So, my sense is that you should best spend your time at the ACCM as well as at other catalog/multichannel-related, non-e-commerce conferences by exploring new ways to do not-so-new things. Many of these topics — such as catalog circulation, marketing, merchandising, creative, etc. — obviously do have an e-commerce element or influence on them. But think about learning new-school tricks for old-school practices. Consider these three:
* Circulation. If you think you know all there is to know about catalog circulation, think again. Postal rate increases, maturation of the co-op database “industry,” the proliferation of online ordering, and other key factors are forcing you to re-learn circulation and revamp your strategies.
* Creative. There’s also plenty new to learn in creative. Take how you pose your models, as a rather off-the-beaten-path example. Many catalogers aren’t going for the quick sell in print books anymore. You want your customers to jump over to the Web, find all your inventory and buy more. This means that your models just might need to strike slightly different poses with that in mind.
* Merchandising. Beyond the obvious (“Make your merchandise unique!” — no kidding!), you’d be wise to attend sessions that focus on how to choose products for your print catalog vs. your Web site vs. your stores, if you operate any. Merchandisers are editors more so than ever before, editing down their company’s product line so the right products are offered in the catalog vs. the Web vs. retail.
That’s not to say you should completely turn yourself off to e-commerce-related sessions at these conferences. I’d strongly recommend your attendance at any multichannel integration sessions you can find. Although sessions that focus on key issues to catalogers, such as matchbacks, branding and contact strategies, certainly have a heavy e-commerce element to them, they’re just as much about catalog marketing as anything else. So, don’t miss out on them, either.