Tagged: catalogs

The Catalog Comeback

Though e-commerce makes up just a fraction of total retail sales, that fraction is steadily and rapidly increasing – online business is booming, we know this. But what you may not know is that printed catalogs are one of the most influential sources for information when making online purchases. Print catalogs are even more influential in driving online sales than some online channels.

Why print?

According to Sarah Knup, head of strategy and marketing at childrenswear brand Tea Collection, “We see the catalog as more relevant as a true storytelling and brand piece… You don’t get the same feeling when you’re flipping through a PDF.” Catalogs are making a comeback, with many retailers increasing their catalog spend. Even online-only retailers are beginning to mail catalogs of their own. The investment is a wise one – research by the US Postal Service shows that online shoppers who receive a catalog piece spend 28% more than those who don’t.

Just take a look at Zappos Life. Though Zappos is an online-based retailer, per-transaction sales from its catalog are twice that of the website.

Zappos Life


There’s Something About Print

There is something about having that large expanse of real estate in your lap, something about the format, that is extremely satisfying… Having many different things you may be interested in on a page, as opposed to a single thing surrounded by ads as it is on the web, leads to the formation of different connections and leads to a different experience.

Cool ToolsThat’s Kevin Kelly of Wired describing just some of the value of his recently printed book Cool Tools. The book was just published in December, but Cool Tools isn’t new – the website has been actively collecting curated reviews of tools for 10 years. Now, Kelly has taken 1,500 reviews from the website and created an over-sized 472-page book that retails for $39.99.

It sounds like a strange idea – and maybe it is – but it worked. The first printing sold out immediately. The reviews are glowing, and as one Amazon reviewer explained: “Yes, you’ve already read (or could read) much of the content on the site, but the book format (and the fact this is a hand-picked subset of the reviews from the blog) adds context and flow… It is a nicely realized, physical thing.”

Image via Joel Arbaje for Fast Company.

Curb the Clutter With Direct Mail

Given the avalanche of marketing messages we’re exposed to on a daily basis, it stands to reason that authentic, engaging messages are more likely to get a response. Most messages go virtually unnoticed, skimmed or purposely ignored – no one’s looking for the needle in the haystack. And why should they?

Marketing Clutter by Tom FishburneRather than expect your customer to notice you amidst the clutter, do something that stands out… easier said than done, I know. But believe it or not, some of the most engaging messages are the simplest.

If you haven’t seen PRINTISBIG.com, take a look:

Print is an effective and important tool you should never forget… While the digital marketing space has gotten noisier and considerably less effective, print has enjoyed a renaissance of increased conversion rates and marketing return on investment. Customers actually appreciate getting a nice postcard, well-designed catalog, or personal thank you note in the mail today.

According to the stats, US advertisers can see a 1300% ROI on direct mail, and direct mail is responsible for an incredible 78% of donations for non-profits. It makes sense if you consider that 80% of households read or browse their direct mail (yes, 80%!). And according to the USPS, shoppers who receive direct mail actually spend more than those who don’t.

Cartoon by Tom Fishburne.

The Tools of the Trade Show

According to a study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the most popular method for sharing product information is via printed brochures and catalogs. Eighty-five percent of exhibitors provide printed materials at exhibitions – and 58% of attendees prefer to receive information that way.

Trade ShowEmail is the most popular post-exhibit follow-up method, followed (again) by printed brochures and catalogs sent after the event, used by 52% of exhibitors and preferred by 34% of attendees.

As CEIR research director Nancy Drapeau described, “print collateral on premises and post-event is still pervasive… A good portion of attendees still want print collateral when they walk the floor.”

Opinions vary somewhat by industry. Printed brochures and catalogues are most popular at medical and health care events, while industrial/heavy machinery and finished business output exhibit attendees are most likely to want printed materials sent to them after the event.

What’s your must-have trade show marketing tool?

Image via SXSW.com.