Print Catalogs & Web Working Together (1,425 words)
As 1998's holiday season approached, a record number of retailers sought revenue from Internet sales in addition to their concrete storefronts. But Web-based selling is not yet the golden child of the industry. It still requires a helping hand from other media to ensure that customers can find your site in the massive volume of Web pages. One way to attract attention to your site: Print a catalog.
Every November, print catalogs fight for visibility in the holiday shopper's mailbox. In 1998, two companies upped the ante by being different: the Dell Home Systems Catalog and barnesandnoble.com got shoppers off the phone and onto the 'Net.
Although both companies declined to comment on the marketing and production details of their catalogs, Brian Boyd, director of marketing for Barnes & Noble, New York City, did state that the barnesandnoble.com catalog "is a natural extension ... of being a multi-channel retailer." If printing a catalog to pull consumers online becomes a trend, then the 1999 round of mailbox competition may be bloody indeed.
We examined these two catalogs and consulted with Steve Trollinger, account executive for catalog consulting firm J. Schmid & Associates, Shawnee Mission, KS, for insight into the possible marketing strategies and overall effectiveness of these print efforts.
When we first flipped through Dell Home Systems' holiday issue, we were not sure whether we were shopping for computers or decorating accessories. Along with computer hardware and system configurations, we see the well-appointed rooms that house these systems. This is computer selling through lifestyle marketing, where the computer is not simply a piece of hardware, but a "home system." This is a refreshing change from the average computer catalog that features crammed pages and a smiling call center operator. The Dell catalog is classy, employing a balance of white space, subdued colors, and thoughtful product positioning. It follows the rules of catalog marketing by drawing readers into the book with a reason to buy. The cover sets the tone for the shopping experience, by featuring a full desktop computer system, atop a wooden accent table instead of a desk. Festively wrapped presents and family photos complete the non-office decor. Any title involving the words "business," or "corporate," is obviously inappropriate.