B-to-B Insights: Catalog Curb Appeal
Just because a product appears on the front cover for one drop doesn’t mean it can’t appear on the back cover for another. It’s fine to repeat products on the back cover, just make sure they aren’t on the front and back covers at the same time.
Once again, first look for any products that are seasonally appropriate. During the winter holidays, banking supply companies see an increase in sales of currency gift envelopes. The season lasts about three months, but they don’t want customer gift envelopes on the front cover of every catalog during that time. Since they’ve already placed the envelopes on the front cover for the optimal month, slotting gift envelopes on the back cover for the other drops during the selling season is a good idea.
Sketch: Begin your cover creative with a pencil at your desk, not a camera in the studio. Thumbnail sketches are a quick way to see whether a concept is working or not. The thumbnail stage is also a good time to experiment with headlines. See how your text and images work together for both design and overall sales impact. Once you’ve got your approach, take a bit more time and draw a rough sketch of your completed concept. You don’t have to be Rembrandt, you just need some basic skills to get your ideas on paper.
Creating a series of rough drafts is a powerful planning tool. Pin them to a wall to see the year’s promotional efforts at a glance. This is the message you’ll be sending to customers and prospects. Is it a compelling one? At this point, you usually add or delete ideas to round out your message and create more impact.
Discuss: With your sketches in hand, it’s time to discuss ideas with your photographer. When photographers understand how the headline text will interact with the final image, they can plan to have simple backgrounds in the specific places where the text will fall. If possible, have actual samples of the product on hand during this meeting. This helps when discussing props, backgrounds and lighting.
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.