Are product catalogs out of date? Some marketers would argue that they are. They would suggest that the only catalog you should be using is an online catalog. US Postal Services prices for mailing catalogs are higher than ever, they say, while an online catalog remains low-cost and infinitely scalable. However, there are still good reasons to use a printed catalog. Here are five of them.
1. Your target audience is more likely to purchase from a printed catalog.
While it’s true that nearly everyone is online these days, even your granny, not everyone is comfortable yet with making many of their purchases online. Different businesses target different demographics; you should consider your “perfect customer” and research their shopping habits. You might find that some audiences – particularly senior citizens and the elderly – are still more likely to make purchases through mail-order print catalogs than through online catalogs.
2. You print a small quantity of catalogs just for visitors to your store.
While color catalog printing on a mass scale for mail-out purposes can be extraordinarily expensive, this is certainly not the only use for a printed catalog. Another way to use a product catalog is to print a small run and keep them on-hand for customers who come in for more information to your retail store. This will minimize your expenses while still providing professional, high-quality catalogs for customers who would like them.
3. You print thinner catalogs for mail-out at critical times of the year.
The days of sending out large catalogs on a monthly or quarterly basis are numbered for most businesses. However, every business has a special time of the year when a mail-out catalog can boost profits. For certain retailers, it might be the holiday season. For others, it might be the start of the school year. A smaller catalog highlighting only season-specific items is an excellent way to capitalize upon seasonal business opportunities.
4. Your catalogs are designed specifically for one-time events.
Trade shows and other one-time events are a great time to print a product catalog to attract prospective clients. For this type of catalog, highlight the products that will most appeal to the trade show audience, then direct them back to your online product catalog where they can see additional options and products. A full-color catalog that you can place in someone’s hand as they walk by your trade show booth is an effective use of your offset printing marketing dollars.
5. You’re using catalogs as part of your sales kit.
When you send your sales force out into the field to meet with potential clients, they need to have more to offer at sales meetings than a website address. Putting full-color catalogs into the hands of your sales force is a great use of a printed catalog. During the meeting, the sales person can flip through the catalog to show the prospective customer exactly which products would be best for his or her situations. After the meeting, the customer still has the catalog in-hand to browse through as he or she makes a purchasing decision.
Remember, just because online catalogs are all the buzz in the marketing world doesn’t mean that you should rely exclusively upon your online catalog. Catalogs are still relevant to your business if you learn how to use them in an effective, meaningful way. The right catalog can still make the difference in closing a deal.