Grow Sales and Your Bottom Line
By Jack Schmid
One way: Test insert media and other options.
Particularly challenging in today's business-to-business (b-to-b) catalog environment is testing new ideas that can have a positive impact on future revenues and profits. And if you have a big, perfect-bound catalog, effective testing can be even more problematic. But you have alternatives that can help you present new merchandise and offers or target a special message to a specific customer segment.
In Your Creative
While consumer catalogs have used order-form changes to test offers, messages and even products, b-to-b catalogs — with their more common single page, back-of-the-book order form — usually must find other ways to test new ideas. It might surprise you to learn, however, that printing, binding and blow-in technologies have brought additional options in insert media — options you can use in your testing initiatives.
One caveat: During the testing phase, stay focused on your overall goal. When exploring separate bind-in inserts or catalog wraps, for example, be sure your base or control catalog isn't being changed or affected by the testing. Any special promotion, then, should be in addition to your base catalog.
That said, here are three options to try in your creative:
1. An inserted signature (8, 12, 16 or more pages). This can be put into a perfect-bound big catalog or inserted between signatures of a saddle-stitched book. To help the insert stand out from the rest of your catalog, some companies prefer to change page size, use a different type of paper or design the pages using a color palette different from the main book. The good news about an inserted signature is that there's quite a bit of flexibility about where to put the insert: center, inside or between other signatures.
2. A wrap-around or "outsert" technique can be comprised of as few as four pages or an entire signature. The wrap on a saddle-stitched catalog is just that: half the pages in the front of the catalog and half in back. In a perfect-bound catalog, the pages can include the front cover, with additional pages inserted as the opening section of the catalog.