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.