Catalog Doctor: How to Boost Page Sales, A Marketer's Checklist
Patient: Doc, my catalog looks good, and the copy's pretty good, too. But somehow I don't feel like each page is selling as well as it could. Can you give my team any prescriptions for boosting page “sellability”?
Catalog Doctor: Many catalogers have merchants select the products for each two-page spread, then hand them to designers/copywriters to make them look and sound good. But that process can miss the middle step of analyzing how to make each two-page spread sell harder. Here's a prescription for a checklist to help you add that analysis step. Follow it and your catalog should sell better soon.
Marketer's Checklist for Two-Page Spreads to Orient Consumers
- A big spread headline can add clarity, sell and pacing. It can help consumers decide if the spread is worth looking at.
Ask: Does this spread need one? Examples: "Our lightest T-shirts are cool and comfortable," "Are you vacation ready?" and "Luxury."
- Small category titles are like tabs in a big dictionary. Used often by B-to-B catalogers, they can work well for many consumer catalogs by helping consumers know "they're in a section they're interested in."
Ask: Should this spread have a category title? Examples: "Kitchen" or "Garage" in a home catalog, "Classics" or "Mysteries" in a book catalog. Sometimes longer is better: "Chevy Parts" is good, "Chevy Parts 1965 and Older" is better.
- Category breaker spreads "break up" standard design patterns to catch attention and say, "Hey, new category starts here, better take a look."
Ask: Should this be a breaker spread? If yes, what technique should you use: introduction? Big feature product? Lifestyle shot? Switching from a grid to a nongrid, or vice versa?
Strategies to Increase Page Views by Quick-Scanning Shoppers
- Hero products (bigger than average, placed in key spots) help grab readers’ attention so they slow down and look at the rest of the products on each spread.
- Ask: Have I assigned a No. 1 and No. 2 hero for this spread? Are they best-sellers for that category? Occasionally "new" or something else special can justify making a non-best-seller a hero.
- Useful/interesting product groupings help quick-scanning readers better notice great products.
Ask: How can I build effective groups on this spread? Examples: Chicken-motif items together, dustpans with brooms, group of anti-pest items.
- Don't bury special features.
Ask: Does this product have features that would benefit from special attention outside of the copy block? Examples: Photos of a hidden zip pocket, callouts to a Teflon coating, illustration of how a table unfolds, etc.
Editorial Support to Grow Interest and Time Spent on Page
- Editorial can build your brand's credibility as an expert, create interest in your products and product categories, demonstrate how to use your products, and provide more uses for your products. It doesn't need to take up much room, and can often be slotted in odd spaces amongst your products.
Ask: Will this spread benefit from editorial support? Examples:
- testimonials (product specific or quality/service-oriented);
- how to use (e.g., recipes for food/cookware catalogs, how to cast foam for building model train landscapes, tips for attracting songbirds,etc.);
- did you know ("this ingredient is chocked with these vitamins," "Thomas Jefferson used one just like it" and "in this country, you don't need to tip the help"); and
- good deeds ("proceeds from this product go to this charity," "we recycle" or "we partner with this good program").
Susan J. McIntyre is founder & chief strategist of McIntyre Direct, a full-service catalog marketing agency and consulting firm in Portland, Ore. She can be reached at (503) 286-1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or email@example.com.