November 04, 2012

Dear Catalog CEOs: This I Believe

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Compare / Contrast this list with what your favorite vendor tells you.  Thoughts?

I believe there are only a handful of metrics that matter.
  1. 12 Month Buyer Annual Repurchase Rate.
  2. Number of New + Reactivated Customers, Last 12 Months.
  3. Annual Profit Dollars.
  4. The Organic Percentage, the % of demand that happens independent of advertising.
I believe that customer loyalty is product driven, not marketing driven, not discount driven, not driven by points given for purchases made.  How do you like your loyalty program at Apple, or Wal-Mart?

I believe in profit dollars.

I believe most people can't even calculate profit.

I believe engagement as a marketing concept is fraudulent, until somebody proves that "x" points of engagement yield "y" dollars of profit.

I believe that customer acquisition is the most important marketing tactic.  While your competitors are spending $100 trying to get 1 customer to spend 10% more, I'd rather spend $100 acquiring a new customer, so that I have 2 customers.

I believe that all of the little operational details make a ton of difference.

I believe that most of us don't want to focus on all of the little operational details, because they are terribly boring and we don't get credit for doing a good job on all of the little operational details.

I believe that most online marketing tactics (search, affiliates, display/retargeting, comparison shopping engines) are demand capturing tactics.  We view them as separate channels.  In many ways, they aren't.

I believe that social media, for customers over the age of 45, will never generate sales and profit.

I believe that social media, for customers under the age of 30, must be built into the fabric of the product being sold.

I believe that mobile will transform the careers of e-commerce professionals, in the same way that e-commerce transformed the careers of catalog marketers.

I believe that the co-ops are unknowingly accelerating the long-term death of catalog marketing by constantly feeding you 55+ rural customers, further disconnecting you from the average American customer.

I believe your primary reason for being is to sell merchandise.

I believe that many of you think your primary reason for being is to create a catalog.

I believe catalogers have no passion for email marketing, primarily because email marketing competes with catalog marketing on demand generation.

I believe that best practices are, at best, mediocre practices, designed to prevent you from both being fired and from being excellent.

I believe we focus too much energy on noise.

I believe we focus little energy on signal.

I believe we should all shift to 2-day shipping with a hurdle (i.e. $100), using savings in catalog marketing expense to pay for free shipping.

I believe that online marketers are ruining our businesses by obsessing about conversion rates.  Why is it we work so hard on improving conversion rates, only to see customers have the exact same annual repurchase rates, and orders per buyer per year as in 1995?

I believe that "omnichannel" is as pointless as "multichannel" was.  How much more profitable are you today than in 1995, given that you now have an unlimited number of channels to use in your marketing mix?

I believe research organizations and trade journalists should be held accountable for making terrible predictions, and for offering opinions that yield page views for them and fail to generate profit for you.

I believe that executives are much, much smarter than folks on Twitter given them credit for being.

I believe that there isn't enough leadership, today.  Leadership comes from analysts, managers, directors, and executives.

I believe it is wrong to spend more than four hours a day in meetings.

I believe every employee in every company should earn an annual bonus, one based on exceeding goals for annual profit dollars generated.  This goal should be shared across all employees, so that every employee is pointing to the same outcome.

I believe we don't know how to objectively analyze customer data anymore, it's a lost art.  We've been deluded by strongly worded opinions about where the customer may or may not go in the future, causing us to not even measure what customers are doing today.

I believe it is wrong to judge the future based on a survey of 943 likely purchasers.

I believe that lumping the iPad in with mobile is bad form, designed to make mobile look far more important than it actually is.

I believe we have a responsibility to teach younger employees how business actually works.

I believe we have a responsibility to implement the ideas of younger employees.

I believe big data is marketing and IT hype.  How many people do you know that are good with any kind of data?

I believe that we have traded true strategy for buzzwords.  How much profit are the buzzwords generating for us?

I believe that discounts and promotions are taxes placed upon brands for being unremarkable.

I believe Cyber Monday is a meaningless holiday, one that bloggers and trade journalists use to generate page views while criticizing "brands" or cheering for increasingly unprofitable promotions.

I believe that if you're going to generate page views by criticizing "brands", you should try getting a job at a leading "brand" and see how the real world works.

I believe that there is no good reason to "integrate marketing messages across channels". Prove to me that integrated marketing results in a significant increase in annual net sales, and annual profitability, and I'll potentially change my belief.  Until then, we are sacrificing the unique strengths of each channel at the alter of integrated marketing.

I believe that it is really hard to prove a correlation between campaign success and annual sales/profit increases.

I believe that discounts and promotions are inherently unfair. Why should a great customer pay full price on a Wednesday, not knowing that on Thursday you'll offer the customer 30% off plus free shipping?  Describe why the customer should ever trust us again?

I believe the best way to prove that a marketing channel is invaluable is to remove it from the marketing mix for one month, and then measure the change in sales/profit that results from not having that channel.

I believe that when we don't want to execute tests that we don't want to know the truth.

I believe that most of the misinformation we read about comes from people with good intentions.

Ok, your turn.  What do you believe in?


  1. I oppose your statement, most of the people calculates their profits, with out knowing their profits they can't increase their business.

    List of marketing careers

  2. Best. Post. Ever.

    This is a great list of the truth out there.

  3. Thank you, Jay ... nice comments on a quiet day!

  4. Don Libey10:30 AM


    You have succeeded in creating a "Manifesto". Here, for the first time in my memory or experience, is the essence of marketing common sense that is "truth" without the usual self-serving nonsense.

    With this, you move from the position of expert and sage observer to that of philosopher. This is the perspective and intellectual integrity that every CEO should be seeking for their Board of Directors.

  5. That's nice to say, Don, thanks! If you looked at my stats, you'd see that this isn't something that is "going viral". I tend to find that the most valuable posts are least likely to go viral. Mission accomplished!

  6. I believe that everyone has some form/ level of ADD...get to the point.

    I believe that you can't be everything to everyone every time.

    I know nothing all the time.

  7. I believe that true collaboration between the business, the marketers and the analyst leads to better results

    I believe that this level of collaboration only happens when truly great leadership is in place

    I believe that a "live a day in their shoes" experience would break down barriers between job functions

    I believe it's tough to come up with new examples when your list is so thorough. Nice, handy list Kevin.

  8. I believe marketers of all stripes should read this post once a month.

  9. I believe that you nailed it!

    I also believe that we need to prove out the concepts of integrated marketing because a consistent, coordinated cross channel strategy does work.

    Nice work, as always.


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