Catalog Doctor: Break Out of the Catalog Mold
Good places to start that are also enjoyable reading: Homer's "Iliad," Caesar's "Civil War," any Shakespeare (the No Fear Shakespeare series offers handy side-by-side translations), Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" (you needn't read the whole thing — just tackle a few chunks), Anthony Trollope (try "The Way We Live Now" for a startling parallel to Bernard Madoff) and Tolstoy's "War and Peace."
Study Noncatalog Brands
You can enhance your catalog's brand communication by studying what general brands are doing. Don't just look at your product categories — go wider afield. For example, say your brand has some history behind it, and you think leveraging that history might sell: Study what great history-?based brands are doing, like Steinway and Stickley.
Study the history-related techniques they're using in brand communication. How do they talk about their past? How do they carry forward that authenticity into what they do today? How do they bridge changes in ownership and manufacturing techniques to make their histories relevant to today's customers?
Read the Business News
What are other noncatalog-based companies doing — companies totally unrelated to your business? How are they approaching shrinking market share? What are they doing about pricing: raising or lowering? Are they developing innovative hiring practices? How are they communicating their brands?
Other businesses may be taking steps that you, as a cataloger, wouldn't have thought of. But, if you break out of the catalog-think box, you'll find ideas to apply to your own business for surprising results.
Susan J. McIntyre is founder and chief strategist of catalog marketing and consulting firm McIntyre Direct (susan@?mcintyredirect.com).
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.