Direct mail cataloging is an exciting and proven direct marketing channel to grow your business. We’ve created this list from our many catalog customers using their experiences with launching their own catalogs in order to share the basics of how to make a catalog in an effort to help you on your own journey of launching a catalog.
The 10 steps to creating a profitable catalog are:
- Choosing the right products
- Targeting the right mailing lists
- Creating superior graphic design
- Using the best product photography
- Planning printing and roll-out
- Utilizing prepress services
- Printing and mailing, budgeting and planning
- Using geolocation and personalization
- Tracking results
- Refining and repeating
We go into further detail on each of these steps and what you need to know as a business to maximize the investment into a direct mail catalog that becomes a profit center for your bottom line.
Deciding what not to put in your catalog is sometimes more important than what you do put into it, as not all your products will appeal to all your customers. Additionally, you may be targeting a specific demographic with your catalog and the products need to satisfy a found need or want to be effective.
Determining which products to include can be extrapolated from your data metrics with input from key individuals from purchasing, manufacturing, marketing, and senior executives.
A single catalog can cost as much as $2.00-$3.00 for each consumer you reach, so targeting the right audience is important to secure a successful return on investment. There are three main types of lists that can be effective for direct mail catalogs, your existing customers, new customers, or specific geographic locations. Depending on your budget or goals, one or a combination of these lists may be appropriate.
With an average response rate of 3.9%, catalog mailings do have higher conversion rates than standard pieces of direct mail, however, each of these types of lists will provide different cost and revenue opportunities. Your mailing house should be able to provide data modeling to help you decide which of these three types of lists makes the most sense for your catalog.
Targeting Existing Customers
If your catalog is going to target your existing customers (commonly referred to as a “house list”), then you have a starting point mailing list, and you’ll next need to have it “pre-sorted” for postal delivery. Pre-sorting is a necessity, as it will save you money on your mailing costs.
If your printer is also going to be handling the mailing along with the printing they can help you with the pre-sorting of your list, otherwise, the “mail house” you choose can help you with this task.
Targeting New Customers
If your catalog is going to target new customers (commonly referred to as a “prospect list”), then you will need to obtain a list from a list company, list broker, or pick a geographic location to target. If you’re using a list company/broker then you can create your data model with filters such as age, estimated income, marital status, gender, home value/new homeowners, presence of children, ethnicity, hobbies/interests, city, county, state and zip code. If your catalog is targeted to a specific geographic location, then your list company/broker can create a list based on your specific location criteria including city, zip code, or community.
Targeting by Geographic Location
If you’re targeting a very specific geographical location, such as a store location or grand opening, then you can use a service from the United States Post Office called EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), The EDDM Service lets you pick the actual postal carrier routes you want using their graphical mapping tool, to target the exact locations around and in your target area, and they will deliver to “every door” on every route you choose.