Investor Protection Association for America: Don’t Do It

10 12 2008

I received a direct mail piece today from Investor Protection Association for America.  As a concerned citizen, it didn’t seem quite as obvious a ploy as other “claim your prize” mailings.

It is indeed a mailing list collection ploy (from NextMark):

Investor Protection Association for America responders are affluent investors with a vested interest in tax reform, protection of investors’ rights, the effect of high energy cost on the economy and increased political awareness. They are concerned with pending legislation and how Congressional decisions will impact their financial future. More importantly they are willing to tell Congress what they feel their priorities should be. IPAA responders subscribe to investment newsletters, financial publications, business publications, they are donors as well as financial and economic book buyers. They have the discretionary income to invest in stocks, bonds, annuities, commodities, mutual funds, oil and gas, and hedge funds as well as subscribe to publications, books and fundraising offers.

I won’t patronize you with phony outrage.  Magazine, catalog, and who-knows-what mailing lists are regular practice.  But they make no qualms about how their model works.  I accept advertising and marketing with open arms.

In these times, people are hurting and our government hasn’t yet taken the right steps to fully reassure us.  Armed with the promise of public service, they’ve given us more junk mail instead.   As such, I feel this is pretty despicable right now.

This has apparently been going on since at least 1997 (via Dave).  Now, their salespeople probably thought this might be a good time to ratchet up the mailings, given their newly propped appropriateness of their name.  Send in a blank envelope as Dave suggests, or just destroy the mailing.

Next thing is, without Google, I probably would never been able to discover this fact.  If this post stops one person from sending their information in and saves one tree, the time to write it was worthwhile.  Pass it on.


Staples 2.0: When Online Resembles Offline

5 12 2008

Sarah Tavel of Bessemer Partners has a great post about The Staples 2.0 effect, how large e-commerce retailers are leading to the closure of mom-and-pop stores.  I highly recommend it.

The conclusion that e-commerce will come to more closely resemble physical retail in the long run always struck me as a largely underrepresented one. The seismic drop in consumer spending seems to be the catalyst to put this reality front and center.

The post got me thinking. Search Engine Ranking is the key ingredient here.

Many direct comparisons can be made between online retail and physical retail: branding, repeat customers, customer acquisition cost, economies of scale, etc. Many insurmountable benefits to scale.

With Search Ranking, it’s as if once you’ve “earned” your spot, you’ve not only got a flagship store in Times Square, but also in London Square, Union Square, Mall of America, and so on… for FREE. The land grab for this space spawned Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and on.

The existence of Search Ranking, based on popularity (links), makes it even more insurmountable to dethrone a market leader. It’s not the only benefit to scale, but my gut says that it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back for new entrants.

Some of the thinking is very obvious. Commodities will be bought from the low-cost producer. Long tail wise, there can be a healthy long tail serving infinite small-scale interests given removal of geographical barriers. Today’s basically zero cost of real estate means these niches have a lot of room to thrive.

Hence an Etsy, Zazzle or such can thrive as well.

You’ll basically see large e-commerce retailers, with niche retailers competing on a specific niche service, which sure looks a lot like physical retail.

There’s still of lot of room to grow and create value to build a brand and your base of loyal users/customers/followers: aggregation, customization, community, socialization.

It’s just unoriginality that will go unrewarded… it’s no different on the Wild Wild Web.

(via GigaOM)