January 30, 2011

Dear Catalog CEOs: Objectives Review

Dear Catalog CEOs:

It's been about a month since you were provided with twelve goals and objectives for 2011.  Please review each objective, and comment on the progress you've made, year-to-date.  Where are you making progress, where are you falling behind, and what resources do you need to complete each objective?  

As you know, you don't create objectives for the fun of it ... objectives are there for a reason, they are designed to push the business into the future, and they are designed to maximize profit.  You don't forget about objectives, you review them month after month after month until you find a way to knock the door down and achieve them.

Contact me (click here) for assistance as needed.

Objective #1 = New Customers:  On the existing marketing budget, increase the number of new customers by 15% in 2011.

Objective #2 = Page Counts and Frequency:  Through September 30, test alternate page counts, identifying the page count that yields the deepest circulation, most demand, most profit, and most new customers.  Roll-out a strategy for 2012 that significantly decreases page counts to average and marginal customers while maintaining contact frequency.

Objective #3 = Mobile:  By June 30, implement a mobile app that is congruent with the lifestyle needs of your target customer.  By December 31, accurately measure the impact this mobile app has on customer spend.

Objective #4 = Social Media:  Make social media the top objective for your customer service team, and for your marketing team.  Require each marketing employee to spend 20 minutes each day maintaining a corporate Twitter presence, and capture every tweet from every individual who communicates with your employees, integrating that data into your customer data warehouse.  By November 30, craft a plan for using social media as a customer service competitive advantage in 2012, based on what you learn about social media through November 30.  Or, prove that Social Media is largely meaningless and does not contribute to the bottom line!

Objective #5 = E-Mail and Search:  Conduct database analyses that demonstrate how customers interact with catalogs, e-mail, and search.  For instance, how many searches are driven by catalog mailings?  Thoroughly know the role of each channel in the customer experience!  By March 31, present findings to Executive Team, by April 30, present findings to every department in the company.  By May 31, develop an integrated marketing plan that incorporates your findings.

Objective #6 = Profit:  Demonstrate that every employee in the marketing department is able to calculate profit by February 28.  Assign one test in 2011 to every employee in the marketing department, requiring each employee to write up the results of the test, down to profitability.  Share the results of each test with every employee in the company.  Also, increase the profitability of all marketing activities by 15% in 2011 on the same level of ad spend.

Objective #7 = Web Analytics:  By December 31, link all website visits to existing customers in the customer data warehouse, and begin implementing website visitation behavior in all catalog and e-mail selections.  If this cannot be done in-house, contact the folks at any large Web Analytics provider for tips and suggestions.

Objective #8 = Benchmarking:  Visit a non-competitive but similarly-sized catalog brand for a two-day "sharing session".  Each party spends one day sharing how they review their business with the other party.  Open and honest discussions are highly encouraged.  Do this by April 30, 2011.

Objective #9 = Succession Planning:  Identify two individuals who are qualified to replace you, and create a plan for enhancing their odds of succession.  Do this by March 31, 2011.

Objective #10 = Catalog 2015:  By October 31, 2011, craft a thesis called "Catalog 2015".  Illustrate to the Executive Team where the future of catalog marketing is headed, what are the threats to the industry, what are the competitive advantages, and what is the likely contact strategy and new customer acquisition plan required to optimize catalog and online marketing in 2015.  What are the demographics and geographic characteristics of your customer base?  Will your customers be alive, or be in a prime spending cohort in 2015?  What do you do if it costs 2.5x to 3x as much to mail a catalog in 2015 as it costs today?  What do you do if mail delivery is limited to three days a week?  What do you do if catalog productivity drops 30% in the next five years?  What do you do if you have to have free shipping, all day, every day, 24/7/365?  Share the future direction of catalog marketing and the response of our company to future challenges with every employee by December 31, 2011.

Objective #11 = Discounts/Promotions:  By February 15, demonstrate to every employee in the company what annual sales and annual profit would look like if all discounts and promotions were discontinued.  Create a full-price profit and loss statement, and a discount/promo profit and loss statement, on an annual basis.

Objective #12 = Merchandise:  By June 30, thoroughly understand the items that must be featured on the home page, on key landing pages, in e-mail campaigns, and in the first twenty pages of every catalog, in order to maximize company profitability.  Implement your findings into all Q4 campaigns.

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