Marketing Via Catalogs


Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Every entrepreneur and direct marketer is missing a huge opportunity unless they produce catalogs that generate outstanding revenues and huge profits.

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 device.)

** 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 each paragraph.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 credibility.

Cover (Front)

Common mistakes:

— 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.

Cover (Back)

Common mistake:

— 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 or less.

— Use lower portion for your return address, leaving room for an address label and mail indicia.

Inside Front Cover

Common mistake:

— 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.

Order Form

Common mistakes:

— Complicated, confusing offer

— No benefits

— Ugly, boring order form


— Keep it as simple and easy to complete as possible.

– 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 hours

— Include phone, fax, e-mail and mail ordering options.

— Repeat biggest benefit of your products in opening sentence.

— 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 side.

Important marketing and copy tips throughout the catalog:

— 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 800%!

— 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 receipt.

— 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.

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas