Catalog Doctor: The Doctor Is In to Help You ...
PATIENT: Doc, I’m a longtime catalog marketing pro running a multichannel business. But between the down economy and the expanding Web, I’m depressed and confused about how to get my business back on track. With all of today’s changes, are there any prescriptions you can give me?
CATALOG DOCTOR: You’re suffering from a recent affliction called Lost-Boom Syndrome, or LBS. It’s been sweeping multichannel businesses since this economic malaise set in, creating anxiety and despair. LBS exhibits multiple symptoms, requiring a multiple therapy approach. Let’s look at each symptom and its therapy.
Symptom 1: Sloppy Marketing
The most recent economic boom allowed many catalogers to adopt sloppy marketing practices. Boom times delivered growth and profits even to catalogers whose marketing method was, “just get the products on the page.” But lean times weed out players who forget to focus on what customers really want and need.
Prescription: Focus on cataloging fundamentals. Many catalogs today are missing out on the basics of clarity, scannability and eye flow. That means they’re also missing out on higher response rates.
The basics still matter. I was recently behind the mirror at a focus study, and I saw that consumers are still viewing catalogs in the eye-flow patterns that Siegfried Vogel discovered in his eye camera studies.
Review your unique selling proposition (USP). Is it delivering what your customers need, or what you wish they’d need? If your USP really is great, is your copy communicating that USP in a clear, compelling way?
Symptom 2: Undertesting Circulation
“Mail more names, more often” was the mantra for many catalogers during better times. Then the U.S. Postal Service hit the industry with a high postage increase, and many catalogers implemented arbitrary, desperate circulation cuts. But what’s the optimum quantity, frequency and time for mailing?