Print Alternatives: Can't Afford Catalogs Anymore?
Catalog Success recently took two of its longest-standing columnists to task. Strategy scribe Stephen R. Lett and Catalog Doctor Susan J. McIntyre have spent the better part of their careers producing or helping clients produce print catalogs. But do catalogs have a future in this integrated selling environment?
We posed that question to them along with other topical questions about the best and most practical ways to use print going forward.
CATALOG SUCCESS: With postage up again and the economy in bad shape, catalogers are looking to cut circulation or find print alternatives to catalogs that’ll drive sales to the Web. Are postcards a viable low-cost alternative?
STEVE LETT: Postcards can be an effective tool if used properly. They can drive Web traffic, for instance. They’re attention-getting and can motivate buyers to take action.
There are three characteristics of an effective postcard: 1. a clear call for action; 2. a bold and strong promotional offer; and 3. a deadline, i.e., “act now!”
Postcards are typically ineffective when mailed to prospects. They should be used in addition to scheduled catalog mailings, not in lieu of them.
SUSAN McINTYRE: I’ll add to that: I’ve seen two options that work. One, postcards can work if they extend the time limit on the offer from the prior catalog. Two, they also can work if they offer a really great deal that you don’t offer anywhere else. But yes, Steve, typically both only work to buyers, not prospects.
CS: What about mailing a catalog with just a fraction of the pages of your regular catalog, one that sells just your top-selling products so you save on paper and postage?
McINTYRE: Smaller page count catalogs can work if they’re filled with just best-sellers. But these typically only work if mailed to prospects. Existing buyers often have already bought your best-sellers, so they respond better to a wider product offering.