Image Club Software Catalog, Nov. ’97

Sep 01, 1998 9:30 PM  By

Our judges don’t rave about Image Club’s software catalog when they first read it from front to back. But they change their tunes when they read it backward. One judge explains, “This front cover is attractive, but it doesn’t feature products. But the back cover builds excitement with the special online offer, and then the inside back cover really sells products.”

Image Club, the winner of not one but two Silver Awards this year, makes “excellent marketing choices!” one panelist declares. Adds another, “Exciting design, everything well positioned with high energy. It’s highly appropriate for its audience of graphic designers.” Image Club’s merchandising shows a keen awareness that new products drive this market, where technology enjoys a brief half-life, and tastes and trends in design change almost daily. The first pages of this Silver Award winner prominently feature new items, software bundles, and packages on CD-ROM.

Image Club lets its merchandise do most of the talking. “It does a great job of showing exactly what it is selling. Even the typefaces sold on pages 49 through 57 are well portrayed,” a judge says. Product descriptions are concise and well written. Also well written are several sections that invite browsers to stop and read. These include “Tips & Tricks” sidebars throughout the book and the “Promote Yourself” page produced in conjunction with HOW, a magazine for graphic design professionals.

Customers can order through Image Club’s Website, but unlike most other catalogs offering this service, Image Club directs buyers to a fully functioning electronic commerce area with a full product line and the ability to electronically deliver software. The risk here comes from this technologically savvy audience abandoning the print catalog for the Website, but the added value of the print catalog’s editorial appears to keep the company’s Internet presence from cannibalizing the catalog’s customer base.

The judges agree that Image Club takes a risk but succeeds in using the traditional catalog to support and strengthen the Web-based one. In fact, the Website enhances Image Club’s customer service by offering e-mail product updates. The company also offers a 30-day, no-risk guarantee on many items and features $100 vouchers for future purchases and more bundled products on its order form.

Overall, Image Club wins the judges’ praise as a direct marketer that shows that “the fundamentals are alive and well.” But that praise depends on judges looking past the nonselling (but pretty) cover.


 

Image Club Software Catalog, Nov. ’97

Sep 01, 1998 9:30 PM  By

It’s not easy to sell artwork in a print catalog; it’s even harder to sell digital clip art, design image software, and Web marketing creative tools via catalog. But it can be done-and done well, as is demonstrated by Silver Award-winning Image Club.

For starters, “the high-tech computer nature of the catalog’s design is fitting to the market,” says one judge. Another panelist cites the “visual separation” of the individual art elements available on each CD-ROM as a winning creative strategy.

Not that Image Club doesn’t have a few design hurdles to overcome. “Designers may like it, but the pages are cluttered and hard to follow in some places,” says one judge, noting that some white space could open up the layouts. Another judge points out that “some of the reverse type on busy backgrounds is hard to read.” A third adds, “I’d like to see the catalog on glossy paper for better photo quality pop.”

Image Club uses a good mix of technical information with copy that sells, and it dedicates a significant amount of catalog space to tips. For instance, the book’s “Tips & Tricks” sections cover such topics as choosing the appropriate type and clip art and creating a consistent corporate identity. “‘Tips & Tricks’ is a terrific marketing technique, showing authority in the industry while selling!” exclaims one judge. Also, another judge says, “the tips sections give the user an idea of the resources needed to create or duplicate” catalog examples by listing the exact typeface, clip art, and other resources used. A third judge suggests that Image Club take the concept a step further by including testimonials that explain how the cataloger and its products helped customers create a printed piece or a Website.

The catalog is well organized into categories from retro clip art to maps to fonts. “Image Club recognizes the constantly changing needs of the graphic artist, and it provides the newest products to suit these needs,” applauds one judge. A thorough merchandise selection features “all the components for building pages-on and off the Web,” comments another panelist. And speaking of the Web, the software cataloger drives customers to its Website (www.imageclub.com) by listing the URL on every spread, alongwith the toll-free number. Other mailers could take a lesson in successfully int egrating a catalog with a Website, a judge says. For certain, teaching is one of the things Image Club does best, and part of the reason this cataloger takes home the Silver Award.