard to acquire new customers. Going forward, acquiring new customers is the primary responsibility of a direct brand.

The cataloger of 2014 becomes a media company. There's no reason to view Crutchfield any different than Martha Stewart. The multichannel view of the world is replaced by the micro-channel view of the world. The lines between merchant, media brand, and community developer blur. A catalog is just one of hundreds of micro-channels that in sum make up the "Crutchfield" brand.

That's a future that is actually exciting, a future where a catalog brand isn't dependent upon catalogs for growth.

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