The Paper Catalog
Though we live in an electronic age, print is still very much alive, and big, successful companies like Crate & Barrel and Neiman Marcus are still producing print catalogs. They believe that in a time of information overload, the print category may snag a customer’s attention in a way that an online presence might not, as well as do a better job of telling the “story” of a brand.
If you use a paper catalog, you’ll want to maximize its impact by putting it in the hands of as many potential customers or patients as possible. The traditional, tried-and-true method is via direct mail, but you can also put some in the box whenever you ship an order, leave some behind at the end of a sales visit, or hand them out at professional networking events or at any other occasion that seems appropriate.
The Online Catalog
Even if your business produces paper catalogs, you’ll almost certainly want an online catalog too, to reach additional customers and take advantage of ease of distribution and the ability to provide frequent updates. You can readily showcase new offerings and use dynamic pricing.
Customers typically find an online catalog by using Google or some other search engine, going straight to a business’s website, finding the catalog through a marketplace like eBay or Amazon, or thanks to a product mention on social media. However they come to the catalog, it’s important that the process of using it be as easy as possible.
That means customers can find, view, and compare possibilities and make a final selection fast, with a minimum of jumping back and forth. To that end, the search capabilities should be honed in order to quickly match the right product or service to the appropriate customer.
Similarly, the website, like the catalog, should have logical, intuitively obvious product categories and navigational hierarchies. Customers should be able to obtain as much product information as possible on the search results page. They shouldn’t have to open the product detail page only to find out that a particular item isn’t at all what they had in mind. Product pages should contain all the information a customer would want. Customers shouldn’t have to consult someone else’s site (like the manufacturer’s, if that’s not who you are) for more. Important information should be clearly presented upfront. The customer shouldn’t have to waste time scrolling and closely scrutinizing the product page to find it.
To accomplish all that, the catalog needs clear, complete product titles. These should enable a potential customer to find exactly what he’s looking for on the first try. The catalog also needs large, clear, high-resolution pictures and detailed yet easy-to-understand product descriptions to show customers exactly what they would be buying. Naturally, a product description should always include the price, a key piece of information for any potential customer.
If your resources allow for it, videos are a highly effective marketing tool. In addition to putting them in your online catalog, you can place them elsewhere on your website and link to them via social channels.
Finally, businesses should take advantage of all the potential of the Internet to distribute catalogs as widely as possible. They can embed catalogs on their websites, share them on social channels, and build subscriber lists and send them out with newsletters. You can build a subscriber list for a newsletter by having a sign-up option of your website where interested parties provide their email addresses. Just be sure to give them an unsubscribe link in the newsletter itself. Not only are these good Internet manners, but it will also prevent the newsletter from being tagged as spam.
Wow, That All Sounds Like a Lot!
It sounds like a lot to consider because it is, but fortunately, you don’t have to create the catalog yourself. To obtain the best results and maximize sales, it’s an excellent idea to hire a professional designer. Look at the designer’s portfolio to determine if you like his or her style. It’s a plus if the designer has designed catalogs or comparable work before. Once you pick a designer, show the pro some catalog designs you like and explain why you like them. This will help the designer create something that fits your needs and expectations.
We at Streng Agency would be happy to discuss your catalog needs with you. We can provide a hassle-free way to enhance your presence in the marketplace and increase your revenue.