How to Create an Effective Catalog Marketing Strategy

Person looking at a catalog

Last updated on February 21st, 2022 at 03:00 pm

Contrary to popular opinion, catalog direct marketing remains a powerful tool for engaging customers, building your brand, and growing sales. According to a presentation by the U.S. Postal Service at the National Catalog Forum, catalogs have more influence on purchase decisions than television ads. In addition, 72% of people surveyed said that catalogs make them more interested in the retailer’s products.

Catalog advertising is a sales technique that groups many items together in a printed piece with the goal of generating direct sales. The catalogs are mailed to a targeted audience or given away in the store. Using information from the direct marketing catalog, consumers buy directly from the retailer by phone, mail, or online.

Who does catalog marketing?

Any retail business that uses mail-order sales is a good candidate for a catalog marketing strategy. Business-to-business (B2B) companies can also make good use of this marketing technique.

B2B catalogs are most effective for businesses that:

  • Make many different products (i.e. auto parts)
  • Have long or complex buying cycles
  • Have customers who prefer to self-educate about their products or services
  • Don’t want to put their entire catalog inventory online
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Benefits of catalog marketing

For retailers, the primary benefits of a catalog marketing strategy include:

  • Good response rates
  • Ability to target specific audiences
  • Easy to track results
  • Increased brand visibility and awareness
  • Cost-effective marketing tool

For B2B companies, catalog marketing:

  • Makes a good prospecting tool
  • Increases cross-selling opportunities
  • Provides in-depth information about complex products
  • Builds brand awareness
  • Drives sales

Creating a winning catalog marketing strategy

Here are four basic steps and strategies for launching a successful catalog marketing campaign.

1. Set clear goals.

Different types of catalogs can achieve different goals. Are you looking to raise brand awareness? Introduce a new product line? Increase direct sales? Expand your demographic reach? Knowing and planning what you want to accomplish will guide the other catalog marketing strategy elements.

2. Determine your marketing catalog type.

Your goals will play a key role in selecting the right type for your needs. Different catalog types include:

  • Full-line catalog marketing. This is what most people visualize when they think “catalog.” These typically list every product, service and configuration a business offers, and readers usually purchase by mail.
  • Informational. The main goal is to educate customers or employees on a specific topic. Examples include training manuals for employees and company-focused catalogs that inform customers about what’s going on with your business, what new products to look for, and more. Informational catalogs also help raise brand awareness.
  • Promotional. These catalogs typically feature a specialized selection of items. The goal can be increasing sales, letting customers know about a new product line, or advertising a sale or special offer.
  • Services listing. Service companies use this type of catalog to motivate readers to call, email, or visit a website to schedule an appointment or ask for a quote.
  • Category or topic-focused. These catalogs usually focus on a specific segment of your business or a certain product line. They are often individually branded to reflect the division they represent rather than the company as a whole.

3. Create great catalog marketing content.

To create focused, meaningful content, consider the following:

  • Your product(s). What are you selling? How does it solve a problem for the customer or improve their lives? Why should people buy your product instead of a competitor’s?
  • Your customers. Analyze consumer data. Why do people buy your product or services? What are they saying about it? What is the most important factor in their buying decision?
  • Your competition. Study their marketing collateral to see what they are saying and how they say it. Then figure out how to make yours different.

By answering these questions, you can gain a greater understanding of your target audience and their buying behavior, including what motivates them to choose your products and services over others in the market space.

4. Make it easy to measure results.

Digital marketing is known for its ability to track results quickly and easily. Catalog marketing can do the same if you set it up right. First, know who is receiving your catalog. Then make sure it includes ways to identify where the lead or sale came from. Three of the best techniques include:

  • QR Codes. Customers scan the code with their smartphones and receive a personalized code or URL which is unique to the catalog product listing.
  • Personalized landing pages (PURLs). These enable you to put special identifiers on visitors to your site that will identify the catalog as the source of their visit.
  • Response codes.  Catalog readers type in unique bits of text and/or numbers when completing a sale so their purchase can be attributed to the referring catalog.

Now you’re ready to work on the design and content of your marketing catalog. Visit our learning center for more catalog marketing examples and tips on how to make your marketing catalog a success.


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