Catalog Doctor: The Page-Smart Catalog
Prescription: Analyze the elements that make your proven products successful. Only test a new product if it includes one or more “proven” elements. Example: You’ve found a gorgeous new print fabric for a blouse; introduce it first on your best-selling blouse body style. Similarly, if you want to test a brand-new body style, introduce it in your best-selling colors.
3. Replacing a best-seller? Don’t stray too far.
Prescription: When a best-seller’s discontinued, search for a replacement that’s as close as possible to the product you’re replacing. For example, your supplier no longer stocks your best-selling Snowman Gift Tower boxes. But the supplier has a really cute Santa Tower box it suggests as a replacement. Should you say yes? Not before searching for another snowman. The snowman was a proven motif for you. Abandoning it altogether is risky — customers might abandon you for some catalog that still has their snowmen.
4. Testing a new line extension? Include elements from a “proven” line. When sales are down due to a poor economy, adding a new line extension can make up lost sales by giving customers more reasons to buy. But how do you minimize the risk of a bomb?
Prescription: Analyze the reasons your customers buy a proven line. Then give them as many of the same reasons to buy your new line as possible. Do you specialize in hand-decorated, all-natural candies and are thinking of adding a cookie line? That means your cookies also should be all-natural and hand-decorated. Moreover, for your cookie launch, apply the same decorations you use on your best-selling candies where possible. If your cookies take off, then you can test ones with new decorations.
Susan J. McIntyre is founder of McIntyre Direct, a full-service catalog creative agency and consulting firm based in Portland, Ore. She can be reached at (503) 286-1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or email@example.com.