After Conducting Considerable Research and listening to customer feedback, Fat Brain Toys launched a print catalog. The specialty toy retailer in June began mailing 1 million copies of a 16-page book.

Fat Brain Toys needed to add a marketing component to build recognition, says Mark Carson, who cofounded the company with his wife, Karen, in 2002. As a Web merchant, he says, it became clear that online marketing was almost 100% reactive.

“A customer had a need for a toy, they did a Web search, we showed up as an option, they clicked on us, and we made the sale,” he explains. “But the reality is that there are many millions of households that are still doing their shopping locally or going to the first Website they recognize by name.”

In order to build a truly recognizable brand, Carson says, “we needed a more proactive marketing component. While there are many other proactive forms of marketing, a catalog really fit the bill for us on multiple fronts.”

Fat Brain Toys plans to mail a 48-page catalog in the fall that will reach 1.5 million households. The books will go to a combination of past customers, demographically targeted compiled lists, and response lists from other like-minded catalogs.

Carson says he doesn’t view the print catalogs as “transforming, but rather complementary to the other existing components in the business,” which include an Omaha, NE, retail store that opened in 2008, and a wholesale division. He estimates the catalog has the potential to boost gross revenue by 20% to 30%.

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