Why Catalogs Aren't a Bunch of Ads Stapled Together
PATIENT: "Doc, our new owners want to change the catalog so it's more like a series of ads — aspirational, exciting, clean, with attention-grabbing headlines on each spread. They figure ads work to drive sales to their brick-and-mortar stores, so that proven formula will work for the catalog too."
CATALOG DOCTOR: "It's the same old story. They're new to catalogs so "common sense" says their noncatalog experience must apply to catalogs too. Like others before them, they may have to lose a lot of money before they're willing to try proven catalog principles."
Ads are great … in their place. Good ads grab attention and create desire. They make your prospect want to go to your store and check out a brand or product. Good ads help consumers remember the product and brand favorably, so they're more likely to buy when they're in a store (or if they're online and see a good web ad, to click to that ad's site).
Ads are like two-step mailings:
- Step 1, ad: grab attention and create desire.
- Step 2, store: once they're in-store, sell to them.
How is Ad Selling Done?
Selling might be done via packaging or labels, filling the prospect in on what they need to know before they buy (e.g., "Recyclable, yes!, union-made in the USA, great, oh look, a warranty card with a lifetime guarantee — I'm ready to check out"); via sampling ("Tastes great, got a coupon, guess I'll add it to my cart"); and via a salesperson ("You can drive your daughter's entire school band in this vehicle, just like I did for my son, and look, under this floor panel is room for her tuba").
In contrast, a catalog is almost a one-step solution. A successful catalog does the job of the ad and the store and the packaging and the salesperson. The only thing the catalog doesn't do is dial the phone or enter the SKU in your website's quick-search box.