Cataloging Hot Spots
In a world where anything more than a month old is in danger of being considered obsolete, rules of thumb are a happy exception—they take time to develop, and the best of them gain validity with age.
In our last article we explored one of the oldest rules of thumb: the 1-percent response rate. In this column we’ll explore a rule that’s almost equally old: catalog hot spots.
We often hear about catalog “hot spots”—those magical spots in our catalogs that can dramatically boost sales for almost any product we place there.
But do such hot spots actually exist? Where are they, and why do they work? Do they vary from product to product, or catalog to catalog? How powerful are they really? And most importantly of all, can you use them to boost your sales and response rates?
“Catalog Hot Spots”: The Rule of Thumb
“Hot spots” are the pages in your catalog where any product will sell better.
The hottest spots are (in order):
1. The opening spread
2. The back cover
3. The pages adjacent to a bound-in order form
4. Any pages facing a bind-in card
5. The closing spread.
Are “hot spots” real?
Absolutely. I’ve sometimes seen an average product that’s moved from a cold page to a hot page increase its sales by 50 percent. Test it yourself!
What creates hot spots?
Hot spots exist for the same reason that the 1-percent response rate exists—because most people we mail to are not very interested in buying from us.
To see how lack of customer interest creates hot spots, consider first how our most enthusiastic customers treat our catalog. Every cataloger has some of these super-
loyalists—wonderful customers who would happily crawl over barbed wire to buy from us. How do super-loyalists read our catalog when it arrives? They devour it from cover to cover. Each inch of our catalog is treated equally by these super-loyal customers—which means there are no hot spots in catalogs mailed to super-loyal customers.