So Who’s Laughing Now?
Funny isn’t it that only a short time ago some people were telling jokes about print media such as catalogs, direct mail, magazines and newspapers. Many said these forms of communication would be dead as dinosaurs in a few years, thanks to the advent of the Internet as a marketing channel. Some even abandoned their long-time work in the print media industries in search of more glamorous jobs out in the great World Wide Web.
But look inside your mailbox today and, lo and behold, you may find a catalog or brochure from one of the leading online marketers. Those who laughed at us are now emulating us!
“Even e-tailing heavyweight Amazon.com Inc. is starting to see the light,” writes Ellen Neuborne, in her column on e-tailing in BusinessWeek e.biz (Aug. 6, 2001). “After mailing out brochures for Christmas and Father’s Day, Amazon tested the waters with a catalog of home and garden products that included a toll-free number for orders.”
What happened to cause the sea change? Two things, I think. First, more and more Internet companies found that to drive traffic to their Web sites, good-old fashioned paper direct marketing was the way to go. RedEnvelope was one Internet company that turned to a print catalog to help promote its brand to an offline audience.
Founded in 1997 as 911 Gifts and relaunched in 1999 as Web-based RedEnvelope, the company unveiled its first print catalog in February of 2000. As CEO Martin McLanan told attendees at the 2001 Catalog Conference in Boston in June: “A catalog gives a Web-only business credibility.”
The second reason: Internet marketers realized how direct marketing know-how could help them to weather the current economic storm and continue to build their businesses. “The direct marketing mindset has proved invaluable on the Web,” Elaine Rubin, chairperson of Shop.org, the online group of the National Retail Federation, told BusinessWeek e.biz.