When you call a catalog advertising agency, designer or copywriter, you expect to have things your way. After all, you have the cash.
While you certainly can have things your way, the strongest-selling catalogs generally are those in which the cataloger has worked as a partner with — not a dictator to — the creative team.
How can you bring a detailed knowledge of your product line and customers to the table, without smothering the creative process with non-negotiable rules? Following are four guidelines that may help.
1. Leave your quirks at the door.
A national manufacturer with a highly respected brand launched a consumer catalog, hired a catalog agency to produce it, but assigned an inside manager to oversee the program. The inside manager was a level-headed businessperson, but he dressed in a quirky way. He didn’t think this was odd; he considered it a point of distinction, a mark of good taste — and he began imposing that taste on the catalog. Soon, every shot in the catalog reflected the manager’s odd style, impairing the catalog’s selling effectiveness.
A common source of reduced selling effectiveness is a cataloger imposing an odd personal belief on the catalog team. I don’t mean truly bizarre things that are easy to identify. Rather, I’m referring to subtle personality quirks that in personal life may just make your friends smile, but when imposed onto a catalog, can do real damage to sales.
How can you identify such quirks in yourself? Make a short list of the things you feel very strongly about in your catalog’s creative presentation. Those are precisely the things about which you’re most likely to be wrong and the areas in which you’re most likely to do damage.
For example, a cataloger I know changed agencies every couple years, because the owner was convinced that sales depended on how perfectly neutral the color of its stainless steel products were printed in the book. I assured this cataloger that I could achieve perfect color neutrality, which I did by photographing and separating the stainless steel products totally in black and white. The final printed images contained no magenta, cyan or yellow dot.