Catalog Creative Breakthroughs (1,612 words)
by Jack Schmid
THE BIG IDEA! What direct marketer has not dreamed of coming up with that totally unique, breakthrough concept like the "Johnson Box" or the negative option club or another creative ploy that gives one immortality in industry recognition. Whether you're a designer, photographer, writer, printer or order form manufacturer, everyone is seeking that special creative technique that will help their work stand out, differentiate themselves from the competition and get better results.
"Beat the Control!" is the cry of creative professionals. Let's look at a number of ways that successful catalogers are thinking "outside the box" in their creative efforts.
We'll examine seven breakthrough ideas—presented not in any priority order. You'd be wise to think about each one and how it may work for you.
1. Great Covers
There are catalogs that consistently come up with brilliant covers. The reason that covers (both front and back) are so important is they are the first things that buyers or prospects see. We have seen front covers make a 30-percent to 40-percent difference in revenue per catalog mailed. The "big guys" know that prospect covers need to work harder. Many larger catalogers have separate prospect books in which the merchandise is specifically tailored, and covers, the opening spread and offers are oriented to:
• getting customers' attention.
• standing out in the crowded mail box.
• getting readers inside the catalog.
• highlighting an offer that can't be refused.
• giving customers a quick read about what this catalog is selling and how unique the niche and brand are.
Lands' End, Foster & Smith, New Pig Corp. and Cushman's Fruit consistently develop unique covers.
2. Great Photography and Photo Styling
Copy is NOT king in the catalog environment! Unlike other types of direct mail where copy is often the "driver," a catalog is a visual medium and design and photography are the critical creative elements. In those catalogs that consistently stand out and produce great results, it is great photography that leads the way. There are lots of photo style options: