SEATTLE, WA -- Kevin Hillstrom's Mine That Data weblog has some excellent posts on the catalog cancellation craze.  Well, maybe it's not a craze just yet.  But it's gonna be.  Look at this video from Kevin's post ...





About the kids:  Gimme a break.  This is some adult's agenda, and they are using kids to promote their cause.  Seriously.  Non-profits are businesses, too.


When a little girl tells a cameraman that "You can save two trees and some 92 pounds of carbon dioxide being released in the air ..." I want to laugh.  Not because she's wrong or because her cause isn't noble (it is) -- but because to quote Warren Buffett: "You can teach a duck that its mother is a battleship if you get to it early enough."  I have five kids and you can trust me on this one:  Little kids only know what they are told.  We just had a visit from Santa, so let's not get carried away.


About catalogs:  We all get too many catalogs, and my first take on Kevin's posts is that if my kids came home from school and willy-nilly unsubscribed me from all of my catalogs -- I'd be pissed.  Not because I need 56 catalogs coming to me.  But because I probably want five or six of the ones they canceled.


And maybe that's the point of Catalog Choice.  The consumer chooses what they want and don't want.  I understand the mathematics of catalog marketing.  I know all about prospecting.  But perhaps this flap/ trend/ shake-out/ whatever is a blessing in disguise.


All marketers need to take a page from Seth Godin and communicate with their customers in a way that's CRAP: Consistent, Relevant, Anticipated, and Personal.  And when catalogers prospect, they should do it in a way that saves pages.  It is possible -- but catalogers don't do it, I presume, because of the way their organizations are structured and incentivized.  Bummer, because you can't talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into.


But hey.  I'm just a marketing recruiter.  Yet even I know about better targeting and niche marketing -- which means that far brighter minds than mine can avail themselves to the problem.  The catalog industry has many great consultants.  But sadly, just because catalogers know what to do in the face of this growing crisis doesn't mean that they'll do it.


Several years ago I bought ~$1000 worth of used Dan Kennedy, Joe Cossman, Gary Halbert, Melvin Powers and Jay Abraham tapes off of eBay.  Roughly 150 in all.  Best marketing education I ever got.  Halbert, called the Prince of Print by his adoring fans, repeatedly said that if you have 3000 SKUs and you want to prospect -- narrow it down to one irresistibly offered item mailed with sniper-like precision to exactly the right prospect.  Gerardo Joffe said the same thing.


Trouble is, catalogers mail an entire book to prospects.  Statistically speaking, this is an inefficient approach -- for them and the prospect.  And now it's a politically incorrect approach as well.


So now we have an election year witch hunt, where a "green cataloger" is an oxymoron -- like a jumbo shrimp.  Too bad.  Direct mail is a very effective marketing channel, when properly used.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter specializing in integrated marketing and "new media." He has been featured in MarketingSherpa's Great Minds in Marketing series and received coverage in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal Online. According to Viral Garden's weekly rankings, Harry's weblog MarketingHeadhunter.com is one of the top 25 marketing weblogs in the world.