All for One and One for All
Brad Ekiss, director of catalog marketing at Bowling Green, Ky.-based camping equipment mailer Camping World, says the company tries to promote all of its channels in each individual channel. Camping World has a catalog, Web site and more than 40 stores. “We don’t structure the catalog so it’s totally one channel. In the catalog we talk about searching on the site to see more products, and play up the retail end. Certain portions of the catalog even specifically talk to retail customers.”
Although many consumer mailers must present more of a unified brand presentation in their print books to reflect their different marketing channels, some business-to-business mailers don’t have a similar need. For instance, Nasco, a Fort Atkinson, Wisc.-based multititle cataloger of farm equipment and school supplies for educators has found that many of the educators it mails to are slow to adapt to the Internet for ordering, says president Phil Niemeyer. “So we haven’t made major changes to the catalogs” to reflect a shift in channel-buying patterns, he notes.
At the same time, however, the Internet has allowed Nasco to gain more sales through its print books than in the past. He notes that the concept of mailing fewer catalogs because more orders are coming online is just plain false. “Since most of the catalogs we mail go out only once a year, the Internet has increased our catalog numbers, because we use the Internet to send special offers and notify our customers about the shipping status of orders.”
Everything Old Is New Again
If anything, the increase in online ordering has led many catalogers to increase their print catalog circulation, rather than decrease it. “Multiple tests have proven that the catalog is still the key driver to pushing online sales,” Boyle of J. Schmid says. “The ‘tap on the shoulder’ that a catalog provides is still more intrusive in nature than a Web site will ever be, and helps keep the brand at the top of the consumer’s mind. We’ve seen a direct correlation between an increase in online activity when mail circulation is increased. Furthermore, the mailed catalog still upholds retention rates.”