September 20, 2009

Gliebers Dresses: Edition

Welcome to the weekly Executive Meeting.

Glenn Glieber (Owner): "... you'd think you could trust Chip Cayman, given that he's worked with us so extensively, but no, you can't trust him anymore. I cannot believe he publicly mocked us at the conference."

Meredith Thompson (Chief Merchandising Officer): "Kevin, is that you?"

Kevin: "Yup, it's me."

Meredith Thompson: "Did you hear about what happened at yesterday, Kevin?"

Kevin: "No, I'm not at this week."

Meredith Thompson: "Pepper used her phone to videotape Chip Cayman's presentation, titled 'Lousy Websites and Lousy Online Marketers'. He spent a disproportionate amount of time ripping our website."

Roger Morgan (Chief Operations Officer): "Idiot."

Kevin: "So what was his problem with Gliebers Dresses?"

Roger Morgan: "The audience just kept laughing at us, mocking us. And Chip had that stupid giggle going through the whole presentation. We don't have a problem, we have an 8% conversion rate!"

Kevin: "So what was his problem with Gliebers Dresses?"

Lois Gladstone (Chief Financial Officer): "He said our website looked like it was created by an old version of Microsoft Frontpage. The audience just roared."

Roger Morgan: "Again, if the website is so bad, then why do we have an 8% conversion rate?"

Kevin: "If you segment out all visits from catalog customers, what is the conversion rate?"

Roger Morgan: "About 1.5%"

Kevin: "What do you think about that?"

Roger Morgan: "You have to understand, Kevin, we're a multichannel brand. We drive traffic via offline and online marketing."

Kevin: "But do you think that a 1.5% conversion rate is acceptable for non-catalog shoppers?"

Meredith Thompson: "Kevin, we're a multichannel brand. We focus our efforts on print, on using the catalog to drive qualified shoppers online. Who cares if we have a 1.5% conversion rate among non-catalog customers? Our job is to use catalog marketing to encourage a customer to shop however she wants to shop. And we do that well, really, really well, or we wouldn't have an 8% conversion rate."

Roger Morgan: "Chip said we have no shopping cart abandonment marketing tools, that we only 'spray and pray' when we send out our e-mail marketing campaigns, that our catalogs have no online call to action, that our organic search is nothing short of pathetic, that our live chat functionality is awful. And yet, we have an 8% conversion rate."

Meredith Thompson: "Why would he hire a consultant, open our books to him, share our business model with him, and then let him use our information to mock us and make him look great in front of 600 conference attendees?"

Roger Morgan: "Do you know how easy it is to mock companies? I mean, these consultants, they pick on big companies like us to make themselves look good. And the audience laughs and laughs and laughs, yeah, Gliebers Dresses, those stupid lumbering fools. The conferences encourage this, they encourage consultants to rip regular companies like ours, because it encourages people to attend, and then they make a ton of money. I'd like to see all these vendor fools and consulting idiots go try to enact real change within real companies. There's a reason they don't work at real companies, they could never be effective within a real company. Never. It is so easy to pick on other people, it's like throwing a dart at an elephant from ten feet away. It is hard to enact change within a real company."

Meredith Thompson: "Really hard."

Lois Gladstone: "But let's address the elephant in the room without throwing a dart at it. Does Chip Cayman have a point?"

Roger Morgan: "Of course you'd take his side. No, he doesn't have a point. He's mocking us so that he looks impressive in front of the 600 people he's speaking with. He makes money by destroying people and companies. All of those consultants and vendors make their hay by destroying hard working people. He probably makes twenty times my annual salary, and he does it in sleazy way. I have no respect for him."

Lois Gladstone: "Could we do better than a 1.5% conversion rate among non-catalog shoppers?"

Meredith Thompson: "Lois, you haven't been in this industry very long, so you don't understand the subtleties of a multichannel brand like ours. If we do multichannel marketing well, then we're profitable. We don't look at conversion rates of individual activities. We are the multiplicative result of multichannel marketing activities."

Lois Gladstone: "Didn't you rip Candi Layton for using the same type of lizard logic?"

Meredith Thompson: "No, Candi is talking about Social Media, an unproven marketing channel that nobody is able to use to drive more than 1% or 2% of total sales. We're talking about a proven marketing strategy that has worked for fifteen years."

Lois Gladstone: "Could we do better than a 1.5% conversion rate? Roger, could we do better?"

Roger Morgan: "Yes, if I had the money to make improvements to the website, we could potentially do better."

Kevin: "Maybe as a team, we should stay away from talking about improvements or money or conversion rates. Might we instead focus on the customer? If non-catalog shoppers have a 1.5% conversion rate, it suggests that we aren't meeting the needs of the non-catalog shopper, right? Sure, the website could be fundamentally broken, but by the same token, some of the ugliest websites in the world have the best conversion rates. So the issue isn't about the conversion rate, the issue is about meeting the needs of the non-catalog customer. Does Gliebers Dresses meet or exceed the needs of the non-catalog customer? And if Gliebers Dresses is not meeting or exceeding the needs of the non-catalog customer, then what should Gliebers Dresses do to meet the needs of the non-catalog customer? Or do you even want to meet the needs of the non-catalog customer? Many catalogers don't want to do that, they want to focus on their core catalog customer, so if that is the case, who cares if your website doesn't convert non-catalog traffic? Strategically, it is the responsibility of the management team to assign the reason why you do catalog marketing, customer acquisition, customer loyalty, paid search, e-mail marketing, organic search, affiliate marketing, website design and functionality. Every micro-channel has a reason, and your website has a reason for being. You have to decide if your website is there to take orders from catalog customers, or if it is there to do that as well as convert other shoppers. What is your business model, define it?!! The Executive team sets the strategic direction for the company."

Glenn Glieber: "Well, that was an interesting discussion. Now on to more pressing matters. Roger, I want for you to make sure that when we meet with Pulse Marketing (an online advertising agency) next week, we have those really good sandwiches from Mary's Box Lunches, ok?"


  1. Good points, Kevin. It's absolutely critical to understand what your objectives are online in orders to execute properly. I would also add that it's important to understand what your customers' objectives are. If there are non-catalog customers coming to the site for the purpose of giving you money, do you want to turn them away? At the very least, one should understand the size and potential of that group. While 1.5% are converting, how many are coming with the intention to purpose and leave frustrated. What does that do to future brand loyalty of those folks?

  2. I don't think you ever want to turn away customers who are trying to give you money, unless they are going to return everything!


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