June 28, 2016

Catalog Craig Paperman on #Brexit

Yes, this is business fiction, though you know there's truth in it ... if this stuff isn't your cup of tea, read this article (click here) about Chicago Cubs Guru Theo Epstein ... and think about what it means when a business puts a young person in a position of authority.

Kevin: Are you looking forward to Canada Day, Mr. Paperman?

Craig: What?

Kevin: Canada Day. July 1. Canada's independence.

Craig: I'm an American.

Kevin: #merica.

Craig: What?

Kevin: You love July 4, don't you?

Craig: Red. White. Blue. Parade at eleven. Hot dogs in the afternoon. Fireworks at night. I use a pristene 1920x1080 image of the American Flag as the wallpaper on my desktop computer. I get chills just thinking about it.

Kevin: You like to follow the script others write, don't you?

Craig: It's the straightest path to success.

Kevin: How do you feel about Brexit?

Craig: The last thing I need is a 20% sales hit in our UK business because of something out of my control, on top of a currency disaster.

Kevin: Nothing like scraping 30% right off of your revenue line.

Craig: Exactly!

Kevin: You followed the trade journal script of opening a division in the UK, and now look at what following the script earned you?

Craig: International expansion is a best practice. Ask anybody.

Kevin: Uh huh.

Craig: Oh come on, you have to believe that it is smart to launch a UK catalog division. They're at least seven years behind us over there in e-commerce, so catalogs are a great idea. Now we're getting killed over there.

Kevin: A best practice is causing you to lose money? Doesn't sound like a best practice to me.

Craig: It's not my fault, dude.

Kevin: Of course it is your fault!

Craig: How?

Kevin: It's your job to pick smart expansion opportunities. You need to protect your brand, hedge against risk. You placed a bet, and now that bet turned out to be really risky.

Craig: I didn't do anything wrong.

Kevin: When business was good in the UK two years ago, who was responsible?

Craig: I was!

Kevin: And in the past three days, when sales sunk 20% and the exchange rate worked against you, who is responsible?

Craig: Voters.

Kevin: So you are responsible when risks pay off, and you are not responsible when risks cost your brand money, is that right?

Craig: Trade journalists told me that international expansion was a best practice. They hosted a free webinar. I attended. Their ideas made sense to me.

Kevin: Did the trade journalist expand into the UK?

Craig: What?

Kevin: If you should be in the UK, why shouldn't the trade journalist expand her business into the UK?

Craig: Um.

Kevin: Yeah, um!

Craig: It's not the same business model. You shouldn't compare apples and oranges.

Kevin: The trade journalist gets paid by vendors who want you to expand into the UK, you expand into the UK, and now your UK business is in chaos while the vendor keeps paying the trade journalist and you keep paying the vendor. Who's getting paid in this scenario?

Craig: Who?

Kevin: Everybody in the catalog ecosystem except you!!

Craig: I did what they told me to do.

Kevin: Just like the voters who support Trump or Sanders or Leave the EU ... they historically did what they were told to do ... and when their lives didn't improve, heck, they got worse, the used the only tool they had ... the vote ... to beg for a change, any change, even a change that may harm them more in the short-term or even long-term ... or maybe the change will help them. But anything has to be better than their current situation.

Craig: We don't get a vote in the world of catalog marketing. How should I vote my concerns?

Kevin: With your dollars and attention. Pick your partners carefully. Somebody is always getting paid, Craig. With your dollars.

Craig: But I attended the Online Shopper conference. One of the keynote speakers said we should be in the UK.

Kevin: And who got paid in that situation?

Craig: Online Shopper?

Kevin: By who?

Craig: Me!

Kevin: Did the speaker get paid?

Craig: The speaker paid a $20,000 sponsorship fee and earned a keynote as a consequence.

Kevin: That's messed up.

Craig: I know, that's a lot of value for $20,000, don't you think?

Kevin: Does Online Shopper have a UK conference where they share their brilliant lineup of thought leadership excellence with the UK audience?

Craig: No.

Kevin: So everybody telling you to expand into the UK is unwilling themselves to expand into the UK?

Craig: Oh oh.

Kevin: You listened to them. You did what they told you to do. And now your UK business is suffering due to resident angst.

Craig: It's not my fault.

Kevin: But those who told you to be in the UK did not expand into the UK themselves, so they are not exposed to the business issues that they told you were aligned with best practices that would make you rich.

Craig: It's not my fault.

Kevin: Of course it is your fault!!! You are accountable.

Craig: It's their fault! They sold me a bill of goods. Now I'm facing political and economic headwinds.

Kevin: Is it ever your fault?

Craig: And stop beating up our ecosystem partners. I love attending the Online Shopper conference. I paid $1,499 last year and got to see Sheryl Crow perform!!

Kevin: You could have seen her perform for $49 at the Coliseum last month.

Craig: There was a tower of prawns right next to the stage. You could literally go up to the stage and shake her hand while she belted out "Every Day Is A Winding Road" and then load up on a plastic bowl full of prawns. I made five trips to the prawn tower. That's what $1,499 buys you. Access. Access to thought leaders. Access to Sheryl Crow.

Kevin: Alright.

Craig: I got back to my hotel room at 2:00am after she sang "Are You Strong Enough To Be My Man" or whatever that song was. What an emotional moment. Great conference! Great time!

Kevin: Alright.

Craig: So the next time you want to criticize me for spending $1,499 to hear thought leaders tell me to expand into the UK, think about the tender moment I got to spend eating prawns while standing next to Sheryl Crow. Our industry is on the right path. Even if my business is suffering because of the choices they told me to make, I just need to stay the course and follow the script.

Kevin: #OhBoy.

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