Many business-to-business (b-to-b) catalogers fail to periodically refresh their creative elements and end up making common mistakes in copywriting, photography, layout and design. To discern if you’re guilty of stale or ineffectual catalog creative, ask yourself the following questions.
“Am I employing copy that’s appropriate for b-to-b customers in particular?”
“B-to-b products tend to be more practical because they’re meant to help customers solve business problems,” says Sarah Fletcher, president of Charlestown, R.I.-based Catalog Design Studios, a catalog consultancy. You can’t sell on emotion in a b-to-b catalog like you can in a consumer catalog, she continues.
Gina Valentino, vice president and general manager of catalog consultancy J. Schmid & Associates, Shawnee Mission, Kan., agrees. “B-to-b copywriting isn’t about romancing [customers], but about solving their problems.”
Moreover, she continues, “B-to-b catalogers often assume there’s no need for marketing because customers already know them.” To avoid the mistake of not being promotional enough in your copy, try using headlines across a few spreads, suggests Valentino. “Don’t assume customers know what your items are or why they’d need them. Talk to customers on the page.”
Like copy for consumer catalogs, b-to-b copy must be audience-appropriate, says Fletcher. For example, if you’re selling software, use product descriptions that are suitable for the purchasing decision-makers at your target demographic companies. Are IT managers responsible for buying your software, or is it administrative assistants? Bear in mind that whomever does the actual buying probably will have to justify his or her purchases, so any copy you can offer to make that task easier for your customers would undoubtedly be most appreciated.
Says Fletcher, “Make sure that all benefits are clearly explained to assure [customers] your product is the best purchase for his or her company.”
Takeaway tip: To ensure your catalog’s copy is appropriate for various types of people, distribute it to several departments within your company to see if it’s universally understood.