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  • AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #405: The Case for Catalogs

Sure, they’re more expensive than other forms of direct mail, but are they worth it? See 5 reasons why the answer is YES.

Catalogs once held a strong and steady place in direct mail marketing. However, a major postage rate increase and the recession of 2007 caused marketers to reconsider the catalog’s place in their lineup. In fact, the American Catalog Mailers Association reports that catalog numbers dropped from about 19 billion in 2006 to about 11.5 billion in 2018.

Although today’s volume probably isn’t anywhere close to 2006’s, catalogs still have a strong and rightful presence in consumers’ mailboxes.

If you haven’t produced and distributed a catalog in a while, or if you’ve been questioning if you should continue your catalog program, here are 5 reasons catalogs belong on your direct mail lineup:

  • Digital marketing can’t do it alone. Even successful online retailers like and have taken to printed catalogs to expand product and brand awareness.

  • Catalogs drive buyers to websites. In fact, last May, Arthur Zuckerman reported for CompareCamp, an online resource for product reviews and comparison, that 60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the brand that mailed them. Printivity—an online resource for business owners looking to learn more about print, design, and growing their businesses—claims even better news: more than 8 out of 10 catalog recipients say they purchased an item after seeing it in a catalog.

  • Consumers like having the option to peruse materials on their own time, not when an email is forced on them.

  • Catalogs build relationships. Tim Curtis, president of CohereOne, a direct marketing agency in California, says that the “tactile feel of catalogs creates a more meaningful connection” between consumer and seller.

  • Catalogs make identifying what a company does and evaluating a company’s offers easier than websites, which requires clicking, scrolling, and navigating.

Make the most of your exposure and your budget by targeting your catalog to different segments of your list or market. Highlight your best or most popular products or services, and fill out the catalog with offers geared toward those specific buyers.

Then, entice your readers! Your catalog is the place to tell your products’ stories and to provide as much detail as possible about your products or services. Professional photos, including those showing your product “at work” or the results of your service, will help your prospects better understand how they’ll benefit.

While you’re designing and filling out your catalog, don’t forget to save room for additional content that helps your readers connect with your company and understand your brand’s personality. The United States Postal Service suggests including stories about how a product is used or was created, educational content, and customer or employee profiles.

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