Catalog Doctor: Sure Things
PATIENT: Doc, I hope to keep my catalog healthy during this economic epidemic. I've slimmed down by cutting overhead. Now I need to focus on marketing. But it's got to be low or no risk. Any sure things that I can count on to deliver results?
CATALOG DOCTOR: There are no "sure things." But like fruits and vegetables can help keep your body in shape, here are two prescriptions to help your catalog health.
1: Make Your Catalog Layout ?Fast and Easy to View
Many catalogs are pretty, but hard to use. They're great when a photo grabs your customers' attention, but bad when they go searching for the copy. It's not that your customers can't figure out where to find the copy, but is that how you want them to spend their time? No, you want them focused on how great your products are and how much they want to buy them.
Ideally, once a photo catches users' eyes, their eyes should go to the right copy so instantly, so intuitively, that no one notices the process. Look at the illustrations here, for example.
In Figure 1, the images are massed together in two spaces, and the copy is massed together in its own space. Say viewers like the big image at the top right, where will they intuitively look for its copy? Immediately below the image. But they won't find it because there are three images on that page but only two copy blocks.
Counting copy blocks backward, the last block on the left page must go with the big image at the top of the right page. Since it's impossible to find this copy unconsciously, the designer had to add an "E" to both the image and copy. Adding letters is very common and understood by readers, but it's never intuitive, and it's never fast. It adds time and work for your already harried customers. Why do that when you could make their lives easier ?and pleasant?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.