Does your catalog need a check-up? Susan J. McIntyre (aka “The Catalog Doctor”) has some common sense advice for standing out in a competitive field.
“Learn from your competitors to keep ahead” is her first piece of advice. McIntyre recommends looking at what your competition is doing right, and integrating those ideas into your own publication. Also look at catalogs outside your field to get ideas that may be appropriate to your own industry.
But, she warns, “if you want to maximize sales, it’s best to steer clear of copying.” Take those good ideas and make them your own by focusing on your strengths as a company.
Your competition is also a great place to learn what to avoid, McIntyre counsels. For example, if your competition has readability issues, work with your designers to avoid those pitfalls.
Your design team is a critical element in helping you connect with your readers. By understanding your audience and what’s expected in that niche, your designers can create a look that resonates.
At the same time, avoid looking so much like others in your niche that you all look the same. Use your catalog as a showpiece for your brand and your story, and make all of your design and content choices strengthen those elements that are uniquely “you.”
Remember Mr. Peterman of Seinfeld fame? While the sitcom parodied the actual company, the exotic and suggestive product stories in the J. Peterman catalog create a fantastic example of a company that knows its brand message and how to share it.
To truly make your catalog stand out from the crowd, combine great design with smart merchandising and an irresistible story line. It’s a healthy prescription for catalog health.