5 Top Catalog FAQs
The frequently asked questions (FAQs) below are real questions I've been asked over and over through the years. I'm not making these up. If you get asked these questions too, here are quick and simple answers you can use.
FAQ No. 1: "Why do we have to mail so many catalogs when most never result in orders? Why can't we just mail to the people who are going to buy?"
Quick Answer: A, there's no way to know who's going to buy and, B, most mailers (probably including your company) have already, for every mailing, been taking many technologically advanced steps — from statistical modeling to data overlays to list hygiene and more — to pare each mailing list down to just those who actually are most likely to buy. Assuming no change in offers, prices or design, the resulting response rates for most catalogers are about as good as they're going to get for now.
FAQ No. 2: "Aren't all the catalog design ‘rules’ obsolete? Don't you need on-trend design to have a successful catalog nowadays?"
Quick Answer: It's a fallacy that "trendy design" and catalog rules are inconsistent with one another. Another fallacy is that catalog rules are obsolete. Two foundations of all catalog rules are clarity and that shopping should be as easy as possible for the customer. Those two rules can be executed with many different design styles and many different copy voices.
FAQ No. 3: "Don't we need models in our photos? Don't models always help products sell better?"
Quick Answer: Some product categories sell better with models, some without. What works best for you? To find out, first check if your competitors use models or not … they might be on to something. Second, test a few products with and without models and see if your catalog sees a sales difference.
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.