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Reviewing Your Catalog for Success
An important step in developing and executing a successful catalog is constantly reviewing the elements that affect its success. Use this checklist to evaluate how well your catalog presentation is pulling together the five elements that contribute to a catalog's success.
The five elements are: 1) Image; 2) Creative; 3) Product; 4) Order form; and 5) Customer service.
Element #1 - Catalog Image
Image is more than just presenting the merchandise. Image can be projected through good design and photography. It can be projected through the personality of the founder. To help build and reinforce the image, you can use an editorial format to tell a story – how the business started, about the founder, about the uniqueness of the catalog in the marketplace, etc. The catalog needs to establish an identity with customers that is sustainable and also differentiates this catalog from those of competitors.
Element #2 - Catalog Creative
It's not creative unless it sells. The catalog should be designed to generate sales. To create an effective selling catalog, you need to know your company, your products, your audience and your competition.
The cover design of a catalog is very important. It must be the hook and must be interesting or it goes in the wastebasket. Interior design can take many paths and depends on the audience and the products you’re trying to sell. Catalog copy must sell, be brief, and concise.
- Must project company image.
- Retail catalogs typically evoke mood but don't project company image.
- Must both intrigue customer and close sale.
- Format should meet the needs of displaying and selling the products.
- Attention to scale of products.
- Catalog is selling tool.
- Product must be visible, features seen and understood.
- Concentrate on making products dominant feature.
- Use design techniques to grab the consumers - designers must understand this.
- Copy crisp, good lead, a little teaser copy, factual info on product
- Keying important - easy for eye.
Element #3 - Catalog Product
The products should have as many of the characteristics of a winning product as possible. (See the table of winning product features on this website.) The catalog marketer needs to concentrate on the company’s strengths in merchandising, pricing, assortments, etc. You don’t have to have the cheapest pricing, but your merchandise must be competitively priced. The issue is value.
Element #4 - Catalog Order Form
Today, the order form is considered an archaic and unnecessary tool and expense, especially those with their direct marketing experience based solely on e-Commerce. So, you will see many catalogs today that don’t include order forms. It has been tested and proven time and time again that order forms actually increase responses and order size, even if it is not mailed in. The customer uses it as much as a wish list as an ordering device. Retail catalogs typically don’t use an order form, but the goal of a retail catalog is to drive retail traffic. For some direct marketers, the order form has proven to be an excellent device for inventory clearance. If you’re in the direct marketing or multi-channel marketing business, you should test using an order form to see if it generates the additional revenue to cover its cost and increase revenues and profits.
- Often overlooked, but closes the sale.
- Should not be a test of the customer's will to purchase.
- Don't make the order form part of the catalog - customers don't like to tear up catalogs.
- BRE is expensive - fold over is cheaper.
- Positioning for customer name and address should be easy to locate preferably top left of order form.
- A good idea to test order form design.
- Use the kiss method in designing form - keep it simple stupid, even the most intelligent minds sometimes don't operate logically.
- Also the order form should be designed for the customer's ease of use not order processing.
Element #5 - Catalog Customer Service
- Offer #800 and online real-time chat, both lend credibility.
- Informed operators to provide product information and add on sales.
- On line customer purchase history - can be used as a marketing tool both inbound and outbound, also maintain info on previous gift purchases and to whom sent.
- Shipping and handling- keep the charges low - some people think that 7.5% Avg. is too high - might even consider eliminating handling. So many online merchants offer free shipping today that it’s become the de facto standard expected by many consumers.
- Shipping period - how fast - within 5 working days unless out of stock. But next-day and 2nd-day are becoming the de facto standard.
- Order entry system - should tell operator whether item being ordered is in or out of stock, recommend possible subs. The system should also inform the online customer who is placing the order as to inventory availability.
- Telephone orders should receive priority in processing and shipping.
- Handling of complaints and returns should be quick, courteous.
- Treat customers with respect and make them feel important.
- If possible included personalized thank you notes in all customers packages signed by the president of the company.
- Treat order processing and fulfillment as a customer service.
- Telephone marketing - use the opportunity to talk directly to the consumer to trade up or cross sell.