Catalog Doctor: Break Out of the Catalog Mold
Study Your Spam
Look closely at all those emails you get, whether you signed up for them or not. What subject lines caught your attention, prompting you to open them? These can stimulate your thinking about front cover messages and big spread headlines inside your book. Once opened, what graphics caught your eye? Were heads or cross-sells in places you didn't expect? You can take ideas from this instant-access medium to make your catalog more powerful and accessible in today's marketplace.
Visit an Art Museum
One of the definitions of "great art" is that it's timeless. That is, enough people agreed that it was great art, century after century, that we still call it great art today. That must mean great art speaks to something deep down inside people that many share in common.
So take a look at that great art. Go to your local museum and look at art — both old and new. What color palettes do you see? What about proportion? Perspective? Simplicity or complexity of design? What's the focal point? The eye flow? Try laying a grid over a favorite great painting: Could you put your headline here, your hero product there and line up your subsidiary products over yonder? You may be able to turn inspiration from great art into ideas for refreshing your layouts.
Read the Classics
By reading fiction and history across the centuries, you can get into the human head better and view the motivations and emotions that emerge over and over again. These fundamental action drivers still work today. Broad historic reading helps you separate the unchanging core of human emotion from pop psycho-trends. That helps you drill down to the most powerful benefits of your products and brand, so you can build copy that sells better.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.