Famous Last Words: Of Underwear, Aspirin and MBAs
What triggered this column was underwear. For a dozen years I’ve bought Jockey underwear at Lord & Taylor in Philly. In need of some replacements, I went to the men’s shop and found only Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein at huge prices. So I Googled Jockey and found the home-page, found the style of underwear I prefer and typed in “4” for the number of three-packs I wanted to order. And then clicked on “Checkout.”
Up pops the message: “If you are new to JOCKEY.com please register.” I clicked and up came the message: “To register at JOCKEY.com, begin by completing the form below. Fields marked with asterisks (*) are required.”
What followed was a request for name, e-mail address, password (twice), password hint, birthplace (city), password question, password answer, day and evening phone, and assurance that I was over 14.
I abandoned the shopping cart. Clearly some hotshot M.B.A. had attended a NEDMA-like gathering and heard about the need to build relationships and collect data about prospects and customers. But he or she hadn’t thought through how data collection pertained to their company and customers.
I didn’t want to register with Jockey. As an old-time direct marketer and non-M.B.A., I’d never ask a prospect to go through all that work before agreeing to accept his order and take his money for a commodity available anywhere except Lord & Taylor.
What does registering with Jockey mean? Will I start getting e-mails from it trying to upgrade me to long johns or downgrade me to thongs? How dare the company force me to join the Jockey family without seeing if the service and the product are any good.
To all you M.B.A.s and Ph.D.s out there, remember the immortal words of one of the smartest people in direct marketing, Emily Soell: “I don’t want a relationship with the guy who sells me aspirin. I just want my headache cured.”