Catalog Doctor: Vitamin Maybe
Most Maybes Won’t Call
Yes, Bill’s call center has knowledgeable customer service representatives to help callers choose the right model. But most Maybes won’t call. Calling is the last step in deciding to buy. The catalog needs to be easy enough to use on its own.
Light Impressions, conversely, works for Cores and Maybes. Here it quickly and simply explains how to choose between two-ply, four-ply and eight-ply mat boards:
2-ply: Great for portfolio use where space is critical or as a backing board. 1/32 inch.
4-ply: Creates adequate separation between your artwork and glazing [glass]. 1/16 inch.
8-ply: A window in 8-ply adds depth and drama to any image. Also ideal for larger photographs or artwork that need more structural support. 1/8 inch.
This copy doesn’t take much room, but makes deciding to buy easier, even for new-to-mats Maybes.
Be Inclusive, Not Exclusive
Use plain English. Avoid jargon or expert copy shortcuts to avoid making Maybes feel intimidated, confused and irritated.
Say you’re selling model airplanes. “Curtis SB2C; Metal; cockpit opens; 12x18 in.” is an adequate description for expert collectors or World War II Navy pilots. But Maybes will be clueless.
“Flying from U.S. carriers in WWII, the Curtis SB2C Helldiver destroyed more enemy targets than any other dive-bomber in the Pacific; metal; cockpit opens; 12x18 in.” This copy is understandable to Maybes.
Most catalogers won’t offer a product unless there’s something great about it. Yet many catalogs struggle communicating what that greatness is. Maybes will skip over a product if its greatness isn’t clear.
Example: There are lots of backpack-style purses nowadays. Clothing cataloger Norm Thompson carries one. Its copy could’ve described it as such, “Backpack can also be worn as a shoulder bag.” Instead their copywriter communicated its greatness:
As a shoulder bag, it stays quietly by your side, slouchy and chic in the richest, softest Napa leather. But a simple tug of the straps easily changes it to a backpack — comfortably out of the way and secured by a full-zip closure.