November 06, 2011

Dear Catalog CEOs: Do Everything

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Have you had an opportunity to view this "infographic", as the kids call 'em?

The graph illustrates how music spread and evolved over the course of a century.  Pay close attention to what happens after 1980 ... everything accelerates, music is influenced by different continents and different genres.

The pundits will tell you that this is the reason you have to be "multichannel" ... they want you to "do everything".  If you don't "do everything", you won't reach your "target" customer.  Then, the pundits tell you something like ... "in these challenging economic times, brands that don't relate to today's sophisticated shopper across all channels do so at their own peril".

At their own peril?!

The infographic represents the kind of marketing environment we deal with.  We have to figure out where we reside in the ecosystem.  We don't have to do everything.  In the infographic, "rock and roll" just kind of ends ... there isn't a logical connection from "rock and roll" to, say, "synth pop", is there?

Nor is there a logical connection from "catalogs" to "Twitter".  We're told there is a logical connection, but there isn't.  All sorts of people figure out how to use Twitter to grow business.  Not many companies figure out how to connect catalog marketing and Twitter.

Every day that we try to chase channels, trying to "do everything", is an additional day that we failed to focus on merchandise productivity.  We're better off figuring out where we reside in the ecosystem, then capitalizing on our place in the ecosystem.  There's nothing wrong with growing a business on Twitter, assuming a scalable business can be grown on Twitter.  There is something fundamentally wrong with assuming one can connect the past to a version of the future.

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