How Copy Can Increase Catalog Scannability
- The Finest Grade Goose-Down Pillow You Can Buy At This Price
- Original Tangee Lipstick and Blush Change Color To Complement Your Skin
Headlines without any product name at all: If your style guide doesn't require the product name (and if your reader can tell what the product is from the photo), turning the major benefit into the entire product headline will garner max interest at scanning speed. CHEFS catalog does this well — e.g., "Press a button to make ice cream or gelato" — as does FootSmart — "Leather walkers withstand the rigors of life and the washer."
2. Giving subheads impact. If your headline is a "plain" product name and your style guide mandates a subhead, then put the primary benefit and/or differentiator right into the subhead to catch the most interest at scanning speeds.
Hotter Shoes’ catalog has short names and short but effective subheads:
Lightweight air-filled sole
Wiggle room for toes"
J.Jill's longer headlines and subheads for featured products are scannable and interest-evoking:
"LOFTY & LIGHT SHAKER-STITCH TOPPER
soft alpaca & merino wool add lux warmth to this refined, flattering piece"
3. Make the first line of body copy work hard. Your reader will scan, in this order, the headline, subhead and first few words of body copy. Make sure those first few words of body copy are snappy. Don't begin the first line with "the," "this" or "these." Borrrring. Also avoid "our" if you can. Don't repeat the product name in the first line if it's already in the headline. Doing so just wastes your interest-grabbing opportunity. Here's an example of a poor use of body copy:
"Folding Steel & Canvas Camp Stool
This camp stool, made of steel and canvas, folds to just …" Yawn goes your reader.
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.