Learn From My Family’s Favorite Catalog

Every so often, my family gets one catalog that gets passed from person to person, left in the living room for a couple of weeks, circles to at least one kid’s room before finally disappearing in the recycling.

The catalog is from ThinkGeek.   A reasonable question to ask is why the company catering to super geeks still uses catalogs.  Or as the company puts it, “we put photos of our products on dead trees and mail them to people.”

[quote]

If you haven’t been to ThinkGeek, you need to head there now and revel in the fun.    They sell Tshirts with sound effects.  They sell ruggedized MP3 players for toddlers.   Binary and IP jokes abound, and there’s the obligatory poster of Princess Leia in her bikini.

They mail catalogs because they get marketing at its purest form.  It’s portable, its ubiquitous and its in whatever format someone wants to see at particular moment.   Print media may be dying an agonizingly slow death, but these geeks are smart enough to know how to calculate ROI and kill anything that doesn’t drive profit.

These products are consumed online every single day, but the ThinkGeek people didn’t automatically dismiss catalog sales because their audience was geeks.  And what do you know?  It works.   And it’s worked for years.   Everyone from my high school aged son to my visiting, retired brother-in-law took at least a gander at the latest issue.  I heard the phrase “Oh cool, I like that…” at least twice.  (You can sign up for the ThinkGeek catalog too – I get no commission.  I just think it’s a fun read)

Here is the real question for you:   what marketing channels have you dismissed in your business because they don’t meet your notion of where your customers are?    And if you have killed marketing channels, did you have data to back up your decision?

Because there’s a flash drive hidden in a watch or a Tshirt from The Big Bang Theory online, but one company knows it can earn profit by printing pictures of their technical wares on dead trees and using the U.S. Postal Service to send them to people.

3 comments

  • drmomentum

    drmomentum

    Reply

    Right on the money. Even though I've told my wife about ThinkGeek numerous times, the following scene played out when she stumbled upon the catalog sitting in a box that was still hanging around from when I'd ordered some gifts for Xmas.

    “What is this catalog? Omigod, it's full of perfect gifts for you and K.”

    And they've just made another customer.

  • George Bounacos

    George Bounacos

    Reply

    Yep, good call Doc. Sometimes it's not about interacting with your customer but going for the person giving your customer a gift. And that crowd may still be using a newspaper and sending in their order by telegraph

  • George Bounacos

    George Bounacos

    Reply

    Yep, good call Doc. Sometimes it's not about interacting with your customer but going for the person giving your customer a gift. And that crowd may still be using a newspaper and sending in their order by telegraph

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