Designing a more worldly Bearcom

To emphasize that its wireless communications products enable customers to communicate around the globe, $145 million Bearcom Wireless Worldwide overhauled its catalog design. Beginning last fall, the Dallas-based cataloger/distributor focused on giving the book a “more worldly” look, as well as on making it easier to shop from, says director of marketing Susan Hensley.

The company, which sells the majority of its merchandise via magazine space ads and field sales, does not yet have a customer-tracking system to indicate the success of the redesign. Nevertheless, Hensley believes the results “have been great,” citing extensive positive feedback from new and existing customers.

Older Bearcom books “had boring covers, looked out of date, and used old clip art,” Hensley says. So in its fall 1998 book, the company added more color and photography. It ran a “high-tech and very colorful cover” showing cell phones and radios, says graphic designer Larry Roberts. But the company felt that the cover was still too dark. So for the next catalog, which maile d in June, “we decided to go with some antique maps on the cover with phones and radios on top of them, to show our worldwide reach,” Roberts says.

Inside, Bearcom broke the book into product sections: Motorola portable radios, Motorola mobile radios, Maxon portable radios, Tekk portable radios, ICOM radios, headsets, and CCTV surveillance systems. Each category is color-coded to a table of contents – another redesign innovation – to give readers easier, quicker reference, Hensley says.

Keeping costs down

To help keep costs down, Bearcom used the Comstock CD-ROM Image Portfolio for most of the photos in the June book rather than a studio photographer. “We were able to get old map files and antique-looking maps for the cover shot” on a disk, Hensley says. “And instead of paying thousands of dollars for a photographer, we bought the CD for $250.”

Bearcom, which mails 5.5 million catalogs a year, saved an additional $8,000-$10,000 by “bidding hard with suppliers,” Hensley says. “It’s something we do all the time, and a lot of people don’t realize you can push vendors as hard as we do. And we’re able to save $5,000-$10,000 every time this way.”

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