Marketing Via Catalogs
THE SUCCESS MARGIN
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Every entrepreneur and direct marketer is missing
a huge opportunity unless they produce catalogs
that generate outstanding revenues and huge
Properly prepared, a catalog can become a major
ongoing part of your marketing and advertising.
A powerful catalog can become a "cash cow" for
you. And, you can publish several times a year.
An effective schedule I favor is every six weeks.
As great as a catalog can be, surprisingly few
catalogs make money. I find this true in the
U.S., Europe and Asia.
Indeed, before they start to work with me, major
clients, including some of the biggest names in
direct marketing, tend to lose a small fortune
every time they produce one. And it's no
wonder. Most are poorly planned and executed.
Instead of being a major profit center, perhaps
more money is lost via catalogs than any other
form of direct marketing.
Today I'm going to cover the biggest mistakes.
Then I'll give you action tips that turn losing
catalog concepts into profitable winners.
First, who should produce a catalog?
If you market more than four or more products
or services, you definitely should be giving your
customers the opportunity to purchase them in a
smartly prepared catalog.
(In direct marketing, catalogs are often trans-
formed into what is called a magalog, which is a
combination magazine/catalog. In addition to
photos and product description, pertinent
editorial content is included, as well as an order
** Secrets of Successful Catalogs **
As with all forms of direct marketing, copy is
king. Do not try to have copy created on the
cheap. You, or the best copywriter you can
afford, should write the copy.
The most expensive mistake you can ever
make in marketing and advertising is to try
to save money on creative, especially the copy.
Indeed, by the time you factor in graphics,
printing, postage and mailing cost, copy
preparation even by a world-class copywriter
is perhaps the best investment you will ever make.
But keep in mind you don't necessarily need to
hire an outside copywriter. Very often you will
be your own best copywriter. Perhaps no one
can understand and have the passion for your
products as you do.
If you do not currently write copy, please note.
Nothing will pay you, the entrepreneur, more than
the ability to create copy. Studying copywriting
can be the best investment you've ever made.
Contrary to popular belief, learning to write great
copy is not inborn. It can be learned.
(Information will soon be available on my new
home-study course on copywriting entitled
"Million Dollar Copywriting Bootcamp." Stay
tuned to these pages for the details.)
Now I'm going to give you recommendations on
each major part of a catalog. These tips followed
religiously will hereinafter provide you The
Success Margin every time you produce a catalog.
Size: 8 ½ inches by 11 ½ inches
Layout: Do not exceed 7 inches by 10 inches
coverage. Leave a border of at least 1 inch
with no copy or graphics.
Number of pages: Eight to unlimited
Paper: Use glossy coated stock
Colors: Use full color; do not use reverse type
Typefaces: Use Times Roman (serif) for body copy
Headlines: Use Times Roman or Arial
Columns: Use a three-column layout; justified
left margin; ragged right margin. Indent each
paragraph three spaces with a line space between
Size of typeface: Do not go below 10 point
Photos: Feature photos mostly of happy people
making eye contact with reader. De-emphasize
photos of your product. Always caption photos.
Everyone in the photos doesn't have to be beautiful
or handsome. Ordinary-looking people help build
-- Company logo featured
-- No product benefits included
-- No headline
-- On upper part of page use a powerful photo.
-- Underneath photo, lead with a powerful and
dominant headline. This should convey the
unifying theme of all your products. For example,
for a publisher of "how to" materials:
6 Ways to Beat the System
-- Under headline, prepare at least six to 12 sub
headlines as bullets. These should be intriguing
and compelling and include a catalog page number.
-- Make the front of your catalog look and feel
similar to a good magazine.
-- Include a price on the front, such as $6.95.
-- Do not include company logo (a "me" message)
on front cover.
-- Little or no benefit copy. Many people read
back cover before the front.
-- Use 6-12 bulleted sub headlines, each referring
to a page number inside. These should be prepared
as intriguing benefit-driven headlines, 17 words
-- Use lower portion for your return address,
leaving room for an address label and mail indicia.
Inside Front Cover
-- Beginning directly with product information.
-- Inside front cover include a personal welcoming
message from the President along with a signed
letter in process blue ink.
-- Keep letter personal, warm and exciting.
Short sentences, no more than 17 words. Short
paragraphs no more than five sentences. Avoid
like the plague long, boring, stilted language.
-- Complicated, confusing offer
-- No benefits
-- Ugly, boring order form
-- Keep it as simple and easy to complete as
-- Make it a pretty as possible.
-- Use a stock certificate border.
-- Include photo(s) of product.
-- Include two to three benefits of your product.
-- Never use words "order" or "form." Instead,
use one of these headings:
Free Examination Certificate
30-Day Free Trial Request
Fully Guaranteed Products
Your products will be shipped to you within 24
-- Include phone, fax, e-mail and mail ordering
-- Repeat biggest benefit of your products in
-- Prepare copy in the voice of the customer.
-- If not using a separate order form, place
order form next to last page on the right-hand
Important marketing and copy tips throughout
-- Test all headlines and copy in solo offers via
direct mail and space ads before inclusion in the
catalog. Use the best copy from your "controls."
This is crucially important. Many of my clients
had previously prepared catalog using untested
copy. When they changed procedures based on
my urging, their sales skyrocketed as much as
-- Never send a catalog to a prospective customer
who has never bought from you before. A catalog
is a great way to develop "back-end" sales. But
send catalog only to people on your database who
know you, trust you and love you.
The best way to sell new customers is via solo
offers. Catalogs offering more than one product
tend to confuse people who have never done
business with you.
-- Sequence of products within the catalog is
crucial. Position your hottest products on right-
hand pages. Start with biggest sellers, beginning
with page 3.
Use your contact information at the bottom of
every other page.
-- Include one to three customer testimonials on
every page beginning on page 3. Include full
name, city or town and photo whenever possible.
-- Make sure all copy is in the same voice.
-- Use larger photos of people and smaller photos
of your product.
-- Use attractive free gifts with a fixed cutoff
date, e.g. 60 days from receipt of catalog, as
a great way to induce rapid sales decisions.
-- Use "discount certificates," which give the
customer a great inducement to buy now. These
should also have a cutoff date, e.g. 60 days from
-- The catalog can be mailed by itself or you can
insert very effectively in outgoing shipments.
It's amazing what can happen when you follow
the foregoing business model. Here are just a
couple of examples from my clients.
The largest personal development marketer in
America at first didn't quite believe the power
of my recommendations. At my urging they
prepared one catalog the old way and one my
way. The difference in results more than double
astonished them. Now they have a seven-figure
catalog business using the steps I've outlined.
Another client sold only by direct mail. They
didn't believe in catalogs. After three years of
my urging they finally produced one catalog.
They now are doing over $20,000,000 on their
highly profitable catalog sales program.
The beauty of direct marketing using the above
techniques has two other "hidden" benefits:
1. Your catalog is kept by many prospects for a
longer period of time than, for example, sales
letters. Thus, the sales cycle is much longer.
2. You avoid the tough task of getting someone
to open an envelope. Almost everyone will at
least open the catalog and look inside.
Use the above catalog tips without deviation.
I know you will earn greater profits and become
a far more successful marketer.