Live from ACCM: Get Your Catalog Covered

May 20, 2008 9:01 PM  By

Orlando, FL–Just how important is the cover art to the success of a catalog drop? It could very well determine if a customer even opens it, according to a speaker at the Annual Conference for Catalogs and Multichannel Merchants (ACCM).

Speaking Monday at a session called Strategy-Driven Photography in a Multichannel World at ACCM, Jean Giesmann, former senior vice president of creative for BlueSky Brands, said covers need to follow a separate process from the rest of your catalog art.

Part of the reason in simple: Giesmann says the right art has the potential to lift response rates an additional 10%. And in one case, she said she’s seen response rates jump by 30%.

“But good art will lift your response rate by at least 10%,” Giesmann said. “It’s worth your time to develop [a cover art strategy] separately, so don’t short-change the time and attention to its development.”

So how do you know what’s good art and not just a pretty picture? Giesmann said it starts with a one-hour meeting with the brand team to discuss and identify cover candidates. From there, it’s one to two days in the studio just shooting the cover, and then a careful review of the shots with the brand team.

Your first cover candidates are the best-selling items – and best new performers – from the previous year, Giesmann said. Then you would look at items that have yet to be introduced, since many manufacturers will come up with a new product based on something that was successful in the past.

But also take note of what’s been on past poor-performing covers, in case there is a trend that can tell the photography team something new about what’s not working in your cover treatments.

“It’s about mood and impact,” Giesmann said about successful cover art. “It’s about stopping the customer and making him want to open your catalog up.”

Giesmann advised taking at least six to 10 shots for the cover, and none will go to waste. If you’re a catalog that drops in the hundreds of thousands per issue, alternate covers can be used. And a photo that doesn’t win the cover spot can also be used on your Website or for e-mail marketing purposes.

The ACCM, held here May 19-21, is cosponsored by Multichannel Merchant and the Direct Marketing Association.