How can this be? Everyone says direct mail is finished.
The stack you see here is just two days’ worth and it’s just catalogs. There’s almost as much classic direct mail and postcards.
Is it the season? Maybe, a bit, but it’s been going on all year. And it’s not as if I don’t shop online. I do and when the merchandise arrives, there’s almost always a printed catalog along with it.
Catalogs cost money, a lot of money. Are these companies insane? I doubt it very much.
As you can see, I tend to let catalogs reach a sort of critical mass before I pay much attention to them. Then I arrange them in piles:
Pile One is my favorites. I’m pretty sure they’ll have something I want to buy for someone.
is catalogs I don’t know really well, or at all, but they look potentially interesting. Pile Three is usually doomed to recycling, most often because I’m not even in the target audience and, at this time of year, neither is anyone I buy gifts for.
This year, one catalog caught my eye
It’s called Solutions. Its tagline reads, “products that make life easier”. Well, I’m all for that, so I opened it and saw these cork people.
Not sure how they make life easier but Emilian (who works with us) thinks they’re “quite quirky these corkers.” Check them out:
My favorite is always Hammacher Schlemmer’s catalog
I just love the covers even though I usually have no idea what the product is. In this case, it looked like a toy Batmobile but it’s not. It’s the real thing, the authentic 1966 (Adam West TV Show) model and it can be yours for a mere
Part of the fun of catalogs is the thousands of products you’d never ever see in a store. And if you’re in the business, it’s a kick reading the great copy. I do wonder why more of these companies don’t make a great offer on the cover. We know that works.
• Jackson & Perkins offers lovely holiday plants and trees in their catalog and I often buy things from them for our clients. Their cover offer this year is “50 Gifts Under $50.” Inside on the Order Form is a list of everyone I bought a J&P gift for last year along with the copy I included on the gift cards. Quick and easy. Great idea!
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store catalog cover has one small box with their offer: 10% OFF your purchase. It’s okay, but not compelling unless you love their items, which I do!
• Spanx Catalog has an offer in tiny print: Free Shipping and Returns. I guess that works for them, because they must get a lot of returns.
So, as I look through the dozens of catalogs I get, I think that:
1. Catalogs are great when they’re targeted correctly. If I haven’t ordered anything in a few years, it might be a good idea to write, even email, asking if I want to stop getting your catalogs.
2. The Cover might be the perfect spot to highlight your Offer which can get people inside browsing your pages and to open it, and encourage them to buy.
3. If a lot of catalogs have the same offer you do, maybe you can work on a new and better offer.
4. Test multiple purchases. If you buy three items from this catalog, you can get [whatever] FREE.
5. Speaking of FREE, I didn’t see it anywhere, but we know that it works. It can be a Free calendar with purchase, a Free gift, Buy One, Get One Free.
6. Test the inside front cover for your one to one letter to your prospects or customers. Over the years, we’ve always seen it lift response.
Let me know about your favorite catalog too, and please write in the Comments section below. Thank you!