Catalogs, like all other direct-mail marketing materials, must stand out from the competition to get noticed and ultimately land sales. Most catalogs are loaded with sales pitches, deals, discounts, coupons, incentives and other offers on each and every page, but all that great copy and design on the catalog's interior is wasted unless the catalog cover gets customers to open it up.
Here are a few tips for using creating copy and design to get your catalog noticed, opened, browsed and ordered from:
Place products on the cover
Many catalogs try to be artistic and show a nice fall, winter or summer scene on the covers of their catalogs. Unfortunately, this practice means that you're passing up your first opportunity to prove to the reader that you have what they're looking for. If given the choice, opt for several product sales/deals blocks over a seasonal scene every time - you can always be artistic in the banner area. If you must have a scene, make sure you include products in the scene (an umbrella on a beach, for instance), short product descriptions, deals and the page they can be found on. One train of thought dictates that readers should have to search to find products so that they'll see what else you offer, yet another opines that the easier it is for your customers to find what they want, the more likely they'll purchase from you.
If you offer a wide variety of products, place your featured products on the cover together with a good representation of your other products to attract the broadest customer base.
Showcase your deals
The catalog cover is the first place customers should learn about your deals and special offers. Do they get a free guitar tuner with the purchase of a guitar? Tell them on the cover - and tell them how valuable the offer is. There's no reason to be a literary genius here. Simply put your deals in terms they can understand: "Buy any guitar TODAY and get a FREE electronic pedal tuner! ($49 value)."
Use big images and a simple layout
Just because you show products on your catalog cover doesn't mean you need to squeeze 40 of them on an 8.5-inch by 11-inch page. Ten to 12 will suffice, and it should still allow enough room for you to make the images and text large enough to be seen across a waiting room (if one person puts the catalog down, another should want to pick it up). Make sure your layout is clean and incorporates plenty of white space. Your great copy shouldn't be mashed together, which will make it easier for customers to get a good sample of what's inside the catalog.
Include a call to action
There's no reason to wait until your customers get inside the catalog or to the order form to hit them with a call to action. Time-limited promotions are a great way to do this: "20 percent off all T-shirts until Labor Day" and "Order now for FREE Shipping (exp. July 21)" are good examples of this.
As you can see, if you want your catalog to attract attention you must optimize your catalog's cover with vivid images, exceptional copy, exclusive offers and a compelling call to action - just like any other promo. Meld these into one cohesive and powerful design, follow through with the interior pages and your next catalog mailer is sure to be a success!