A Chat With January's Profile, Brendan Edgerton, vice president of direct marketing, Crutchfield Co. (Text & Audio)
CS: What do you enjoy most about the catalog/multichannel industry?
BE: There's always an opportunity to learn something new. So even though we have some tried-and-true principles or best practices, the secret is the application of those to different business models. It's important to know when to lean forward and when to conserve in those different areas.
I love the idea that it's an instant gratification game. You don't have to figure out how your efforts are working. I would not be good in a world where I was hanging billboards on highways and trying to figure out the viewing ratio of drive-by or living with store intercept studies. I really enjoy the ability to execute a test, either online or in print immediately, and learn from your results. You need to kind of stay humble, because not everything is going to be a success, but then roll that back into a continuous improvement model. That's what's fun about direct — it's always, I think, moving forward and getting smarter as you go.
CS: And on the flip side, what do you enjoy least about the catalog/multichannel business?
BE: I think socializing with folks outside of the direct space, the power, the import, the impact of this … there's a lot of what I would call “lazy press,” that will identify that the print channel is no longer viable and they'll use certain metrics to sure up that assumption. Swimming upstream against that sensibility can be a frustration.
Other things that I think are interesting about our business is we tend to tolerate a certain level of mediocrity in our execution, and I mean this across the catalog industry. That often in times of economic downturns can come back and bite us, because that's when everybody runs out and starts focusing on optimizing their models or getting more efficient in the mail or conserving costs. And it's unfortunate that it takes those massive, winnowing out time frames to get people focused on doing this well. As an industry I think we have a lot to learn, there are some people who are doing a very good job with it, and the faster that we learn together the more viable our industry becomes and the more we can maintain consumer interest and a level of performance that we've come to enjoy over the years.