successful catalog marketing

Successful Catalog Marketing: Get All the Benefits

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

August 10, 2023

What is involved with successful catalog marketing? Businesses that sell more than a handful of products or services have likely considered utilizing a catalog to efficiently present them to potential buyers. Well-known catalogs of the past, like the oversized publications that companies like Sears Roebuck & Company sent out multiple times per year to a huge number of potential customers, were legendary for both their size and the frequency with which they were received.

These massive missives are not as common today, but businesses are again turning to successful catalog marketing to increase sales, grow brand awareness, and increase their customer base. But beyond their glossy covers and brilliant product photos, successful catalog marketing is a smart choice for businesses for some very attractive reasons.

The Psychology of Successful Catalog Marketing

Successful catalog marketing strategies evoke an emotional response in the customer, propelling them to make a decision or form an opinion about a company, service, or product. And catalogs are the perfect vehicle for businesses to connect with customers on a personal level that will, in turn, kick in the well-documented psychological effects to intensify the effectiveness of the humble catalog.

The “vividness” of a catalog is directly tied to how positively a consumer feels about that business. According to a 2020 study by Harvard Business Review, the more a consumer can see themselves using a product, the more “vivid” the product becomes.

A successful catalog marketing strategy allows a customer to imagine more easily using the product, and this increase in vividness helps to build a strong connection with the customer as well as bring them more joy in the process. It is believed that the increase in endorphins makes customers happier, leading to a positive feeling about the company.

Physical products trigger brain activity that connects to value and worth. Studies have now shown that people regard physical products higher than digital ones, so print successful catalog marketing is ultimately the most valuable option for businesses. And because consumers are more likely to remember the physical piece of marketing, they are also more likely to trust it. As a result, customers build a connection more rapidly with companies who use physical marketing pieces.

Physical marketing products feel more personal than digital ones. Consumers report that 67% feel that direct mail marketing, like successful catalog marketing, feels more personal and as a result, businesses develop a stronger connection with consumers than when they use digital marketing.

Is Investing in a Catalog Worth It?

Dipping into the marketing budget is a big decision for any size business, and choosing to prioritize a print catalog marketing strategy might seem like a losing proposition on the surface when relatively inexpensive digital options are available.

But choosing a catalog marketing strategy is actually proven to lift sales, increase business inquiries and improve customer responsiveness. A Harvard Business Review study found that print catalog marketing resulted in a 49% increase in sales, while email versions only impacted sales by 28%. While both increases are excellent metrics for a business’s sales data, the nearly double sales uptick of print over digital is hard to beat.

In the past decade, direct mail marketing has decreased with the ease and availability of digital marketing products. So not only will a print catalog stand out from the competition, a study by the Data and Marketing Association found that response rates from marketing with catalogs have increased by 170% between 2003 and 2018. This strong growth supports investing in print catalog marketing to drive sales and increase business.

How to Market with a Catalog

Combining print and digital strategies creates an effective, memorable, and interesting marketing campaign, but how can you make your successful catalog marketing the star of your efforts so you can get the most out of it with your customers? Our four key strategies will turn your catalog into a marketing gem that will strengthen your brand and help you connect with customers.

 1. Tell a Story with Successful Catalog Marketing

The focus of a catalog doesn’t have to be to simply present products or services to your customers. Instead, think of a catalog as a platform to connect with your customers and potential customers in the same way that feels personal and real. Just like we do when we are getting to know an acquaintance, providing small anecdotes that reveal who we are, our values, and how we see the world will help build an authentic connection.

The idea of visual storytelling works perfectly with successful catalog marketing because gorgeous photography, inventive layouts, and plenty of room for text are all hallmarks of a well-designed catalog. For example, luxury products often frame their products in a setting that matches their brand’s energy and include small details throughout that give off an expensive vibe to complete the imagery.

Potential customers see the expensive yacht, tropical location, or fancy home they have or wish they have and instantly feel a connection to the products that reflect who they are or who they want to be.

The catalog’s narrative should point consumers toward the brand’s ideal customer so they can “see themselves” on the page. By identifying with the look and feel of the catalog, they are more likely to feel a connection with the brand and products or services and, ultimately, to make a purchase.

Imagery that evokes emotions through gorgeous photography and uncluttered pages with minimal text increases the successful catalog marketing vividness, increasing the likelihood of the catalog’s success. And customers can flip through the pages again and again, reinforcing their emotional connection to the brand.

 2. Create Urgency

By providing readers with time-sensitive offers, businesses can use a sense of urgency to drive sales. No one likes to miss out on a great deal, so taking advantage of the very-real FOMO (“fear of missing out”) that people feel is an excellent strategy to pour into your next successful catalog marketing.

As a marketing tool, a sale is an ideal purpose for sending a catalog to the customer. The front cover of the catalog can highlight the sale as well as give its parameters (“Free Shipping through Labor Day” or “Pre-Holiday Sale”) so customers will immediately feel that urgency. And since statistics show that successful catalog marketing that includes promotions tend to have higher sales as a result, consider including some sort of promotion with every catalog.

 3. Give Readers an Enhanced Experience with Successful Catalog Marketing

Almost like magic, a whiff of a sweet summer flower or the scent of a freshly baked pie can transport us to a time or place. Because our senses are closely tied to our memories and feelings, when we see, hear, touch, or smell, we are much more likely to not only remember an experience but also to enjoy it.

Your successful catalog marketing can provide these sensual experiences in a variety of ways, too, so customers will be more likely to fondly remember your brand’s marketing. One of the easiest ways to do this with a catalog is by using a glossy, smooth finish on the cover. High gloss looks fantastic and highlights beautiful photos, but it also feels smooth and silky to the touch, a perfect subtle enhancement that can make your catalog more memorable.

Another method to enhance your consumer’s experience is to link your successful catalog marketing with digital content. A printed QR code can link to how-to or lifestyle videos so consumers can visualize the product or service in action. They can also link to your website or other meaningful content that will help readers experience the brand in a multi-sensory way.

 4. Build in a Way to Track User Conversions

Being able to evaluate the effectiveness of a marketing strategy helps businesses determine if their efforts are reaching the intended demographic and if their marketing goals are being met. And the results of marketing with catalogs can easily be tracked when they are developed with some hidden-in-plain-sight tools that help businesses learn the data they need.

  • QR codes can link to personalized landing pages to track the success of the catalog’s enhancements.
  • Special discount codes that are only available in a print catalog will help track sales directly related to each specific publication.
  • Offer unique sales discount codes directly to a market segment like customers who haven’t purchased in the past year to track how well the catalog lures back previous customers.
  • Create personalized URLs to track targeted market interactions.

Create a Winning Catalog

A catalog that helps bring awareness to your brand, sells products, and encourages interactions with your target customers is a true marketing gem. But crafting one that works starts with partnering with a trusted printer like Publishing Xpress.

We help businesses of all sizes build their businesses with attractive, unique printed catalogs as part of their strategic marketing campaigns. With beautiful paper and cover material choices to custom sizing options, Publishing Xpress’s printing services are just what your business needs to get started reaping the rewards of marketing with catalogs.

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