Tis The Season: Let's Start Counting (catalogs, that is)

It’s that time of year again, catalog season. I’ve got nothing against direct marketing and catalog sales per se. But I do have an issue with the amount of waste, unnecessary frequency and overall poor customer profiling and segmentation — at least when it comes to me. And even though I’ve written to the DMA to request that my name be removed from specific and compiled mailing lists, I’m still getting too much mail and way too many catalogs.

Wouldn’t a simple postcard or personal letter inviting me to the online store of these marketers be sufficient? Provide an additional and measurable incentive. The dollars saved on printing and postage could be allocated to customer incentives. Build stronger relationships with customers through incentives with higher perceived value to build loyalty. No. They’d argue that there is no substitution for analog and tactile browsing through printed materials. Kinda like the Sunday New York Times. I don’t care. It’s time to put an end to the waste.

Dateline November 23, 2001: 23 catalogs this week. That’s more than 3 a day. And I’ve received two copies each of the Marshall Field’s Direct and Williams Sonoma Catalogs. Keep in mind, I don’t buy. So I’m confident that any of you who’ve purchased from catalogs recently will receive many more catalogs this season than me. So this year we’re going to have a little fun. Instead of hovering over the trash can while I go through the mail, I’m going to keep all catalogs mailed to me through the end of the year. And for the sake of clarity, I will stack them in a corner of my office and provide weekly updates and pictures here in The Digital Tavern.

Junk mail is nothing new. And with the enormous amount of discussion on email spam, I thought we’d mix it up a bit and see how much spam I get outside my email box. Difference is, of course, these catalogs cost a pretty penny to produce and mail. But like email spam, it’s a numbers game. But the direct marketing gurus at these catalog marketers have it down to a science and very tactically measured return on catalog investment. Even Internet “Superstore” Buy.com has mailed me a catalog. Fact is, most of the gifts I’ll give this season I will either make, purchase online or visit my local merchant.

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