Catalog Doctor: Sell More With Catalog Copy That’s Kind to Customers
Rearrange Before You Rewrite
The “old-style” copy works well for folks who have time to sit and read at a leisurely pace, who can and want to concentrate their attention on your copy. But who has the time to concentrate anymore?
So, should this copy be rewritten to half its size? Not necessarily. There’s another — easier — way to make this copy work much better for nonleisured, short-on-concentration folks: Rearrange the copy by moving key points out of the body text and into highlight elements where time-pressured, stressed readers can find them instantly at scanning speed.
The headline is a good example:
Stainless Steel Burner Covers
This is an old-style, “name-the-product” headline that doesn’t mean much to folks not already familiar with burner covers or the reasons to own them. A better headline would help answer that reader’s first question, “Why would anyone want burner covers?” That answer is already there, but it’s currently buried inside the body copy: “Burner covers were the traditional solution to protect your clean burners (or conceal dirty ones).”
If we move that burner cover benefit from the body copy to the headline, our new headline becomes:
Stainless Steel Burner Covers Protect Your Clean
Burners, Conceal Dirty Ones
That simple change cuts the body copy by 10 percent, helping reduce the appearance of excessive copy so more people read it. Even better, that change helps readers notice the primary product benefit, without effort, at high scanning speeds.
That’s a good start, and we can do more. But before exploring our other changes, let’s look more closely at why we need them by getting into the head of an imaginary customer.
Molly: the Distracted Customer
Molly does the purchasing for a small clinic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is a soccer mom the rest of the time. She buys from catalogs — at work and home. Today she’s home, still thinking about a sick co-worker and how to find an out-file vendor to replace one that just closed. Her mind’s also occupied with thoughts of postponing the kitchen remodeling she’s been looking forward to in order to pay for her oldest child’s braces, taking her middle child to soccer practice in an hour and finding new day care for her youngest. Plus, she’s planning four meals for her in-laws, who are visiting this weekend.