If you're wondering how to create a catalog that captivates your target audience, achieves your marketing goals, and leaves a lasting impact, then you're in the right place! This comprehensive guide will walk you through seven detailed steps, from defining your marketing objectives to recording and adjusting your catalog strategy. Each step is designed to help you create a catalog that reflects your brand's unique identity, resonates with your audience, and drives them to take action.
Whether you're a seasoned marketer or a business owner looking to explore catalog marketing, this blog will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to make the most out of your catalog marketing strategy.
Step 1: Outline your marketing goals
When developing your catalog's design, images, and messaging or words, it's essential to have a deep understanding of your goals.
Knowing your catalog marketing goals will help you choose the best images, tone, style, wording, order of content, typeface, and calls to action to use within your catalog design. In addition, it will help you determine who your target audience is so you can align your catalog design and strategy around your goals and audiences' needs and interests.
Once you know your marketing goals for publishing your catalog, you need to develop the best way to reach those goals. Are you looking to sell more of a specific product? What services do you offer that you want your target audience to focus on the most? Are you reaching a new audience and want to connect with them with a compelling introduction? Are you mailing your catalogs or handing them out at a trade show or event?
These questions will help you stay on track as you begin writing, designing, and otherwise creating your catalog.
Step 2: Determine your catalog type
Based on the goals you outlined in the previous step, you now need to choose the best type of catalog to meet your goals.
While all printed catalogs consist of pages bound together to deliver a multi-paged marketing message, specific types of catalogs have different purposes and determine the layout and flow of your catalog content. To help you choose the best type of catalog, we've outlined a few below to help you choose the right one for your catalog marketing strategy.
Informational Catalogs: Informational catalogs can be for customers, prospects, stakeholders, or employees, as they are text heavy and primarily intended to educate or provide information on your business or a given topic. For example, if it is intended for employees, this could be a training manual used for internal purposes to strengthen the foundation of your company. For customers, this could be an introduction to your company or a newsletter outlining the details of your company's latest updates. For stakeholders, this could be an annual report highlighting your business's accomplishments over the past year.
Informational catalogs are primarily for teaching, informing, or branding aesthetic purposes. Catalogs like these aren't trying to make hard sales. Their goal is to establish a certain persona for your brand that encourages your audience to choose your brand over a competitor.
Promotional Catalogs: Promotional catalogs, also referred to as promotional product catalogs, are the more common type of catalog we think of when thinking about catalogs. These catalogs feature a selection of items or products offered by your brand.
The goals of a promotional catalog typically include getting your audience to make a purchase, increasing sales, announcing a new product or deal, or highlighting an entire category of products or services your business offers.
Service Listings: Service listing catalogs are specialized for businesses that primarily offer a range of services. For example, common industries that use service listings include hair salons, lawn care companies, home improvement businesses, and health care providers. These catalogs aim to drive readers to call, visit a website or location, or contact you to get a quote or schedule an appointment.
Category or Topic-Focused Catalogs: These catalogs feature a specific division of your business or a particular line of products you offer. These are often individually branded and designed to reflect the division they represent. For example, a tech division of a business could publish a catalog that visually features its technology and the tech support they provide.
Full-Line Catalogs: Full-line catalogs list every individual product or service and configuration a business offers so a reader can quickly reference it to get the pricing of a specific good or service. These catalogs enable the marketer to provide mail-in forms or direct links to an ordering page for readers to place orders online.
Step 3: Do some pre-content creation planning
The design and content writing preparation process may differ for each catalog type. However, certain traits across all catalog types still need to be addressed to ensure a successful catalog.
The most effective catalogs demonstrate knowledge of:
Your Customers and Target Audience
Who's already buying your products or services? What's their demographic, geographic location, age group, income, interests, and more? What are they saying about your offerings, and why do they use and enjoy your company over your competitors? If you can answer these questions, you will understand who your customer base is and who your target audience is. This means you can tailor your messaging, product images, style, and more to them to enhance engagement and better persuade purchasing decisions.
Your Products or Services
If you offer a wide range of products or services, you need to choose the top ones to highlight. These top products or services should be the ones that your customers lean towards and are the most profitable. They should be front and center, with larger images and more details. The idea is to grab your audience's attention and direct it to the most relevant product or service for them. From there, they'll gain more interest in your brand and begin exploring all of your company's offerings.
If your catalog's goal is to inform your audience, determine what it is about your company that your most successful customers gravitate towards. This could be your exceptional customer service team, your ability to analyze challenges and develop solutions, or if you're a nonprofit, it could be your wonderful cause. Whatever it is, make sure to showcase these details with eye-catching images and bold headlines.
It is important to understand what your competitors are doing and how they promote their products or services. When a potential customer is weighing the pros and cons of your offerings versus your competitors, including pricing, product details, what's included with certain services, and even customer testimonials, you need to make sure your content is unique and stands out while also offering incentives and reasons why your brand is better.
Within your catalog, include customer reviews and photos of your products that your audience can relate to and picture themselves in, give detailed yet concise descriptions that paint a clear picture of the benefits of your product or service, and provide reasons why your reader should choose you. Reasons could include a discount or other incentive, a story about your company that creates a deep connection, or case studies showing how your brand is trustworthy and your products and services can positively impact the reader's life.
Step 4: Select a method to measure your marketing results
Before you begin designing the layout or writing the copy of your catalog, you need to figure out how you want to measure the success rate of your catalog marketing campaign.
For example, say a prospect receives your catalog, visits your website, creates an account, and places an order. You need a way to determine that the sale was made because of your catalog mailing. If you can't tell that this sale is directly related to your catalog marketing campaign, then you can't measure the effectiveness of your catalog to determine how to improve your campaign or to see if it's even worth it to mail your audience catalogs.
To help you make a decision on which tracking method you should incorporate, we've included some of the best ones, along with a brief description of each below:
QR Codes: QR codes are an effective way for your audience to quickly and easily access your website or app to learn more or to place an order. By using unique identifiers like personalized codes or URLS unique to the specific printed catalog and inserting them into the QR code, readers can scan the QR code to access your site in seconds. You can then identify the source of that website visit to measure response rates and purchases.
Response Codes or Promo Codes: Response or promo codes often include incentives like discounts or free items. They're unique bits of text and/or numbers that a reader can type into a "promo" section during digital checkout or while ordering over the phone or in person. By providing an incentive that goes along with these codes, your audience is more likely to make a purchase, and you can mark each sale made as a sale made due to your catalog campaign.
Coupons: If the goal of your catalog is to get people to visit your business, you can easily track foot traffic and sales by offering a coupon cutout. By providing your catalog recipients with a coupon, you can measure your success by how many coupons are used upon purchase.
PURLs (Personalized URLs or Landing Pages: PURLs are like QR codes since they're essentially unique links that a customer would use to visit your website, thereby registering as a "conversion" for your marketing metric purposes.
PURLs allow you to place unique identifiers on your visitors through code so they will be easily identifiable as having come from a catalog.
Other Web, Telephone, or Mail Sales Metrics: If your catalog includes a mail-in form to make a purchase, monitor these mail-ins as they determine how many people responded to your catalog. If your catalog directs people to a form to fill out, create a unique form directly related to that specific catalog. The number of people who fill out the form determines the number of people who respond to your catalog. If your goal is to get your audience to give you a call or email you to learn more, use a personalized email address or telephone number so you can measure how many people called or emailed you because of the catalog they received.
Step 5: Begin putting together your catalog content and design
Now that you know what to consider when crafting your catalog messaging and campaign, you're ready to create and design your catalog content. Apply your findings from the previous steps as you write the copy and design the layout of your catalog.
Here are a few catalog design pointers to note for some of the design elements and trends shared by the top-performing catalogs:
Remember Your Target Audience: Ensure your catalog's tone, style, and imagery align with your target audience throughout every page. For example, your images need to reflect your target demographic so that they can relate and connect with your catalog's messaging. Tone and style need to align with your audience's age group or industry. For instance, choose a professional and confident tone and style if your target audience is corporate stakeholders.
Use Relevant, Descriptive Images: The images and graphics you choose need to visually emphasize the products, services, or company message you decided to highlight in Step 1. These visuals need to clearly show what your product or services are and create a story, in a sense, that shows your audience how choosing your company's offerings will benefit them.
Make Your Brand Stand Out: Your logo, company name, brand colors, contact information, and any other essential brand elements need to be visible. This is so that your audience will know who the catalog is from, and it will enhance brand recall.
Reflect On Your Past Catalog Campaigns: If you have taken advantage of catalog marketing in the past, let your decisions with design and catalog formatting or layout be heavily influenced by any findings you gained from your previous catalog mailers or even smaller mailers like your postcards or brochures. Ask yourself what worked best for your brand in the past and what didn't. Then improve upon this to make this catalog campaign even better.
Step 6: Choose a catalog printer that will maximize your savings and provide the highest quality of print
If you plan on mailing your catalogs to a mailing list you have or a new targeted audience, find a printer that provides direct mail marketing services and an in-house mail center. Printers with their own mail center can provide you with a targeted mailing list based on your goals, cleanse your current mailing list, and save you time and money by mailing your catalogs directly from their facility as soon as they are printed.
In addition, choose a printer that provides the highest quality print, competitive pricing, the highest accuracy of mailing, and a customer service team that can help you every step of the way.
If you choose to mail your catalogs yourself, be aware that it could cost you time and money since you'll have to wait for your catalogs to be shipped from your printer to your location before you can begin sorting, addressing, and mailing them.
One of the most important things to check when printing and mailing your catalogs is whether or not your printer or mailing provider is charging more than they need. At Kingston Printing, we never charge you more than what the postage would cost you if you mailed your catalogs yourself, and we promise competitive prices for the highest quality print.
Trusting your gut instinct when it comes to pricing your catalog project is sometimes what it takes to ensure you're getting the best quality at the best price. Does the price seem too low? Your catalogs will probably lack quality, and turnaround times might be months out. Does it seem too high? Your catalogs are probably tacking multiple hidden fees that decrease the overall value.
Step 7: Record your results and adjust
Once you've given your catalog enough time in your prospects' and customers' hands, finalize a collection of your results and performance measurements. Do the necessary calculations to generate your ROI and response rate that can be recorded and referenced against future catalog marketing campaign results.
If you've followed all of the pointers and tips outlined in this blog, you'll most likely have a very high ROI and response rate that indicates you're adding value to your brand by taking advantage of printed catalogs.
Suppose you don't seem to benefit from publishing catalogs, and your catalogs aren't adding value to your brand or marketing voice. In that case, it may be time to consider starting fresh with a different marketing strategy, like postcard marketing.
Either way, use the data you gain throughout your campaign to inform your next marketing campaigns so you're on a constant path toward improvement.
Successful Catalog Marketing Campaigns in 7 Easy Steps
A well-crafted catalog plays a pivotal role in your marketing strategy, strengthing your brand visibility, enhancing customer engagement, and increasing sales. The success of your catalog depends not only on its design and content but also on its alignment with your overall catalog marketing goals, understanding your target audience, and a strong framework for measuring its impact.
If you're ready to embark on your catalog marketing journey or looking to improve your existing catalog strategy, we're here to help. At Kingston Printing, we offer top-notch print quality, competitive pricing, and a dedicated team ready to assist you every step of the way. Head to our custom quote page to get started on your successful catalog marketing strategy today!
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