Catalogues are powerful marketing tools that can form an important cornerstone of your marketing mix. As digital technology has progressed, the catalogue can not only stand alone, but has also kept pace and developed into the perfect partner to your website. It acts like a showroom, something that customers can browse at leisure and enjoy when they choose. Today a catalogue can be designed to send potential customers to your website too; helping to drive online sales. It can provide a voice for your brand to break out from the digital world whilst still strengthening your digital presence.
Research by Royal Mail found that 75% of people would prefer to receive a printed catalogue in the post than a digital version by email. Catalogues were also stated as tools used early in the purchase decision making process, with 65% of people saying they like to browse a catalogue and look online before they make a purchase.
How to Decide If a Catalogue is Right for My Business
If you have an Ecommerce business you might be wondering if mailing catalogues is right for you. It might be helpful to ask yourself the following questions about your business to help you come to a decision:
- Who are my customers?
- What age range and demographic are you targeting? It is interesting to note that a survey by Epsilon found young professionals aged 18-34 have one of the best response rates to direct mail. Customers aged 65+ also respond particularly well.
- What is my budget?
- Producing a catalogue does require a significant investment. If you’re looking to grow your business the investment could be well worth it, but if you can’t invest right now then start planning for the future.
- Can I commit?
- Catalogues need commitment to yield the best results. Test and learn, just like you would with email marketing or other forms of advertising. Don’t just try one catalogue and make quick decisions about its performance, you ideally need to commit to a series and review and improve every time.
- Can I integrate with my marketing plan?
- Catalogues work best when they are integrated with your overall marketing plan. Consider whether you can integrate your messages, timing and marketing channels. You want to make sure that you can bring other departments in line with your catalogue plan in order to get the best results.
- How will I measure success?
- Tracking a catalogue’s success can be difficult. Consider what a successful catalogue will look like for your business and think about the measures you could put in place to assess this. Be sure you have processes in place to collect and analyse any necessary data.
What Type of Catalogue?
Catalogues can be presented in many different ways. Traditional catalogues were simply a list of products with a mail order form, and these can still be very effective today. Some brands find it useful to go beyond selling to be informative, magazine style brochures known as ‘magalogues’. Your catalogue might include your whole product range or a seasonal selection. It might encourage phone calls, online sales, mail order or a combination of order methods. It’s useful to formulate a clear plan of the type of catalogue you want to create before you start work. Try considering the following:
- What are my customers looking for?
- If you’re a B2B business, chances are your customers will simply want a list of products available with key sales information. If you sell direct to the consumer, focus on your demographic and consider the type of information that helps them come to a buying decision.
- What will add value to my products?
- If you sell homewares or fashion items, presenting your products in a magazine style might work really well. It could allow you to combine items into outfits or dress a room to give an overall effect that’s bigger than just one product. However if you sell specialised components or technology you might want to keep the focus on individual products, adding relevant reviews or ratings.
- What are my key aims?
- Is the catalogue purely a sales vehicle or is it to raise brand awareness or increase brand perception? If branding is high on your priority list, include useful content in your catalogue that will position your brand as helpful, knowledgeable and encourage the potential customer to keep hold of the information you have provided.
- Do I have the resources?
- Even if your product lends itself to gorgeous lifestyle shoots and articles full of character, be honest about whether you have the resources to produce this. Does your team have the necessary skills or will you need to outsource? Does your budget stretch to buying in the right skills?
How should I distribute it?
It’s also useful to consider your distribution methods before you produce your catalogue. Your chosen method may affect the messaging, size, shape and weight of the piece you produce. To decide on your distribution method, think about:
- Who am I targeting?
- You’ve already thought about your customers and your aims, but who is your target for your catalogue? Do you want to reactivate old customers that haven’t purchased recently? Do you want to encourage your existing customers to spend more? Do you want to focus on acquiring new customers that are like your existing ones? Are you trying to re-position your brand to target a whole new sector or demographic?
- How can I reach them?
- If you’re trying to reach people who have purchased from you before chances are you already have their addresses and their permission to use them, so mailing is a clear winner. If you’re looking to acquire customers that behave in similar ways to your current base you can purchase targeted data from companies like the Abacus Alliance or Experian* who will match and model your current customer’s behaviour with their extensive databases, giving you the mailing data you need.
- As well as mailing, you could also consider distributing your catalogues in magazines that your target audience read, or at relevant shows or events. If you want to add value to your existing customer experience, consider adding your catalogue into their order package free of charge.
If you’re contemplating adding catalogues in to your marketing mix then hopefully this has given you plenty of food for thought. Direct mail and digital can work hand in hand and catalogues are an excellent platform to communicate with customers in their leisure time, positioning your brand as something they can enjoy and relate to.
If you are thinking of creating a catalogue for your business and would like some more information on planning or pricing, our experts here at Citipost Mail can help. We work with many clients to help smarten their mailings, including direct mail and catalogues. So simply drop us a line or send us an email and we would be happy to advise you.
*We do not endorse any data suppliers specifically, these companies are simply listed to provide an example.