Acquire, Synergize, Dominate
The old Banana Republic catalogs from the 1980s used to feature several vignettes about the adventures of co-founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler, where they talked about how they found this neat, safari-esque stuff on recent journeys. These were classics. They’re bound for some yet-to-be-founded catalog Hall of Fame. Personally, I looked forward to getting those catalogs and always spent at least an hour with each.
Around that same time, PaperDirect also was mailing catalogs. They had vignettes in them, too, but they were from PaperDirect product users — people who were employing the products you were looking at in the catalog. If your vignette was printed, you may have received lots of free PaperDirect stuff. These, too, were cool catalogs. Back when PCs were new and we were all learning the myriad uses of them, PaperDirect was there to help with neat letterhead, trifolds, envelopes, postcards and more.
Both of these catalogs were as cool as Duran Duran and big hair back then. They stood out because they had noteworthy editorial differences. Namely, the storytelling.
Another story from the same time period with perhaps an even stronger message, in part because it’s ongoing, is the Franklin Quest Co. Founded around 1981, Franklin Quest, with its Franklin Planner line, was one of several companies competing in the diary/planner space then dominated by Day-Timers and its Day-Timer product line. There were, and still are, several companies in this business.
But Franklin Planner surged ahead of the pack, primarily because of a move the company made in 1997. Until this time, Franklin was simply another player in the field. But then it bought Covey Leadership Center, merging the daily/weekly planner concept with the man who gave it all purpose in the 1980s — Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and subsequent works along the same lines.