As a business owner, the move into a catalog channel can open doors … or open a hole in your marketing budget. Good planning and sound catalog marketing practices can maximize your chance of success in the catalog market.
As a marketer with decades of working with catalogers, and helping to market catalogs, I have observed both opportunities and challenges with print catalogs. There is more competition in the retail arena due to the explosion of multiple channels – radio, television, internet . There is also more opportunity. The challenges of making a print catalog one part of a cohesive multi-channel marketing effort are creatively energizing.
Print catalogs are not dead; they have just found a new place in the total marketing plan, for niche, mid-sized and large businesses.
Here are ten catalog marketing tips to help businesses get the best out of every catalog dollar.
10. Keep it focused
Make sure your catalog is focused on the products you really want to sell through that channel. While background is nice, and branding is important, make sure the message in your catalog marketing is focused on the product.
9. Be creative
Try different formats, catalog sizes, styles and content delivery tools. Design a catalog that matches your business.
8. Keep it clear
Balance the creative elements with clear copy and excellent product images. You don’t want people to have to try and figure out what you sell, how it works, or what options they have if they order from your catalog.
7. Target your prospects carefully
There is nothing more critical to a successful marketing campaign than “targeting your customer.” First, define your buyers, take time to analyze and establish a realistic profile of each buyer. Then use every available means you have to advertise and market directly to that market segmentation that closely matches your existing buyers. Understand and utilize the power of SEO in your catalog marketing. Don’t waste time or money marketing to the masses. Market segmentation is key to a high ROI.
6. Research costs up front
Avoid sticker shock by researching the costs of any catalog marketing effort before you start. Be sure to factor in writing and design, printing, packaging and postage. Then identify the target sales per catalog to evaluate the ROI. This will give you a basis for evaluating the success of the catalog after it launches. Most importantly … get multiple quotes on each line item cost. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with printers and other vendors. They want your business and may be a little flexible in price.
5. Understand postage regulations
The post office has rules on mail size, weight and content, so make sure you understand the rules before you commit to a layout or catalog count. An inch larger or smaller can substantially affect postage … the time to find this out is not on mailing day. A critical mistake marketers make is failure to physically drive to the post office and get confirmation on the weight and postage of a direct mail piece PRIOR to signing off on the printing of the catalog or brochure.
4. Track results
Make sure you have a system in place to track sales generated through your catalog marketing efforts. Be sure to include discount or offer codes to identify sales that come through other channels but originated with the catalog.
3. Maintain control of the printing
Imagine spending countless hours and multiple revisions defining the perfect color, font, layout and design. And then the printer you have just hired does a mediocre printing job. When hiring printing companies, be sure to confirm that you will attend the printing of your job. Don’t allow a printing executive to tell you that “we handle this all the time, no need to be present.” It’s imperative that you spot check the entire printing process to be sure the color, quality and paper are what you want.
2. Consider a web and print catalog blend
If print catalog costs are too high to reach all of your target, consider a mix of web and print catalogs. Send catalogs only to those who request them, and use the web catalog as your prospect marketing tool.
1. Review and refine
The key to successful catalog marketing lies in the review and refinement of the process. Odds are you won’t get it exactly right the first time around. But with good metrics, careful analysis and a tremendous amount of tweaking, you can revise your catalog so it will become a profitable means to sell your product and achieve profit goals..