Portland, ME–Ever thought about repurposing last year’s photography in a time crunch, or reducing your catalog’s paper quality to cut costs? If so, your catalog may be in big trouble, according to Lois Boyle, president of consultancy J. Schmid & Associates.
During her session titled “Re-energizing Your Brand” during the New England Mail Order Association conference held here Sept. 19-21, Boyle reminded the audience that customers are bombarded with more than 4,000 messages a day. Your catalog isn’t always top of mind—or top of the heap in the mailbox–so it needs to work that much harder to be distinctive in the clutter.
To create catalogs that really stand out from the pack, merchants need to take start thinking about their brand. “Nurturing a brand is not a one-time thing,” Boyle said. “Great brands never sit still.” And to solidify your brand, you need to think about the feeling your brand gives the customer rather than just the benefits your products provide. You have to understand what Boyle refers to as “your higher order benefit.”
For example, one of her suggestions was to create magic moments with the customer. Boyle recalled a recent experience in a restaurant where she took some clients to dinner. One of her guests was raving about wine they were drinking. The waiter overheard the comments and at then end of the night brought over a card with the restaurant information–to which he had affixed the wine bottle’s label.
Catalogers can create magic moments in a few ways, but Boyle mentioned the order package. As soon as they received the box, customers are experiencing your brand so make it a good one. Consider your packaging, giftwrap, box inserts—all are going to make an impression.
You can also boost your brand by providing relevant content, Boyle said.
For example, a kitchenware or foods cataloger might offer recipes, or you might provide how-to solutions that fit with your product line. “Become a resource to your customers and you’ll be rewarded.” And think of customers as co-creators, she said: “Let them become part of the brand.”
If you want to make sure your brand resonates with customers, you need to bolster the customer experience. “The rules of the catalog game are not enough anymore,” Boyle said. “ You need to research, focus, and be willing to take risks.”