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Integrated Marketing Tip #12 - Creating Effective Direct Mail Catalogs

Sep 11, 2011

In the “olden days” (as one of our interns referred to all the years that came before the 2000s) retailers marketed their wares in-store and through catalogs.  There was no such thing as ecommerce.  No Internet.  No Amazon or eBay. 

But even today when catalogs are a far less common way of selling products and services, direct mail print catalogs can be incredibly effective (indeed, perhaps because they’re so much less common).  Whether you use a short booklet simply to highlight the most popular products you have for sale or mail a full-fledged mail-order catalog, there are 6 key best practices that will drive your success…

#1: Judge a catalog by its cover. Your catalog cover is your single most important page. It’s what customers see first and what determines whether they’ll open up the catalog to see what’s inside. Large images and full bleed pages with catchy headlines that showcase your current specials will grab your reader’s attention. Whether you’re focusing on one product or a suite of products across multiple categories, your cover should list benefits to entice customers to learn more.

#2: Consistency counts.
No matter what colors and graphic elements you incorporate into your catalog design, your catalog layout should be consistent across all pages and across all issues. When your catalog arrives in the mail, you want your customers to instantly recognize who it is from. A consistent layout offers functional benefits as well, making finding important information and flipping to favorite categories easier for your customers – so the purchasing process is smoother.

#3: Go full color and oversized.
Full-color direct mail catalogs always perform better than two-color or black-and-white versions. They’re more visually appealing and product details stand out better. Customers like to know what they’re getting before they order, and full-color catalog layouts help them do that. Not to mention that full-color catalogs reflect professionalism and reliability for your company.

#4: Remember the goal. Direct mail catalogs are made to sell, and while providing information is part of the process, you don’t want to dilute your pitch with information overload. Sure, tips, testimonials and customer success stories can reinforce your sales pitch (and should be peppered throughout the pages of your catalog), but full magazine-style articles rarely result in improved return on investment. Stick to your sales goals.

#5: Using variations of direct mail catalogs. If your current catalog sells many products to many audiences, consider producing a mini-catalog that sells just one line of products (mobile phones, for example) or that sells multiple products to just one audience (mobile phones, laptops and desktops to small businesses, for example). This allows marketers to segment their list and create personalized and specific direct mail pieces that will ultimately be more valuable to the customer and increase catalog sales.

#6: Keep it fresh.
You don’t want consumers thinking that your latest catalog is the same as the old one they already have. Change your cover graphics with each new catalog, and display a prominent headline that says “25 new products” or “10 bonus pages” or something that communicates “this is new.”

Whether you’re using a direct mail catalog as a true sales channel or to highlight the products and services you offer, these tips will get you on your way to success.  And remember, Click2Mail is here to help. Call 1-866-665-2787, visit, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

We’ve combined this and the other 12 integrated marketing tips into a whitepaper to help you make the most of direct mail in combination with the other types of marketing you do.  For your free copy, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).