Find Ways to Promote Your Inconvenient, Truthful Actions
* E-commerce (mid- to late 1990s): Catalogers were early adaptors in navigating the online world. They already had the corporate infrastructure, were better versed in direct marketing than all those overcapitalized dot-com-cum-dot-gone disasters and successfully stared down most of them (play that Elton John song, “I’m Still Standing” here).
The beauty of the evolution of the Web is how it didn’t just go boom and hit catalogers with a desperate need to suddenly make huge investments. It took the Internet, the Web, e-commerce, whatever you want to call it, a good seven or eight years to truly hit the mainstream. That gave catalogers enough time to invest gradually and affordably and maximize its value.
So how will the sustainability movement play out in this business? If you’re among those who are just waking up to the do-not-mail legislation threat, that’s OK, but start doing your homework on this ASAP. You don’t have to fly to Washington and bang on the doors of congressmen and senators, but you certainly should write your congressman to alert him about the value of catalog shopping and its positive impact on the environment — particularly how catalog/online shopping keeps cars off the roads.
Also, ensure your future by investing more heavily (though it’s OK to invest deliberately) in Web prospecting alternatives, such as search and affiliate marketing. Be prepared in case do-not-call really happens. If you’re caught off guard, you’ll go out of business practically overnight.
Finally, keep closer tabs on your customers’ worldliness. There’s still a ways to go, but more middle Americans care about the environment these days — at least more of them are becoming aware of the harm mankind is doing to the environment (pardon the dramatics).
If you can demonstrate you’re doing more to save the environment, more of them will want to do business with you. That’s how you can actually appreciate a bottom-line benefit from this nearly two-decade-long movement in the makings.