Catalog Cover Controversies, Part 2
- A hero product with related products as props (e.g., a mixer propped with a mixing spoon and cake pan).
- A hero product with small inset images of other products.
- If you sell apparel, show a whole outfit rather than single items. Or show several items in one shot on models or mannequins.
- If you sell furniture, show a room setting rather than a single item.
- A grid of different products can be a nice, eye-catching change. A grid can be simple and straightforward or artfully arranged.
The key is to keep the covers fresh. You don't need to tie yourself to a single repeating formula (like "grid" or "one big hero"). Rather, you can create a rotation of looks and number of products featured to make each cover fresh — and your customers opening your catalog and buying.
Don't Show Any Products At All?
How about a an illustration or lifestyle cover? Do you really need to show products at all? Not always. The answer depends on your brand, how recognizable your logo is, and what will resonate with your audience.
An old-line outdoor cataloger tested "scenic" vs. "product" vs. "antique photo" (of old-time outdoorsmen). Results? Surprisingly, perhaps, antique photo produced the best results, followed by product and scenic, respectively. The winning concept was successfully rolled out, executed in various ways for ongoing freshness.
Like the example above, some catalogers have had success with product-free covers. However, almost always product-free covers are used in rotation with more traditional, product-focused covers.
If you have a feeling that an out-of-the-ordinary cover might work for your brand, then by all means test. Covers are one of the cheapest kinds of tests you can do. Can't test? Getting management pushback? You'll always be safe sticking with big products on your covers.
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.