Catalog Doctor: Prescriptions for Profitable Pagination
PATIENT: "Doc, my old print catalog staff have retired, and the new young staff don't know catalog techniques like pagination. Can you give me a road map for pagination to share with my staff?"
CATALOG DOCTOR: "I'd be glad to. Pagination is the science of which products go where in the catalog, how to group them and how much space to allocate to each. The goal of pagination is to help guide your customers and prospects to a buying decision. Therefore, keeping your customer in mind while you're building your pagination is crucial, and will help maximize your catalog's sales. Here are definitions and prescriptions for different types of catalogs."
Your Mailing Plan is Key to Pagination
This surprises some people, but it's true. Do you print only once a year for fall/holiday, but with multiple cover changes? If so, you need a single pagination, optimized for holiday giving. Do you mail year-round with frequent changes to the catalog "guts"? If that's the case, then you should vary your pagination seasonally. Do you mail the same catalog to all your lists, or different catalogs to prospects than to customers? You'll find guidelines here common to all, plus tips for each catalog type.
What Are ‘Hot Spots’ and Why Do They Matter?
Hot spots are those pages in your catalog that are seen most easily. Products in hot spots will sell better than they will elsewhere. That means, in most cases, your best-selling products should be on your hot-spot pages. The sales lift you'll get from placing best-sellers in hot spots will maximize your overall revenue. Primary hot spots are the opening spread, back cover, inside back-cover spread (pages that folks who are quickly glancing at the catalog will see even if they never flip deeper inside), center spread (where the catalog opens most naturally to) and the pages facing any insert (the insert will make the catalog fall open to those pages).
Pretty-good-selling pages are those that follow the hot-spot pages. "Desert" pages fall the furthest from the hot-spot pages. "OK" pages are in between.
Unit Drivers, Revenue Drivers and Heroes
A unit driver, as the name suggests, is a product that sells lots and lots of units. Unit drivers appeal to a broad audience, thus why they sell so many units. That also means you'll get better response from prospects if you make unit drivers easy to find by putting them on the hot spots in your prospect books.
Revenue drivers usually sell fewer units, but they drive a lot of revenue. They're usually higher priced than unit drivers, sometimes substantially. Put these in hot spots for customers (make unit drivers easy for customers to find, too). A few precious products are both unit drivers and revenue drivers. Keep these products easy to find in the hot spots or nearby.
A hero is a product that you make larger or more eye catching on a spread. Past sales per square inch determines which products deserve hero treatment. You won't be able to fit all unit drivers nor all revenue drivers on the hot-spot pages, but you can give them prominent positioning on other pages to grab a viewer's attention. Doing so helps slow viewers down enough to look at more products on each spread.
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.