May 13, 2009

Answering Your Questions

Here's what you're asking me ... your actual questions, either live and in person, or via the magic of the digital realm:

Question: My core customer is 57 years old. She was 52 years old five years ago. Does this mean that all of my customers are going to be dying soon? Answer: Folks, this question actually comes up, and often. When catalogers entered the "multichannel era", as defined by our vendor/trade-journal leaders, we took our eye off of customer acquisition. We followed our best customers, we catered to their advertising preferences and merchandise needs. Houston, we've got a problem. Not an insurmountable problem, mind you, but one that we must address. The 2010s will be all about acquiring customers. We don't have a choice.

Question: What drives the organic percentage? Is it brand loyalty? Answer: Some of you have implemented mail/holdout tests in e-mail and catalog marketing, and have learned that a significant share of the business that was attributed to e-mail and catalog marketing campaigns actually happens anyway. This percentage of volume that happens anyway is known as the "organic percentage". It is a combination of convenience, brand loyalty, and marketing saturation. You'll shop from your local mall-based Bose store because it is convenient and because your friends have the Companion 5 series speakers. You'll shop from the L.L. Bean catalog, whether they send you 13 a year or 8 a year ... marketing saturation plays a role, too.

Question: Your Zip Code Forensics maps seem to indicate a growing problem. Rural, 55+ year old lower-income folks seem to align with old technology, while urban/suburban wealthy youngsters are aligned with newer technology. Isn't this a problem? Answer: There are the obvious sociological problems associated with technology, they are well documented. For the readers of this blog, multichannel marketing is being ripped apart by the differences in demographic/psychographic between old school marketing and technology-enabled marketing. The Catalog audience and Twitter audience are not complementary, they are mutually exclusive. The E-Mail audience and Social Media audience were identical six years ago, but now, the Social Media crowd is de-tethering from E-Mail, leaving two non-complimentary audiences. Multichannel Advocates will be forced to alter the marketing strategy of the 2010s, speaking with a similar voice to very different micro-channel audiences via different messages ... the opposite of what we've been taught.

Question: You don't follow anybody on Twitter. Why? Are you so arrogant to assume that you cannot learn from others? What is wrong with you? Answer: Oh, I enjoy getting this one. First of all, I follow a lot of folks on Twitter, but I purposely don't do it via the "follow" button in Twitter ... so you aren't counted. I've said it before, I do this because I want to show that you can gain a following by providing interesting content, not simply by getting followers by following others --- the current established best practice. I will say this. So much of what is put out there by the Twitterati isn't actionable. Are we using a tool because it has a strategic purpose, or are we using a tool because it is new and shiny, or are we using a tool because we want to tell people we just ate a tasty garden salad? If the latter, the content has to be really good in order for somebody to follow.

Question: Acquire New Customers or Retain Best Customers? Answer: I strongly lean toward acquiring new customers, with a caveat. If your business is in Retention Mode, then retaining your best customers is critical. If your business is in Hybrid Mode or Acquisition Mode, then the majority of your long-term success will come from acquiring new customers. I've literally run thousands of simulations ... in Hybrid or Acquisition Mode, the #1 key to long-term success is the ability of a business to acquire new customers. This is a secret that the vendor/trade-journal industry doesn't share with you.

What questions do you have? E-Mail them to me, and I'll offer answers.

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