How to Choose the Right Design Team to Implement Your Catalog
When clients come to me with questions about starting a catalog, invariably the subject of creative development comes up. Should it be their internal creative department despite its limited knowledge of catalog development; their agency, which really knows the business; or someone else entirely?
My answer to those questions always is this: Choose designers who specifically know the mail order catalog market. Why? Consider the following:
A catalog used to generate sales via mail/Internet ordering is a very different animal from a branding vehicle. It may look similar, but companies that create mail order catalogs know exactly how to build a catalog that not only builds your brand, but also sells your product. That’s the key difference: what looks simple actually is highly specialized and technical. Beautiful doesn’t always sell, and catalog design companies know how to generate sales.
• They understand the key drivers of stimulating response.
• They also understand the budgetary constraints that separate mail order from brand building.
How To Start, Who To Choose
If you’re entering the catalog arena for the first time, you’ll likely have a limited testing budget and no time to figure out how to build a mail order catalog on your own.
A catalog marketing agency, especially one with specific knowledge in your category should be a core member of your startup team. Start by contacting a number of catalog agencies and invite them to develop creative concepts for you. You’ll immediately see who gets your business and who doesn’t based on their comps.
In choosing an agency, look for one that does all facets of the catalog production process, from photography to layout and design, and even prepress (or pre-media as it’s often called now). That gives the agency a major stake in the process and provides you with complete accountability.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.