Catalog printing is alive and well today
Catalog printing still pulls its weight
With all the new technologically driven ways to market your products or services, it is easy to think that print catalogs are D.O.A., dead on arrival. Well, catalogs are far from dead. In fact, they are making a comeback. And a big one at that.
Catalogs mailed directly to homes and businesses have long been an effective way of selling products. Few people today remember the Sears and Roebuck catalog, but it was the mainstay of most homes back in its day. It showcased basically everything you could find in a big box department store of today, all in a hefty, hernia-producing catalog.
When folks received it and later generations of catalogs they could immediately go on a shopping spree. Page after page, department after department (clothing, housewares, outdoor furniture, tools and more) enabled consumers to shop for most anything they needed. Who needed a big store, when they had a big catalog?
In time, catalog printing evolved
Instead of one big hulking bound book of everything, people received catalogs from specialty retailers such as L.L. Bean, Lands End, Pottery Barn, etc. They were large, but not ridiculously so. Things were rolling along for the tried and true catalog. That is, until the Internet came roaring into town. It disrupted everything that had to do with marketing and selling. Catalogs were no exception. Catalogs got a bad rap. Why spend all that money to create, print and mail catalogs when you could put everything you want online? It was easier and cheaper.
The days of thinking of catalogs as sales generators that made it feasible to print two, three, or more of them per year were over. But not for long. Yes, the Internet did change many rules of marketing, but retailers are coming back around to the notion that catalogs serve a very real and valuable purpose.
A big reason for this about face in thinking is that many major brands that cut back on catalogs experienced drops in sales. After researching the reduction in business, they determined that fewer catalogs meant fewer sales. They also deduced that catalog printing could still be an important part of the buying process. But to be effective, catalogs needed to be included in a business’ omni-channel marketing effort. Omni-channel marketing is when a company provides a seamless customer experience, regardless of channel or device. Whether we like it not, consumers now are engaging with companies in multiple ways – in a physical store, on an online website or mobile app, through social media, or through a catalog. I may have put catalogs last, but they are far from least.
To ensure that catalogs have their rightful place in omni-channel marketing, businesses are using them to target specific groups based on buying habits. Gone are the days of the behemoth catalog. Today’s printed catalogs are slimmed-down versions with varying page counts that are sent out to niche groups. This not only zeros in on the right audience to sell to, but it also results in reduced printing costs.
Catalogs also help to create a special, tactile bond with consumers with special photography, illustrations and printing techniques. Catalogs have longer shelf lives than messages displayed on a smart phone or tablet. And people like reaching for them and buying from them. Catalogs can also be an effective way to direct consumers to Internet deals or final purchases. More important, study after study has shown that the most loyal customers utilize multiple sales channels, which include catalogs, before buying products or services.
So before you chuck the idea of printing and mailing out catalogs, consider the many pluses of this age-old marketing method. New technologies in printing produce better image quality, make printing more cost efficient, are great for short-run print campaigns, and allow for full-scale personalization on high-volume campaigns, with quick project turnaround time. All of which ensures that catalogs remain alive and well.