Better than the best of breed Have you ever seen a canine obedience trial? Not a dog show, in which the canines are judged solely on how closely their appearance adheres to the physical standard for their particular breed, but a competition in which the dogs are timed as they run through a complex obstacle course. The competitors lose points or are even disqualified for, say, stepping on a particular yellow line or neglecting to lie on a beam for a full five seconds.

Catalog Age’s Annual Catalog Awards resemble an obedience trial in that performance counts. Catalogs can’t win Gold or Silver Awards solely because they feature beautiful photography on lush paper. How well the entrants performed in terms of response and sales, and whether they met or even exceeded their goals, is an important criterion in determining Award winners.

Of course, the judges use other criteria as well. So beauty does count – but only to a degree. Brains and brawn matter, too, in the form of customer service savvy, merchandising muscle, copywriting ingenuity, and overall marketing strength. The winning catalogs exhibit all these traits, and use them synergistically to produce effective, hard-working, revenue-producing marketing vehicles.

In profiling this year’s Gold and Silver Award winners, we aim to clarify which assets distinguished these catalogs from the fray. Perhaps you’ll pick up a suggestion or two to help improve your catalog’s performance – and maybe even win an Annual Catalog Award of your own next year. That’s why we prefer canine obedience competitions over dog shows: Only a purebred can win Best of Breed, even if it’s the dumbest creature ever to wag a tail. But with hard work and discipline, in a contest that measures performance, every dog can have its day.

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