The Editor's Take: What's It Really All About Now?
In tough times like these, companies often look for Band-Aids to slap over problems so they can get by. This year we all have problems, and the catalog business isn’t immune to them. In many respects, namely the losing battle they continue to fight with the USPS (although at press time, there was a glimmer of hope for postage to be adjusted downward for larger-volume mailers), catalogers are hurting worse than others.
Since the beginning of this year, my colleagues and I have taken a long, hard look at what’s going on in the general economy and within this business — as well as our own business. I’ve talked to many readers. Our sales team has spoken with many advertisers. We’ve sought to gauge what your needs and concerns are, not just now, but for the next several years. At the recent NEMOA Conference in Boston, I also got an earful on the current and future state of this business as we know it.
Bottom line? A change is gonna come. It simply has to. Bill LaPierre of list firm Millard Group perhaps summed it best up during his NEMOA presentation: “We are sticking to our ink and paper roots, our protective list strategies, and our perception of our brand’s importance. And we are becoming irrelevant in the eyes of the consumer — particularly the consumer buying online.”
In a nutshell, if you think of yours as a catalog or even a multichannel company, you could get left behind. In today’s Web-centric environment, consumers have access to so much information that you can’t go on doing business the way you always have.
The manner in which you sell depends on how your customers want to transact with you. It’s all about the integration of your selling methods so customers will remain your customers for a long time.