Friday, November 22, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Blockbuster is gone . . .

Your late fees are waived: Blockbuster closes. CNN correspondent Todd Leopold writes in his November 6th article, “Be kind, please rewind, the signs used to say in video stores, urging customers to return their rented VHS tapes spooled back to the beginning.” And then Leopold’s best line in the article: “If only Blockbuster could rewind back to the 1990s.

After selling the database marketing company I founded in 2000, I was contacted by a friend who had been a former client and was now working in a business strategic consulting firm. He asked me if I would join him in a consulting project with Dallas-based Blockbuster Entertainment Inc. I told him his timing was good and I would be happy to join him on what seemed a very important project. My friend’s firm had been approached by Blockbuster in soliciting a proposal to strategically assess how their organization could use the Web to enhance their business. He soon set up a preliminary conference call with the chief marketing officer and the then CEO, Michael Kelly.

When the day came for the conference call I was very excited as I had done my homework and had studied the market . . . specifically their new online competitor, Netflix. My friend and I were ready to highlight the overarching strategy of Netflix and how that insight could help Blockbuster, but as the conference call got underway, it became quickly apparent that all the Blockbuster leadership was interested in were tactical solutions that would drive more people to their stores. Both my friend and I tried to say that online ordering, as a delivery channel, was going to grow rapidly because people found it easier than driving to a Blockbuster store. Netflix was already doing this and growing rapidly.  

The Blockbuster people didn’t want to hear about it. It was about using the Web to drive store traffic . . . period.

Do you think today the Blockbuster leadership would like a re-do of that meeting? I wonder. Today it is so clear, in fact, that now online streaming has eclipsed online orders of DVDs.

Well guess what? I have a déjà vu of that meeting at least a couple of times a month as I talk to way too many fundraising leaders who are just trying to use the Web and online tools (including social media) to increase response of their direct mail appeals. They call it “integrated campaigns.”

At Browne Innovation Group, we still believe in direct mail appeals to my 86-year-old mother, but no amount of hype from online tools or social media is going to get my wife or daughters to open your mail. They are virtually 100% online.

Netflix got what Blockbuster didn’t see. The Internet is a new thing and to be successful, you need a new plan and new model. Netflix used the Web as a new platform first to take online orders, and then delivered the DVDs through the postal service. Today the Web is the order mechanism as well as the delivery mechanism.

To be successful with Boomers, Gen-X and Millennials, fundraisers need to be 100% online . . . period.

Join us.
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