Benefit + Unique Sells
Are your catalog and products unique? Are they loaded with customer benefits? If "yes" to both, are you also telling your benefit and unique story well enough to your customers?
A Catalog That Did it Wrong
True story. A few years ago, a relatively new cataloger went out of business. I'll call it "Catalog Look-a-Like."
Catalog Look-a-Like's fundamental problem was it was started specifically to clone the top competitors in its market, rather than carving out a niche within that market or adding a new twist to the product offering.
Catalog Look-a-Like sold the same products as its competitors, sourced from the same vendors, used the same vendor photos, offered look-a-like prices, service, guarantees ... the works. It might at least have done a better job of selling product benefits, but its product stories were look-a-like too.
The company got some customers, but few repeat buyers. Market share stayed small because why would satisfied customers of a competitor switch to Look-a-Like when Look-a-Like offered no competitive advantages?
Does this sound like an extreme example? Not so much as you'd think. This type of "look-a-like" thinking infects many catalogers to one degree or another.
Why Unique? Why Benefits?
Becoming less look-a-like and more unique — and better communicating the benefits of the uniqueness you offer — will increase response and customer loyalty.
"Unique" for catalogs means the design, fabrication, color, etc., is one of a kind (not that the individual item is a limited edition of one). Isn't getting unique products really hard? Well, it's not easy, but many catalogers big and small have learned how to do it, and do it well.
Catalogs That Do it Right
Here are a few examples of catalog brands that have succeeded at communicating the benefits and uniqueness of its products to customers and prospects:
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.