November 27, 2011

Dear Catalog CEOs: Steroids

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Of course you remember the steroid problem in Major League Baseball.

This past year, two hitters bopped more than 40 home runs.  Two.

Ten years ago, folks were bopping 60 homers, setting records with 73 home runs.

You kinda knew something was amiss "back in the day".  It was entertaining to watch swollen hitters launch missiles into the stratosphere, a sports-based shock and awe campaign if there ever was one.  

But in your heart, you knew that something was wrong.

Fast forward to November 27, 2011.  Yes, it's time for what has become a time-honored tradition called "Cyber Monday".  Chief Marketing Officers from near and far are "forced" to dream up scintillating offers that tickle the buying bone of "today's savvy, price-driven, in-charge social-consumer".  Simply put, you can't let your competitor offer 25% off plus free shipping, you have to "compete", right?  So you "compete", you offer 30% off plus free shipping.

Your brand and all that surrounds it is baseball.

30% off plus free shipping, for no other reason than to chase sales and "stay competitive" ... well, that's steroids.

We learned that steroids have side effects.

30% off plus free shipping has side effects, as well.

Since your team is already analyzing everything in real time, ask that your team provide you with one of those beautiful infographics, first-thing tomorrow morning.  Here's the information they need to provide in the infographic:

  1. How many of your Cyber Monday customers are first-time buyers that you would not otherwise have acquired?
  2. What is the lifetime value of a discount-based customer acquired on Cyber Monday, vs. a full-price customer acquired the day after Cyber Monday?
  3. Of the existing customers who purchased on Cyber Monday, how many were previously full-price customers?
  4. What happens to the lifetime value of a full-price customer who purchases because of an email campaign offering deep discounts on Cyber Monday?
  5. Of all sales generated on Cyber Monday, what percentage were time-shifted from before/after Cyber Monday into Cyber Monday?
  6. For the past six years, run a profit and loss statement for the time period of November 1 through Cyber Monday.  Are there any changes in customer spend and customer profitability in this timeframe, over the past six years?  If there aren't fundamental changes in sales and profitability, then debate what impact Cyber Monday truly has on your business.
Steroids have their place.  If you've ever had a sinus infection, you appreciate what steroids can do for you.

Save your 30% off plus free shipping promotions for the times when you truly need them.

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