"Catalog Marketing Successes and Challenges"A few years ago I attended an event of the Florida Direct Marketing Association (FDMA) Luncheon .  The topic ~ Catalog Marketing.  Leslie Linevsky, Co-Founder of Catalogs.com and Bonnie Levengood, Director of Marketing with 1-800-PetMeds were the speakers.

Leslie spoke about the history of catalogs.com, and their business model which is promoting catalogs online. For over a decade, Catalogs.com has been helping shoppers find and order the perfect catalogs for the products they want – all free of charge.

Their Mission Statement: Imagine a world where the only catalogs you received are the ones you requested.  Now imagine one starting place to find and preview the world’s best catalogs and either request the ones you want or shop at their online stores – plus find special savings offers too.

Leslie talked about the challenges, opportunities and pet peeves she has.  Some of the challenges were delivery of catalogs until they partnered with DHL to house and deliver every catalog ordered by their visitors.  And what makes Catalogs.com unique is their ability to capture the order, transmit it to DHL by midnight of the same day at which time DHL process the order the very next day! Their sign up process is also unique in that they pre-qualify prospects because they only get catalogs they request so catalog companies don’t mail thousands and even millions of catalogs to people who only end up tossing them into the round file. Most of the catalogs featured on Catalogs.com also provide great savings specials which are exclusive to shoppers of Catalogs.com.

Leslie also talked about their newest initiative which is OnlineCatalogs.com which allows visitors to peruse the catalogs online and then purchase on the spot. Leslie also spoke about some of her pet peeves in online marketing which included a. requiring a customer to register before being able to order, b) asking for the credit card or payment information before giving the total and c) not showing an item as “out of stock” before the order process – each of these increase abandonment of orders and decrease the confidence of the consumer.

Bonnie shared 1-800 Pet Meds experience implementing the “Worlds largest  1 to 1 personalization campaign” including the pros and cons of going to such lengths in personalizing 3 million individual catalogs.   She talked aobut how they personalized each piece with their customers names, the pet’s name and a photo which they put on the cover of each individual magazine at a cost of roughly 3 times that of traditional catalog marketing campaigns.  While it garnered them lots of publicity and an endearing rep among customers the bottom line is that it was cost prohibitive in terms of ROI.

Here are two recommendations regarding 1 to 1 customization including a) testing the campaign on a smaller basis, b) testing variables of each campaign such as placement of personalization – less personalization – use of photos, etc.

The other issue is the rising cost of printing and postage and forcing many catalogers to go to a smaller (slim jim) size to offset the rising costs.

And finally, get green and lean by:

  1. Implementing the slim jim catalog model and driving more sales to purchase online
  2. Create email marketing campaigns that drive traffic to your online catalog. And make sure your entire catalog of products is available for customers to  peruse and purchase via your website.
  3. When you must print, be environmentally conscientious using green materials and processes to lesson your carbon footprint on the planet.