Cataloger Spotlight: Cataloger Discovers the Joy of Less Fun
For more than a year, Susan Landay and her staff at Trainers Warehouse discussed ways to strengthen the company’s brand. The 17-year-old catalog marketer of such training and teaching aids as buzzers, certificate frames, fidget toys, flip charts, easels and others was profitable, but Landay felt the company wasn’t realizing its full potential.
“We realized our products appealed to more than just those who were buying from us,” says Landay, the Natick, Mass.-based company’s president. “We wanted to deepen our penetration into our niche and expand our appeal.”
Last February, after some outside consultation, Trainers Warehouse launched a rebranding campaign.
Trainers Warehouse learned it was having too much fun with its brand. Though it markets fun and sometimes wacky products, the end goal is serious: to improve the effectiveness of the classroom experience by making trainers/teachers more effective at communicating and reinforcing new information. And the benefits of the products had become an afterthought to how much fun they were to use.
“To promote the aspect of fun, maybe some of the benefits of the products — of working with and purchasing from Trainers Warehouse — got a little blurred,” says George Hague, vice president at J. Schmid & Assoc., the consulting firm that worked extensively on Trainers Warehouse’s rebranding efforts. This “fun” approach limited Trainers Warehouse’s market share.
To create a more serious look and stress the innovativeness of the products without entirely losing the fun aspect, the company made several catalog creative changes. The fill and adjunct colors that used to clutter the layout pages were removed, allowing the products themselves — which are bright and colorful, in varying shapes and textures — to emphasize color and excitement. This, in turn, freed up lots of space.
The photography in the book also was addressed — particularly the images of models using the products. Hague was concerned these images conveyed too frivolous an attitude regarding the products and who would be using them. So the images were toned down and reshot with a more professional approach. “When that professionalism element was added and juxtaposed with these fun products,” Hague says, “it achieved a very nice balance.”
Trainers Warehouse didn’t stop there. Additional changes to the catalog included a new logo, with a simpler, less playful font and more focus on “Trainers” than “Warehouse”; changes to the color scheme, where lighter shades of blue and yellow were used to better reflect an image of innovation and effectiveness, Landay says; decreasing the number of products on each page; reintroducing tips and testimonials to the copy to emphasize the company’s position as an innovator and leader in educating its customers on the uses of a variety of products, and the research supporting its products’ benefits. Also, product placement was shifted from the inside of the pages to the outside, with the copy text near the binding.
To notify customers of the upcoming change to the Trainers Warehouse brand, the company e-mailed all its customers the week before the catalog would arrive in their mailboxes in mid-July. A letter from Landay explaining the catalog’s new look also was included in the rebranded catalog’s inside front cover.
The fruits of Trainers Warehouse’s labor will be improved sales with existing customers and “appeal to greater numbers of new and prospective customers,” Landay says, “and to be seen as industry leaders, acting as a conduit of exciting new teaching and learning techniques.”