Stupid Comment Watch: What Year is This?
By Ken Magill
Please tell me the guy I’m about to quote was quoted out of context. Or at least please tell me the quote was from an interview done in 1999.
USAToday.com last week ran a story headlined: “Why retail catalogs survive, even thrive, in Internet Age.”
“Online spending may be increasing, but the venerable catalog is doing anything but fading away. In fact, it is still an important part of business for retailers,” began the piece.
Okay. Fair enough. It’s certainly reasonable to think Internet sales may eat into catalog sales.
But then the article offered the following:
"’It's basically a marketing tool," said retail analyst Eric Beder, a managing director at Brean Murray, Carret & Co. "The beauty of a catalog is that you don't have to go online to see it, so you can use it anywhere.’"
Um, yes it is basically a marketing tool. And yeah you can use it anywhere, but neither of these properties sets catalogs apart from the Internet.
Has this guy never seen an iPad?
I used to say: “As long as there are men and bathrooms, there will always be print. You can’t carry your computer into the crapper.”
That prediction was one in a long line of examples of why I try not to make them. I always make them incorrectly—except for the one I made in the late-90s about AOL going down because it treated customers so shabbily. I’m still proud of that one.
But for what should be obvious reasons, I no longer say print will never go away.
With the rise of e-readers and mobile devices, print just might go away. And if print does disappear, it will be because these devices trumped one of print’s biggest advantages over other media: portability.
But portability isn’t why catalogs remain viable.
One reason catalogs still work is they help overcome one of mail-order selling’s biggest obstacles: customer inertia.
Catalogs reach people when they’re presumably anticipating and open to new communication. They’re checking their mail, after all.
And with mass unsolicited e-mail being little more than a way to get the company’s servers blacklisted, catalogs remain a necessary prospecting staple.
Direct marketers’ ability to profile and reel in new customers by sending catalogs to mailing lists of known buyers of products like theirs wasn’t even addressed in the USA Today piece.
How much do you want to bet that sometime during the process of interviewing for her catalog piece and writing it—including transcribing the quote touting catalogs’ portability—the USA Today reporter checked her email on her smart phone and clicked through to a Web page?
Maybe even in the bathroom.