March 03, 2013

Dear Catalog CEOs: Sixth Anniversary Of MineThatData

Dear Catalog CEOs:

I started MineThatData six years ago this week.


Show of hands ... how many of you thought I'd make it six years?  Most of you?  Good.  Because when I told folks I was starting my own business, the feedback was interesting.
  • "Good for you, you're starting your own business, well done! ........ You said you're going to market your services with a blog?  Oh boy.  That's not going to work ........ What you do mean, you're going to give your methodologies away, for free, on your blog?  How does that work? ........ Wait a minute.  You're saying you're going to share everything you know for free, and then companies will pay you to do the very thing you just taught them to do on your blog? ........ Kevin, you know that nobody reads blogs, right?  People read MultiChannel Merchant, not you! ........ What do you mean, you'll build an audience, one subscriber at a time?  Tell me how you're going to do that, are you going to take out ads in DMNews? ........ Wait, you're not going to pay for marketing, people are just going to magically find you via word-of-mouth, or via Google?  You almost sound like one of those social media experts ........ You'll be working for the co-ops in a matter of months, they offer health insurance, your certainly not going to pay $1,500 a month for the right to enjoy a $3,000 per year co-pay, that's terribly expensive, especially when you're giving all of your knowledge away for free. ........ What services are you going to provide, anyway? ........ Multichannel Forensics?  Who needs that?  We already know customers who buy from multiple channels are worth eight times as much as single channel customers are.  Look at companies like Circuit City, they offer buy online and pickup in stores.  They have a multichannel approach that will crush Amazon. ........ Wait, did I just hear you correctly?  Did you just say you're going to tell catalogers that they can mail fewer catalogs and be much more profitable?  Oh, you're a piece of work.  You're going to tell catalogers to be more profitable by mailing less.  That's not how the world works. ........ Kevin, Nordstrom discontinued a catalog and grew sales because they are a retailer with a one-hundred year heritage, that won't work for anybody else. ........ no, Kevin, it doesn't matter what you experienced there, it is irrelevant. ........ the co-ops tell us to mail more. ........ What do you mean, co-ops have a vested interest in telling us to mail more catalogs? ........ What do you mean when you say that someday the USPS might be insolvent and it won't be cost-effective to mail catalogs anymore? ........ No, nobody would ever threaten to take Saturday mail delivery away. ....... Did I just hear you correctly?  You're recommending that catalogers focus on acquiring new customers?  Don't you know that it costs eight times as much to acquire a new customer as it costs to retain a customer? ........ You have a 5-year forecast model that proves your hypothesis?  Sure you do!  Who are you, Carnac the Magnificent?  ........ Are you saying that if we keep retaining the same customers, we'll end up with a customer base that is heading toward retirement and that's a bad thing? ....... These ideas are nuts.  You'll be lucky if anybody hires you. ........ Wait, what?  You're saying you'll charge less than vendors or industry consultants?  That's your business model?  Give away all of your intellectual property for free, then for the handful of people who do want to pay for your services, you'll charge less than everybody else charges?  I've heard enough.  You're nuts.  I'll put in a good word for you with the co-ops when you're homeless in a year. ........ No, Kevin, housing prices always rise, go look at the historical trends and make a data-driven decision. ........ Ok, good luck, you're going to need it!"
After 2,311 blog posts, 323,000 unique visitors, 14,500 tweets, 100+ brands analyzed, six years, nearly 3,000 blog subscribers, 4,530 Twitter followers, 2 books, and 9 booklets, I'm still standing, better than I ever did.

Thanks to my clients.  You believed in me.

Thanks to those of you who subscribe to my blog.  You, too, believed in me.

Thanks to those of you who follow me on Twitter.  That's where we ferret-out new ideas.  It's been a priceless experience.

Three hundred and twenty-three thousand unique visitors to the blog.  That's not a trivial number.  I thought you couldn't make a blog work that gives ideas away for free?  70% of my business is sourced from the blog.  Think about that, for a moment.

If I am going to make it six more years, I'd appreciate some feedback.  What do you need to learn about or understand?  What services should I provide for you?  What content do you want to read (for free, of course)?  After three million page views, we'll need to innovate going forward, so please use the comments section to provide feedback.

I appreciate your patronage.  I do not take your loyalty for granted, not for a moment.



  1. One of the things that I notice in posts is that you have a lot of knowledge in how tactics perform in consumer databases (PPC, Social, Email, etc.). For the average digital marketer/web analyst, they may not understand how you are able to do that type of analysis? Could you talk more about how to properly tag consumer segments that come to the site as well as how to use them in deeper analysis? Might be giving away too much, but I am interested in this area.

  2. Hi Jeff, to be honest, I do not use tagging technology to do any of my work. Everything is done in SPSS, with a lot of programming work. Tagging, in combination with web analytics software, is just too limiting to do what I need to do.

    I wouldn't be giving too much away by sharing it. But the analyst needs to acquire another set of skills to apply it.


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