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How a Catalog Can Do More than List Your Products

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In recent years the catalog has been making a comeback. With the ever growing array of digital marketing that consumers are subverted to on a daily basis and the inescapable allure of device screens, engaging with a brand through a tactile medium like a catalog is a refreshing escape from onscreen time.

Your business can use catalogs to create a powerful experience that your ideal consumer and existing customers alike will enjoy exploring and engaging with. After nearly a decade of decline, catalogs mailed in the United States increased to nearly 12 billion, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Brands in nearly every industry, but especially retail, are going to great lengths to create more than just a catalog, but a journey for their customers.

But not all catalogs will prevail in today’s media landscape. In order for your catalog to prevail it needs to have personality and emotion. Your catalog should not be just about the products your company sells but rather an artifact of your brand.

Telling Stories

Brand storytelling is nothing new, in fact it’s one of the seminal concepts of advertising. Creating a narrative for your business is extremely powerful and helps consumers connect with you in ways that touting the merits of your products and services cannot. It’s likely that you’re not the only one working in the space your business operates, so telling your brand's story can help you stand out by explaining why you're different, better, and more thoughtful than your competitors.

There are tons of ways to tell your story, especially right now with the rising popularity of internet video, social media, and other digital marketing platforms and channels. But nothing will give your business more credibility than a quality catalog.

Essentially, your business is publishing its own magazine, a magazine that highlights not only the products and services your business offers but the people, work, and passion that is the lifeblood of your organization. If you can illustrate the dedication you have for your business and craft, consumers will become enamored with it as well.

Catalogs Aggregate and Curate the Digital Marketplace

Most popular magazines aggregate and curate ideas, products, and services, and inspire their readers to act on pursuing a lifestyle choice. Since the internet opens up an infinite marketplace where consumers can access nearly any product or service at a click of a button, catalogs can provide much needed assurance that your brand is worthy of their hard earned dollars and help them achieve a lifestyle upgrade.

The days of actually ordering something directly from a catalog via mail or telephone are long over. That does not mean that they don’t serve an important role in inspiring shoppers by showing them a curated vision of credible and engaging products.

Take the retailer Lands' End, which does a considerable amount of business both in retail locations and online. When they scaled back their catalog distribution model they experienced a $100 million drop in sales according to research by Kurt Salmon. The retailer later added a survey to its website which concluded that 75 percent of their customers online first consulted a Lands' End catalog before logging on to their website to make a purchase.

This kind of buyer experience is being used by top brands like REI, Anthropologie, and Gap. They are increasing the number of catalogs they mail to customers, but doing so in a strategic manner. By creating showcases for their products, and telling stories that revolve around their respective lifestyle brands, they have produced an authentic conversation between their customers and brand ambassadors.

Help Solve Customer Issues

No matter your industry, product, or service, your customers have pain points. After you have carefully identified the issues, catalogs can give you a space to show how your business addresses these challenges or how they can overcome them on their own accord. In a sense, a catalog can be a guide book for your clients.

Just like blog posts, catalogs are a form of content. Using it to educate, inform and empower your customers to make better purchasing decisions and learn more about your industry helps create loyalty by developing more confident buyers. By creating a piece of reference that your clients will go back to also ensures that your catalog will stick around.

Focus on Your Company's Brand

The most focused consumers can be on your brand is when they are flipping through your catalog. If you create a compelling and engaging catalog, consumers will focus on its content more than any other marketing channel. The average consumer will spend somewhere between 5 - 15 minutes with a catalog; an astounding amount of time compared to the bounce rates of web traffic.

It’s easier for consumers to sit down with a catalog than it is for them to take their time on a website. The internet is a very distracting space, it’s extremely simple to move from one thing to the other, without even thinking about it. Catalogs give you the opportunity to have your customer's undivided attention.

Catalogs can be a very powerful marketing channel for your business and, for certain types of businesses, may be the single most important driving force behind sales. Although the traditional product catalog has evolved into the easily searchable and navigable online store, the brand-focused catalog is an outstanding opportunity for brands that wish to curate and engage customers in a new way that digital channels cannot achieve.

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