I’ve been having discussions with a prospective client about the various ways we can help them. He proudly sent their new catalog, a major undertaking after years of relying only on paid search for prospecting.
The catalog has a lot going for it. The photos are clear, attractive, and show the products to best advantage. The layout is clean and readable. There’s a lot of technical information that’s organized in a neat, orderly fashion. Phone number and URL appear on every page.
While it’s a fine job for an initial catalog, our prospective client has no idea how much more effective it could be. Being new to cataloging, he understandably doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. For instance:
* Catalog “hot spots” – which include the front cover, back cover, inside front cover and center spread – are being squandered. To make the most of your sales, make sure that most of your hot spots are devoted to best-selling products and prime selling points.
* Nearly half of every page is devoted to specification charts. The rest consists of photos and features. Benefits are all but missing. First and foremost, make sure your catalog SELLS.
* There’s no order form. True, most buyers today order either on the web or by phone. But catalogers who have tested with and without order forms will tell you they still boost sales enough to more than pay for the space they take, undoubtedly because they help people organize their order.
* A different format and paper stock would have saved a tremendous amount in paper, printing and postage costs – a more important point than ever after recent postal rate structure overhaul.
It’s not surprising that a newbie to catalog marketing, with a technical and financial background, would miss important points like these. We all have specific areas of expertise and can’t be expected to know everything. But these oversights are costing our prospective client big bucks. In this day and age, even seasoned catalogers face tough challenges, so getting it right is more important than ever.
When treading into new territory, don’t go it alone, especially if the stakes are high. Recognize that you’re in a new place without a map, and look for an experienced guide to lead you. It’s virtually guaranteed to pay for itself.