Brand Your Success By Enlivening Customers’ Experience
In a session during last week’s NEMOA conference in Portland, Maine, Lois Boyle, president/chief creative officer at catalog consulting firm J. Schmid & Assocs., said that the customer experience is the key factor in developing a successful catalog company. Stressing that in today’s world you’re more in competition with consumers’ time than with their pocketbooks, Boyle provided a few ways to help your catalog break through the clutter of everyday life. Included below are four of those tips:
1. Develop a schemata (customer’s frame of reference). Calling it the “curse of knowledge,” Boyle said that many catalogers know too much. “We get so close to the product that we ignore the customer.” She cautioned the audience to avoid defining its customer too broadly.
Ask yourself, “Who are you?” The answer to this question should be your brand, Boyle said. She cited two effective brand promises: Volvo’s guarantee of the safest ride to parents concerned with their children’s well-being and Harley-Davidson’s promise of fantasy — complete freedom on the road and a camaraderie of membership. Great brands never sit still; brand evolution is a necessity, she noted.
She also referenced New Life Systems, a massage, body care and aromatherapy supplies cataloger, as an example. Prior to its brand evolution, the company was selling what looked like ordinary bottles of stuff. Realizing that what made its products special were their pure ingredients, the company went about remaking its catalog to promote this. By making the spreads warmer and using customer testimonials and photography that accentuated the pure ingredients, the catalog increased response and average order value.
2. Develop a merchandise concept. “Ask yourself, ‘What do you do?’” Boyle challenged the audience to never sell items, but to sell merchandise concepts through themes. She gave the example of Pottery Barn’s catalog vs. Home Decorators Collection’s catalog. In Home Decorators Collection, pages are filled with lots of product options, but don’t necessarily have a merchandise concept. In Pottery Barn, the pages “own a look; it’s all about lifestyle,” Boyle said.