Meet the 2011 Multichannel Merchant of the Year: Filson

How do you get to be Catalog of the Year? You have to nail every aspect of catalog marketing, from an enticing cover, compelling creative, captivating and salesworthy copy, to a solid marketing strategy and superior service. And Filson’s 108-page August 2010 edition does it all.

WHY IT WON CATALOG OF THE YEAR: For starters, “the front cover is simple but attractive,” said one judge. The sampling of merchandise, from flannel-lined pants to wool luggage to raincoats for dogs, includes new products and illustrates the range.

And the range of this line of rugged apparel and accessories is impressive. The catalog promises that each product is “the best of its kind,” and the elegant presentation consistently reinforces that notion.

“There are some exceptional spreads in this catalog,” noted one of the panelists.

But the copy is perhaps the best part of this catalog. “There is a lot of important, valuable information,” said a judge, such as a sidebar detailing Filson’s 8.5-oz. oil-finish shelter cloth.

“Copy is compelling and easy to read and showcases key benefits,” said another panelist. “The nice use of testimonials makes the catalog friendly and seem like a community.”

The added information “establishes Filson as a trusted authority and appeals to an audience looking for long lasting quality.” What’s more, a judge said, “call-outs are used very effectively to highlight and sell product features.”

The headline to one sidebar, for instance, boasts: “Our duffle bag will carry a 1968 1500cc Single Port Volkswagen engine. Will yours?”

This catalog, summed up one judge, “is extremely successful at establishing Filson as a long-standing authority in quality products.”

WHY IT’S THE MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT OF THE YEAR: Filson not only earned a Gold Award in the Catalog Channel category Apparel, Sales Under $20 Million category, it took the Gold in the same category on the ecommerce side. So what’s so great about Filson’s website?

“The photography, clean layout, readable fonts, logical navigation and clear cohesiveness of all these elements create a home page that entices the visitor to click to see more,” said one panelist.

What’s more, the judge said, “I typically feel that additional boxes below the fold don’t add much to the overall design, but Filson makes great use of this space and, in fact, enhances the overall feel of the home page with these additional product boxes.”

Judges also raved about’s treatment of the product recommendations/customer reviews, with the clear “Pros” and “Cons” and graphing the score on the key product elements. “I love that the site’s Rate & Review feature allows shoppers to rate items on various attributes,” a panelist exclaimed.

It appears that merchandising is Filson’s greatest strength, “knowing their customer and what merchandise to show them,” said a judge. “The Refine Your Search by Activity is fantastic.”

And that’s really what it’s about, whether in print or online: knowing what your customer wants, what to show them and executing it beautifully.

IDEA TO STEAL: A strong, simple guarantee will serve you—and your customers—well. Filson has had the same one for 113 years: “We guarantee every item purchased from us. No more, no less. Your satisfaction is the sole purpose of our transaction.”

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