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Top 10 Catalog Marketing Best Practices

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Top 10 Guru

If you’re currently using a catalog as a part of your marketing plan, or are considering adding a catalog element, you need to make those pages pay.

Postage is expensive, but the results from good catalog marketing efforts make it worth the investment — if you do it well, that is. And the basic rules are the same for giant catalogers and little mom-and-pop businesses issuing their very first mailing.

Here are the top ten catalog marketing best practices for catalog merchants large or small.

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10. Have good metrics in place

catalog marketing best practice

If you’re sending out catalogs, make sure you have good metrics to go along with them. You need to know what works, and what doesn’t — good data on content, sales, customer contact and other factors will keep you heading for success.

9. If you list it, have it

catalog marketing best practice back orders sign

From the customer’s point of view, there’s nothing more annoying than picking out items you want, only to be told they’re “Out of Stock.” Filling out pages with products you may not have on hand, can’t drop ship on demand, or may soon run out of them gets your catalogs tossed by potential customers.

8. Limit the puffery

catalog marketing best practice bragging sign

Of course you want customers to like your company, but loading your catalog pages up with puffery, bragging or unsupported claims won’t do the trick. In a world where everyone is claiming to be the greatest, a little honesty goes a long way.

7. Provide enough information about the product

catalog marketing best practice woman with page layout

Shoppers should not have to call customer service to understand what your product does or what options are available. And most of the time, they won’t bother. Write your catalog copy to address customers questions up front, and you’ll have a better chance at conversion.

6. Include a customer service number

catalog marketing best practice women with headphone

And speaking about customer service, far too many catalogs treat customer service contact information as though it’s a state secret. If you’ve included good catalog copy, most of the people who call in either have a question that is keeping them from ordering, or are ready to order. Do you really want to miss either of those?

5. Tuck in that order form

catalog marketing best practice order forms

Studies have shown that even customers who have no intention of mailing an order form like having the form to help them keep track of items they’ll order via phone or web. If you don’t include an actual mail-in form, make sure you do have a pull out “wish list” or something customers can use to list product numbers, names, prices and things like size or color.

4. Use environment shots

catalog marketing best practice desk and chair

One the things people like best about catalogs are the environment shots. Instead of just showing a skirt, show a woman wearing it while sipping coffee at a cafe. Pass on the product-only chair photo and show it in an attractive office. The best catalogs create the image, because they know the orders will follow.

3. Keep them regular

catalog marketing best practice mailbox and letters

Customers like knowing when they can expect your newest catalogs. Once you establish a pattern, stick to it to build a customer following.

2. Match the web, sort of

catalog marketing best practice web screen

By and large, your web site and your catalog should offer the same products. But having a few “web only” and “catalog only” products will keep your customers engaged in both channels. That means you can sell to them when they’re at their computer and when they have your catalog in hand on the plane or at lunch.

1. Make sure the new catalog is really new

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catalog marketing best practice new catalog

If your customers receive a new catalog that just rearranges old product, odds are they’ll be less excited about your next one. Do it too many times, and they’ll stop looking at all. Keep your core products, but make sure new catalogs really are, well, new.


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