Online and in print

landsend cover landsend site

The Lands’ End Lesson: You don’t replace print, you add to it.

Different strokes for different folks: At Hammock Publishing, we have a near-universal question arise when we discuss customer communication programs with new or existing clients. “Can we replace this print publication with one we send out via e-mail?” they ask. “No,” we answer. “You can supplement it. You can archive it. You can enhance it…but you can’t REPLACE it.”

I tell them it’s like thinking you can replace attending a live football game with watching it on television. In both instances, one “sees” the game. But the experience of attending the game is not replaced by watching the game on television. The two are completely different experiences that affect an individual’s senses and sensibilities in uniquely different ways. They complement one another: the TV fan longs for the real experience; the game-attending fan becomes a loyal viewer.

Now I have another example which more directly parallels the communication dynamics between a marketer and customer and the diversity of ways and ocassions in which communication occurs through various, complementary channels.

A story in Sunday’s NY Times explores the way direct marketers are finally understanding how print and online sales are different. One example used is Lands’ End, which in 1999 attempted a strategy of mailing fewer catalogs and promoting online purchases. It failed miserably.


By this year, the Internet will represent 30 percent of Lands’ End’s holiday sales, up from 25 percent last year. And the company, now owned by Sears, Roebuck, is still going to mail 270 million catalogs. Many customers, it turns out, buy from each at different times and for different reasons.

The logic and insight displayed through the experiences of some of America’s dominant retailers should speak loudly and clearly to those who hope they can “replace” print with web-based means of communication. Many customers, it turns out, want to communicate with you in various ways at various times and for various reasons.