A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures
Catalogs are such wonderfully visual experiences that copy, a critical component, often is overlooked. But the truth is that copy can make a star out of a mediocre image, or it can make good merchandise sound boring.
Many catalogers spend thousands of dollars looking for just the right designer, the perfect photographer and an inspiring shoot location, but then fail to consider the importance of the written word.
Indeed, visuals today often are placed at a higher level than copy. Yet to truly affect customers and boost sales, catalog copy should work even harder than its accompanying visuals. In general, good catalog copy must:
- communicate a brand,
- present relevant merchandise within that brand,
- involve the customer with a rich visual experience and
- have a voice that speaks to the target audience.
When discerning your catalog’s brand and voice — that is, its tone — ask yourself some key questions. Is your catalog upscale? Is it adventurous, romantic or fun? Does it have a lifestyle focus?
These important questions must be answered before effective copy can be written. Following are some tips that can help you plan for success.
First, Some Basics
In your catalog, do you have strong headlines, subheads and powerful and descriptive first sentences? Sometimes the headline is all a customer will read before she decides to learn more or leave.
Take-away tip: Don’t be afraid to use long headlines, as they’ve been proven to sell more than shorter versions.
Once you get the reader to go beyond the headline, be sure the body copy includes more than product features — use product benefits to compel the reader to buy. What are the differences between features and benefits? Features provide critical product information, such as fabric content, size, ingredients and colors. Although not glamorous, this information is critical. Use feature copy that’s conversational and direct.