Creative Cut: Goodson Builds on Lengthy History
I’m a virgin in the engine-building world — intimidated by all things technical and motorized. I’m definitely not one of Goodson’s customers. Lucky for Goodson, a cataloger that specializes in tools and supplies for engine builders, I do know a bit about branding, marketing communications and best practices for catalog success and customer satisfaction, and it’s apparent to me that Goodson does all of this.
Goodson owner Scott Biesanz is certainly interested in building greatness that lasts. His opening letter states: “Some companies have faded, others have service problems and still others have gone out of business entirely. But here at Goodson, we’re going strong. We’ve been in this industry since 1945 and we intend to be in it for the long haul.”
As a marketing strategist, I was impressed with Goodson’s disciplined approach to branding. Sometimes B-to-B companies serving niche markets neglect it.
Goodson sets out to make its unique selling proposition known to its target audience. The catalog has a bold, easy-to-read name and tagline that it faux watermarks on every page of the catalog. The last time I saw this done was on upscale Crane stationery; it’s great branding. Goodson wisely uses green, its company color, throughout the two-color book.
The catalog also makes effective use of unconventional headers to convey a personal touch and to reinforce Goodson’s technical expertise. Many pages not only have relevant customer testimonials in the headers, but also quotes from key technical and upper-level employees. To prospects, these messages serve as brand reinforcement. For loyal customers, they solidify their positive experience.
That said, I’d recommend Goodson consider sprucing up its branded footers — for 145 pages, they don’t change. Certainly the secure ordering information and contact info on each spread is important, but it should consider alternating that message with its other five core branding positions:
• same day shipping on all orders placed by 7 p.m.;
• order desk open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., five days a week;
• iron-clad satisfaction guarantee;
• four ASE-certified master machinists on staff to answer technical questions; and
• made-to-order crankwheels shipped within 24 hours.
All the essentials appear on the front cover: name, tagline and ordering information. Goodson also uses the cover as a visual index to showcase its product selection. The distinctive grindstones are an effective design element. But they make the cover a little too busy; customers might find it hard to know what products to concentrate on.
The grid effect on the top third of the cover competes a bit with the name and brand message. So to go from good to great, I’d suggest Goodson simplify its cover concept.
Again, all the essentials are here: the main brand stories, ordering information and notes from both the owner and the tech services manager. In addition to the five main brand messages, the two letters on this spread repeat some of the same messages. They ought to be redesiged for a faster read.
The note from the tech services manager is in the hot spot on the spread. And for a company built and centered around the importance of technical expertise, this is a good touch. But this spread would improve if Goodson were to simplify its copy approach.
The visual-index idea is carried out. It’s prime real estate for catalogers, and Goodson makes good use of it to sell product. There are a few inconsistencies, however: Two products have prices, the other two don’t. One product sends you back to pg. 5. The others don’t give category references. All four products should be in the same format, in sync with one another.
Inside Back Cover & Index
There’s room for improvement here, too. As is, it’s used as a conventional additional spread. This prime real estate could be used more effectively by perhaps showcasing best-sellers, sale items or even new items. Although many companies default to using their inside back cover and other back pages for their index, Goodson takes it a step further by relocating it to the middle of the catalog.
The index is punctuated by boldface categories. Overall, it’s easy to use. There’s also a quick, single page, “Powersports Index,” that lets customers shop by their need or want. Goodson has consolidated ordering information and other policies on one simple-to-read page at the end of the index.
The Goodson catalog is well-organized, representing a convenient shopping experience for its customers. It’s obvious that the cataloger cares about its customers and doesn’t take customers’ business or their loyalty for granted.
Andrea Syverson is president of IER Partners, a creative, merchandising and branding consultancy based in Black Forest, Colo. You can reach her at email@example.com.