The Editor’s Take
They’re full of crap. I’m talking about all these radical-acting environmental groups that are out to destroy the catalog industry as we know it. The theme of this issue — which we changed on the fly only a couple of months ago in light of the growing environmental adversity the catalog/multichannel industry is facing — is very much modeled after the famous Peter Finch line from the 1976 film classic, “Network”: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
I believe in doing whatever it takes to save the environment for my child, any kids he may have some day and so forth. But let’s be realistic: Catalogers need to step up and fend off these accusations that the paper used in catalogs is ruining North American forests, and that catalogs can be found laying all sorts of places, further cluttering the environment. We all know that’s not the case, and we need to educate the public better on this.
No Middle Ground
Shifting gears a bit, some multichannel marketers are full of crap themselves. Some aren’t honoring consumer requests to get off their snail-mail or e-mail lists. But an equal problem, as catalog consultant Sarah Fletcher pointed out to me last month, is that many mailers treat "do not mail" as an all-or-nothing proposition.
Sarah encountered this with a company that was sending her print publications and e-mails she didn’t want. The company, Ziff Davis Media, isn’t a cataloger, but its e-mail practices are certainly similar. Sarah tried to get off the list of one of Ziff’s print publications (eWEEK) for nearly two years, but she kept receiving it. Then Ziff started sending her eWEEK digitally — against her repeated wishes, but it just kept coming. So Sarah e-mailed them again asking to stop sending eWEEK, and Ziff responded by taking her off all of its publications, even though she didn’t request to be removed from Ziff’s other properties.
While simply failing to heed consumers’ requests isn’t necessarily a widespread problem among catalogers, many mailers fail to make midlevel adjustments — namely, giving consumers the opportunity to choose how often and how much they’re mailed.
So I’d like to leave you with a challenge: Make a clear offer in your catalog and in any e-mail you send to customers that empowers them to choose how often they’d like to receive your print catalogs or e-mails. By treating opt-out as an all-or-nothing proposition, you’re not only losing a lot of potential business, you’re also not helping your cause against the radical environmentalists trying to scapegoat this industry.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Check out our Special Report on Sustainability and the Environment to better educate yourself on what you can do, starting with standing up for yourself and your livelihood.