8 Design Tips to Spur Catalog Sales
As a presenter at the Direct Marketing Association's Catalog on the Road Conference held in Cambridge, Mass., earlier this month, I provided the audience with eight creative tips to help grow sales during this most difficult selling environment. Here's a look at my “eight quick fixes”:
1. Focus on salesmanship and ease of shopping. There's a big difference between showing people an item and waiting to see if they want to buy it, to actively explaining the benefits, making claims about its quality, assuring them that they've made the right decision and making it easy for them to pay for it.
2. Your callouts and icons should be benefit-focused and fully explained. Over time, the tyranny of limited space exacts a heavy toll on icons and callouts. Go through your catalog to make sure these are fully explained and help guide customers into making the right purchases. If they're not easy to understand or there are too many of them, it's likely they're just confusing and act as barriers to customer purchases.
3. Use the magic words “Free,” “Save,” “Sale,” “New,” but don’t overdo it. Resist the urge to plaster “SAVE! SAVE! SAVE!” all over the page, but do look for ways to leverage this and other magic words. Tactics to consider include free shipping, shipping upgrades or free returns; save when you buy more; buy online (to save) or tell a friend; as well as to plug a winter sale, a secret sale, a preferred customer sale or inventory clearance sale. You also can call out new products on covers, add icons to all new items and run a “new products” section in the front of the catalog.
4. Call out best-sellers. Customers genuinely value knowing which items others have chosen. It's easy and effective to add “Best-Seller” icons to the top products in each category.
5. Put your best-selling products in the best locations. (Click on the PDF under "Related Content" to the right to view the best selling positions on a page and in a catalog.) Resist the urge to try to help poorly performing products by putting them in the best positions. You can’t save bad products — a 10 percent lift for a product that's in the bottom 20 percent of sales, for instance, won't come close to matching the revenue generated from a 3 percent lift for a product that's in the top 10 percent.
6. Have copy for the top 20 products that starts with a benefit to the customer. Almost everyone knows that the three rules of advertising are benefit, benefit and benefit, but not everyone makes sure that the very first sentence in every copy block is the primary benefit for the customer.
7. Make sure copy follows a logical hierarchy. This keeps the selling process streamlined so the customer isn’t looking around copy blocks and callouts to find the information she needs to place an order. Follow this four-step process:
- start with the primary benefit;
- explain any additional benefits;
- list the necessary ordering information (color, size, weight, style); and
- then list SKU number and price.
8. Look at past catalogs to see if there are great ideas that devolved but still could be effective. Your marketing and creative departments will get bored with creative presentations long before your customers will. Look back at past presentations to see if there's an oldie-but-goody that'll perform better than a current presentation.
Sarah Fletcher is the creative director for Catalog Design Studios, a consulting firm that specializes in catalog design and creative. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.