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Conspicuous Absence



Conspicuous Absence


We think you will enjoy this recent blog posting from our good friend, Bill Lapierre, whose contact information is at the end of the posting.

I’m going to keep this short because most of you are reading this on what will turn out to be the highest volume order and sales day of the year at your respective catalog companies.

In last week’s posting, I gave a list of reasons why sales were disappointing so far this season for most catalogs in the US. Kevin Hillstrom did me the honor of mentioning my posting in his blog, citing the fact that I had called out “great merchandise” as one of the few reasons that a few catalogs were actually doing well this season. (Getting a mention in Kevin’s blog is like getting an acknowledgement from master Yoda – if you don’t already subscribe to his blog, you should. Click here for Kevin’s blog.).

Kevin’s comments made me realize all of the other things I’d forgotten off my list that were contributing to a lack of sale this season. The most conspicuous by its absence from my list is social media. And I realized that I had left it off the list simply because it is of so little consequence to almost 95% of catalogers that I don’t even think about it.

Datamann does hundreds of matchbacks each month for our clients and as much as matchback is an inexact science, it is at least directional. I see the input transactions to those matchbacks – I know how many orders are coming from each client’s social media. In most cases, it is less that 0.2% of orders. That’s 2/10ths of 1 percent. And even if you argued that social media was “influencing” orders not being directly attributed to social media as a source, what would be a reasonable number to expect? Double the attributed response? Triple? That still would not even break 1% of orders.

And yet all year long, leading up to today’s huge volumes, you are told that social media is going to be one of your salvations and keys to sales growth. It’s just not happening – at least the way we do business now.

I’m not going to tell you how to make social media work – meaning directly generate orders – for your business because to be honest, I haven’t a clue. Further, I don’t think any traditional catalog has figure out a way to make their presence on Facebook or Pinterest pay off.

I see social media (and for the sake of argument, I’m referring to a Facebook presence when referring to social media) for catalogers as a case of cognitive dissonance – the discomfort felt when holding two ideas that are not in harmony. Catalogers want to believe that their participation in social media is adding sales, but they can see the numbers and know that it is not. They know they are spending precious resources – mostly staff time – on furthering their social media presence because, well, because if they don’t have a Facebook page, they’re going to disappear, right? They reduce the “dissonance” by believing that although there are no virtually no orders directly attributable to their Facebook presence, that their actions are not wasted. They rationalize that they are building “awareness” and “connecting” with their customer.

But be honest – how many orders would you have lost this year, if you had no Facebook presence at all? Think about that next month when you are doing your holiday catalog post mortems.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235

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