September 09, 2018

Another Discussion With Catalog Craig Paperman



Kevin: Craig, you look like the delivery of your September catalog is slow, is everything ok?

Craig: I'm still thinking about your visit to our brand last week.

Kevin: It was a good meeting, wasn't it?

Craig: I have no idea why the marketing team invited you. I didn't invite you.

Kevin: Then why didn't you just cancel the meeting?

Craig: I don't like to micro-manage my team.

Kevin: Alright.

Craig: One thing I learned in the meeting is that you don't accept criticism well.

Kevin: Why do you say that?

Craig: You had a lot of ideas in the meeting. But you seemed to get frustrated when we told you why the ideas wouldn't work.

Kevin: Give me an example.

Craig: You told us to only send prospect catalogs with winning merchandise. That's a bad idea.

Kevin: I've seen it work over and over and over again.

Craig: See, you don't accept criticism well.

Kevin: You are criticizing an idea that has worked repeatedly for catalogers for thirty or more years.

Craig: Again, you are being defensive. You don't accept criticism.

Kevin: Your team paid me to give you ideas. This is as simple an idea as you are ever going to find. Just execute it and enjoy the sales and profit.

Craig: Look at you. You keep harping on the topic. The idea won't work. Give me an idea that will work.

Kevin: You could do something simple like personalize your email campaigns.

Craig: That's stupid.

Kevin: No, it's something that many companies do to increase sales by about 20% in their email campaigns.

Craig: See, you don't accept criticism well. 

Kevin: But it is so easy to do, just personalize via customer merchandise preference. It takes almost no work and you generate sales and profit. Isn't that why you are in business in the first place?

Craig: Personalization isn't appropriate in an omnichannel environment. We're supposed to offer a unified message. There's nothing unified about a thousand different messages in email campaigns.

Kevin: Isn't it best to do what is right for the customer?

Craig: Again, you cannot accept criticism. You keep pushing back. Why not just accept that you are wrong and that we're right? Just concede the argument and we can move on.

Kevin: There's nothing to concede. Just execute a simple tactic and pick up the dollar bills that float down from above.

Craig: You are a public voice, and if you are going to be a public voice, you have to accept criticism.

Kevin: I want to make sure I understand your thesis. Most companies execute the simple tactics that you aren't executing. They're making money doing it. Your response to the ideas is to criticize me and then suggest that I'm not not capable of accepting your criticism?

Craig: I know it's frustrating to be on the wrong side of an argument. But you can be gracious and admit you are wrong. I mean, your ideas wouldn't work at our brand. We're unique, and we're special.

Kevin: I shared twenty different ideas with your Leadership Team. Your team didn't want to execute any of them.

Craig: And that's because they are bad ideas.

Kevin: I said you needed more new merchandise. I have data to prove that you are starving your customer of new merchandise. So how is my idea a bad idea?

Craig: Because our merchandising team knows that our customers love trend-right merchandise.

Kevin: What does that even mean?

Craig: See, you just cannot accept constructive criticism.

Kevin: I'm trying to help you.

Craig: Try harder!

Kevin: You could save money by mailing online buyers less often.

Craig: That's silly. We're a cataloger. We send catalogs. Period. Bad idea.

Kevin: With the money you save you could find new customers using other tactics.

Craig: We're not going to be like 4imprint and advertise on SiriusXM. That's a dumb idea.

Kevin: I didn't tell you to do that.

Craig: Again, you cannot accept criticism. It's a bad idea.

Kevin: Saving money so that you can spend more money acquiring customers, even via catalogs, that's a bad idea?

Craig: Um.

Kevin: Your vendors would love to help you spend more money elsewhere. They'd love to track your website visitors and then have you put a postcard into the mail instead of a catalog while saving money and then using the money to spend with the catalog co-ops. You win, your vendors win. 

Craig: Bad idea, nobody is going to respond to a postcard.

Kevin: Then send a 48 page catalog with only winning items.

Craig: Bad idea, as pages increase postage is free.

Kevin: But paper and printing aren't free.

Craig: Nevertheless.

Kevin: Ok, then send an 80 page catalog with a personalized assortment based on what the customer viewed online.

Craig: Then we aren't saving any money and worse, nobody can forecast inventory levels properly if everybody is receiving a different merchandise assortment.

Kevin: And yet e-commerce brands somehow forecast inventory well and they don't have catalogs and square inches to use as a planning tool, do they?

Craig: E-commerce brands have nothing to do with us. It's clear from this discussion that our business is too complicated for a simpleton consultant like yourself to offer any valuable insights.

Kevin: Are you kidding me?

Craig: See, you don't accept criticism well, do you?

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