Business & Finance Advertising & sales & Marketing

Catalog Marketing Ideas For Catalog And Website Marketing Results!

Dear Catalog Marketing Friend,

What really matters is how our catalog customers respond, not how we think they should. Thats why awhile back I started collecting all of this priceless information on catalog results.

Ive grabbed information from every source I could find. Some published, some overheard, some from my own experiences, and some of stolen from the experiences of others!

Then recently I took all this compiled information and put it into a big report called CATALOG FACTS & FIGURES. Almost 100 pages stuffed full of nothing but statistics on what works.


Im excited about all this great catalog information, and while I would like to sell you a copy of CATALOG FACTS & FIGURES I realize that not everyone is going to buy one. So, let me share some of this stuff with you. Here goes

25% to 30% of catalog customers start reading
somewhere other than at the beginning!

Interesting, but how can we use this information? Well, we seem to design catalogs with everything in logical order from the front cover. We explain things, tell them who we are and stuff like that at the beginning of each catalog. While theres nothing wrong with this, and Im not suggesting we change it, what I have in mind is expanding it.

What if we were to scatter more information throughout the catalog? Info on who we are and what we are offering as well as to keep reminding them of why they should buy from us, not our competitors.

That warm and fuzzy stuff you usually put at the beginning of your catalog: Letter From The President, Guarantee, Photos of The Employees, and Photo of Your Building. We should try to scatter more of this throughout the rest of your catalog. Especially your powerful Guarantee! (What, you dont have a powerful guarantee? Contact me right now!)

This guarantee should be on a number of your pages and referred to now and then in your copy! Its amazing many sales are made not only because there is a guarantee, but because it is powerful, I wonder how many sales are lost because there is no guarantee or because it is a negative one?

In my CATALOG FACTS AND FIGURES report I reveal a lot of results on guarantees. Wonder how many more returns you will get if extend the length of your guarantee? Or even drop the time limit? By how much can a guarantee increase your catalog response? (Youll have to buy my report to find this out.)

So, lets do our selling on every page of our catalog. Then no matter where someone starts reading, they will be sold. Too many catalogs are boring. While they may have a nice letter at the beginning of their catalog, the rest of the pages are cold. Gee whiz, the first step in selling is be friendly.

Dont just have a letter at the beginning, and then ignore them throughout the rest of the catalog! This same person that is trying to be friendly in the letter should be there in all the copy throughout the catalog with the same friendly helpful tone.

Guide them, point out things. When writing copy, dont limit the conversation to just this product. Remember that red dress we were looking at on page 5, wouldnt this go great with it? or Of course this will look great on you and please check out the red belt on page 23 that seems to be made just for this dress Use your catalog to lead them, help them, make them feel appreciated, turn them into friends so they will want to order from you and keep coming back!

When you are done reading this, be sure to click on the EXAMPLES navigation button at the top to see how Ive done this in some catalogs Ive created.

While we are discussing letters from the president, guarantees and stuff like that, Ive seen too many catalogs (especially B-to-B) that clutter up the first few pages with boring stuff.

I like to see a large, powerful letter from the president on the inside front cover and maybe your guarantee and a photo of the staff. But no ordering info or other stuff on the next page. Let them see what you are offering before they get bored and leave.

Use page 1 to start selling your most powerful products. Show some great stuff popping off the page. Thats what they came here for, give it to them! Maybe use this page for bargains, clearance items, new releases or something special like that. Make it exciting, have those products reach off the page and grab that prospect!

9 out of 10 marketing executives say lots of pictures are the most helpful feature a catalog crossing their desk can offer.

Did you catch that? Yes, even a B-to-B catalog needs great looking photos and plenty of them! If this is so important, why is it that most B-to-B catalogs are downright boring?

And theres more to it than just putting lots of product photos in your catalog, make the content of the photos interesting and then bring the layouts to life and make them exciting. Use border edge treatments. Drop shadows, overlap photos, have the photos overlapping other elements and extending off the pages edges!

When you have a number of similar product photos on a page with all of them about the same size, it is boring and none of them will get noticed. The reader will just go on to the next page or net catalog. Just take one of the photos and make it larger than the others. Play up this product and make sure it gets noticed. Now that you have grabbed their attention, they will also check out the rest of your products on that page.

Have you noticed how boring the product photos in B-to-B catalogs are? Just a shot of the product. I like to see people using the products, demonstrating them, bringing them to life! You would be amazed at this would do for your profits! Do you remember all those Viking Office Products catalogs that had large photos of the CEO holding products, pointing them out to you, or handing them to you? That stuff works! Most folks would prefer to buy from a human than a dead catalog. So bring your catalog to life!

And now for one of the most powerful selling things you can do use photo captions! Somewhere in my CATALOG FACTS & FIGURES report Ive mentioned that percentage that it can boost sales for a product. Take my word for it, it works!

This is such a great way to get your message across. Its human nature, they see the photo and look under it to read what its about. The facts show that the first thing the look at on a page is the photo and number 2 is the photo caption. Thats why is so important to put your catalog copy under each photo.

Dont make them try to match the copy to a photo by matching up a letter or number somewhere else on the page. So often this done by folks more interested in a nice page design than making a sale. Be ready, have your descriptive and selling info right there, this is your opportunity to make a sale, dont blow it.

The 4 most prominent areas
in a catalog are: 1. Front Cover, 2. Back Cover, 3. Center 2 Pages, 4. First 2 Pages Inside the Front Cover.

OK, Im sure youve realized this already. Interesting though how many catalogers arent taking full advantage of many of these powerful areas. Ive seen so many back covers that are just wasted space. And how many times have you opened up a catalog to center and found boring stuff there? This is the spot for a powerful 2-page spread that will knock-their-socks-off!

33% of marketing executives want catalogs to be more specific to their business.

It makes sense, the more your B-to-B catalog is tailored to each type of business with special covers and copy, the greater your sales.

A friend of mine produces a catalog stuffed full of his scheduling and planning products. He takes advantage of this by using a different cover for each segment his prospecting catalogs are mailed to. For instance, if hes mailing to car dealers, the cover shows his products be used at a car showroom. Sure, its a lot more work, but it pays off!

A study based on 224 people over 4 years, showed that when using a serif typeface in direct mail and catalogs, 67% showed good comprehension compared with only 12% when sans-serif is used.

Making a catalog easy to read and follow is so very important. When we start using type styles and graphics foolishly, we are liable to hurt our results. Our first consideration should be what makes it easiest for that potential customer to read and understand.

You need them to read and be convinced by youre your catalog copy in order to get that order out of them. Remember, it takes a well thought out layout just to get that reader to start reading our copy.

There are so many little things that can get them to give up and move on, such as small type, type in hard to see colors, designs under the copy or type made to form a special shape. Thats all it takes.

Copy that gives the reader helpful advice gets 75% more readership than copy that just deals with the products.

Not only are you going to hook more of them, but they will realize you are an expert in the field, buy more from you and also keep that catalog around a lot longer.

A good example of this is the PC Nametag Catalog which contains meeting tips. Click on the EXAMPLES navigation button at the top of the page to see some off the catalog I worked on with them. Theres some great copy in there that I wrote. But dont look now, theres still a lot more facts we have to cover!

Adding tips, techniques and ideas to your catalog copy and side bars increases response and catalog retention. One cataloger tested this and showed a 50% increase in response.

OK, after reading the previous item, you were probably saying Yeah, 75% more readership, but did it increase results? So that fact is for you!

25% of Tonquish Creeks (cataloger of police & firefighter related gifts) revenues come from trade shows.

Is this an additional source of revenue you are passing up? Does your business lend itself to promoting at trade shows? Dont just sit there, go where your customers are, no matter where that may be!

Computer Discount Warehouse sales are growing at 60%. Their secret? We service the hell out of our customers and provide them with superior products and prices.

Making the most of your customers will payoff. But dont just mail them more catalogs, Communicate. Treat them just like they are special, because they are. Put together a best customer club for them. Hit them with personalized letters, newsletters, postcard reminders and more.

A personal letter with your catalog
can increase response by as much as 25%.

When sending out a catalog in an envelope, put a letter in there, make it powerful, give them a special offer, bonus or discount coupon. If you arent using envelopes to mail out catalogs to new requesters, consider it. The letter can really boost your response. And dont limit yourself to that 25% figure, try for 100%! Come up with a great offer and a powerful letter. Need ideas? E-mail me at [email protected]

Gymboree (childrens clothing & toys) on mailing of first catalog got a 5% response from a list of their retail customers, 1% from outside lists.

Your customers are always your best bet. Although customers from your retail store can be hard to judge. If they arent mail order buyers, they are hard to convert. Consider a mailing that also encourages them to come back to the store, not just order from the catalog.

That 1% from outside lists doesnt look too good. Id take a closer look at that selection of lists. Watch out for those list brokers, they usually have you mailing to a broad group of selections. Try different sources, such as list trading.

A large cataloger began publishing a catalog of excess items calling it their Outlet Catalog it was printed on newsprint, tabloid style, with red as a 2nd color. Its biggest success was when mailed to lapsed customers, reactivating 5% to 10% of these old customers.

It pays to be different and try different methods. Your customers may get bored with the same old catalogs. Plus it is important to look like you sound. What did I just say? What I mean is if you are talking big savings and closeouts, look like a discount catalog, use cheap paper and warehouse-looking design.

Plus, this brings up another point, dont give up on your customers without a fight. It may not be that they quit buying, its probably because you quit selling. (Hey, I like that one, Ill hang it on the wall with some of my other great sayings.) Try different things before you give up on that customer maybe a catalog in an envelope with a special letter and discount coupon.

Even try putting them in your Best Customer Club. (If you want them to be good customers, making them seem like good customers may help. Well, it made sense to me. If everything else fails, send them a special personal letter and ask them why they arent buying from you! (Tell them about your starving children.) Their response will be interesting and enlightening. Ive seen these letters shame a number of old buyers into buying again.

Back in the 80s Fingerhut tested mailing to its customer list 30 times per year instead of the usual 20 times. After one year they found that it produced greater sales without diluting the profitability.

As I always say: Dont be afraid to mail too often, just be afraid of not mailing enough! Many catalogers have complicated systems of mailing to customers based on their buying history. The best customers may get a catalog every week.

Also consider smaller specialty catalogs mailed to customers who have bought this type of product in the past. For example, Computer Discount Warehouse could mail out an 8 or 12 page catalog or newsletter style mailing offering a certain selection of software, or even push just one item.

Gil Carlson

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