Thursday, 12 September 2013


Perfection in a mail order catalog is like can

continually approach it but never quite reach it. In the case of

many catalogs, however, it is not necessary to achieve perfection

or even approach it very closely - in order to make the catalog

vastly more profitable than it is at present. Relatively small

improvements can result in a more-than-proportionate enlargement

of that all-important figure on the bottom line of the financial


Making as many improvements as possible as quickly as possible is

probably the most profitable procedure. But even making each new

catalog a little better than the one which preceded it can

produce substantial increases in sales per catalog and in total

sales over a period of time.

Following are 60 suggestions that should help your catalog do a

better selling job for you if you are not already using these

ideas. Whether you use all of them in connection with your next

catalog or adopt a few at a time in the course of producing

several future catalogs, the ultimate result should be very

noticeable and very gratifying.


1. Look at your present catalog with extremely cold, critical and

unsympathetic eye. Pick out all the faults-large or small-that

you could find if you were no longer the owner of the catalog but

a nitpicking customer who has been disappointed in his or her

last purchase from you and is still sore about it. Such a review

could be very enlightening-even if it should prove slightly

embarrassing-and could make your new catalog much more


2. Put your "letterman" on your team. Review all incoming

correspondence from customers and prospects during the last two

years for comments, suggestions or criticisms that may be helpful

in preparing your new catalog. Screen all future correspondence

of this nature as it arrives and place copies of the useful

letters in a special file to be reviewed before starting your

next catalog.

3. Think of your catalog as a means of helping your prospects

accomplish something they want to accomplish or create an effect

they want to create-and prepare your layouts, copy and

illustrations accordingly.

4. For each major type of product you sell, determine as many

reasons as possible why different groups of prospects or

customers do buy or should buy this product. Arrange your groups

of prospects or customers in their orders of importance. For each

group arrange the reasons for buying in order of their

importance. Then arrange the reasons in their order of importance

to your total group of prospects or customers. Use the most

important reasons as the basis for the copy and illustrations you

use in this catalog.

If there are significant differences in the primary reasons for

purchasing different types of products, make the presentation for

each specific type of product fit the product of using the same

type of presentation for different types of products...

5. If the preceding reasons indicate that different appeals are

needed for different groups of prospects or customers, change the

wrap-around, letter or introductory page of your catalog to

appeal to different groups, and separate your mailings


6. Plan your catalog completely before you start preparing

layouts and copy.. Use all 60 suggestions in this list as your

guide for your planning..

7. Plan to ring your cash register more often by using approaches

in tune with the times.

8. Plan to attract new customers-reactivate dormant customers-and

get bigger and better orders from present customers by adding new

and excitement and extras pleasure to owning or using the types

of products offered in your catalog.. For example, feature

dramatic new items, unusual items, items that are especially

timely, etc... Include unusual facts of interest about specific


9. Plan to add interest to your catalog-and give it a much longer

life--by including helpful information on how to use, operate and

maintain your products...unusual uses, etc.. This is information

that customers can use to advantage and will want to keep for

future reference, Such information also increases customer

confidence in your company which correspondingly increases the

customer's inclination to buy from you.

10.. Determine whether items that were unprofitable or barely

profitable in the present catalog should be promoted more

vigorously in the new catalog or should be dropped and replaced

by new products, Never keep an unprofitable product in your

catalog just because it is one of your favorites. If it doesn't

sell, get rid of it!

11. Give your company a distinctive personality. Promote this

personality in all future catalogs as a means of making your

company not "jut another mail order marketer" but a very special

marketer in the minds of your prospects and customers.


Use Procedure 12 to 19 to make your prospects want your products:

12. Write your copy to tie in with and stimulate the specific

reasons for buying discussed in the preceding section.

13. Wherever possible show your prospects how your merchandise

can accomplish the results desired by the prospects to a greater

degrees than competitive products-and prove it by citing results

of lab tests, field tests, wards received, other special

recognition- and especially testimonials and case history

stories, preferably with photographs. Give the prospect every

possible incentive to buy from you rather than somebody else.

14. Put special emphasis on your products and/or services which

are exclusive or markedly superior to those of your

competitors-and tell your readers WHY your products and/or

services are superior!

15. Take the prospect "behind the scenes" if practical and show

what you do (especially exclusive or improved procedures) to make

your products better than competitive products.

16. Make the most of new items the first time you offer them;

they are only new once.. Give them every opportunity to succeed

saleswise by giving them preferred position and allowing adequate

space for you to do a proper educational and selling job on them

at the time they are introduced.

17. Assure prospects that is easy to use these products...that

instructions are included with each order (if true) and/or are

available in specific books or magazines (preferably obtainable

from you)...and cite case histories to prove how successful other

customers have been in using them.

18. Tell prospect how to start using your merchandise properly

and what other action should be taken-and when-or state that this

information will be included with the shipment.

19. If your products are bought primarily for pleasure or are

considered a luxury or "non-necessity", help the prospect

rationalize the value of the purchase.

Use Procedures 20 to 26 to make it easy as possible for the

prospect to make an accurate selection of the types of

merchandise and the specific items of each type best suited for

his or her purposes:

20. Group all items of the same type in the same section of your


21. Arrange the groups of items in their present or potential

order of importance to you profitwise. Put the most important

group at the front of your catalog and the least important near

the end of your catalog (but not on the last three pages).

22. Within each group , arrange the individual items in

descending order of quality, price, popularity or promotional


Give the most important items the most valuable positions and

extra space for copy and illustrations. Allocate positions and

space to the other items in the order of their importance.

23. If practicable, use the Sears system of offering the same

type of item in three different qualities-- GOOD, BETTER and

BEST- with different price ranges to match the differences in

quality. Usually it is more effective to talk about the BEST

quality first and the GOOD quality last.

24. Use COMMON copy to present features or qualities that are the

same for all or most items of the same type.

25. Use INDIVIDUAL copy to talk about the features or qualities

that make each specific item different from all or most of the

other specific items in the group.

26. In preparing the INDIVIDUAL copy above, use "parallel

construction" to help the prospect make a point-by-point

comparison of the specific items as quickly, easily and

accurately as possible.

Once the prospects have selected the merchandise they wish to

buy, make it as easy as possible for them to order Procedures


27. Be sure your ordering information is easy to understand.

28.. Make your order form easy to use, with adequate space to

write the necessary information.

29. Put in one or more extra order forms to make it easier for

customers to order again..

30. Encourage prospects to order by phone on credit, charge or

c.o.d. sales and encourages them to telephone for further

information they may desire.

31. Offer a 24-hour phone-in service through an arrangement with

a local telephone answering service who can answer your phone

during the hours that your business is nor normally open.. This

is especially convenient for the customer who shops in your

catalog during evening or weekend hours.

Make it as easy as possible for customers to pay for their orders

Procedures 32 and 33

Offer credit card service on orders for a specified amount or

more.. By putting a minimum on credit card orders you will often

increase the original order to at least that minimum amount.

Credit card orders tend to be nearly double the size of cash


33. Make it easy to determine shipping charges so they can be

included in cash-with-order payments.

Use order starters and sales stimulators such as 34 to 42

34. Use a wrap-around letter on the front of your catalog to

stimulate ,ore orders and to do a selling job on the merchandise

in the catalog; also to make special appeals to special groups or

call attention to merchandise in the catalog of special interest

to special groups.

35. Use the wrap-around to offer order starters (loss leaders or

hot items to get prospects in to the catalog).

36. Offer specials at intervals throughout the catalog to entice

readers to start an order. Once they buy even one lonely item

they'll tend to order other items to go with it.

37. Offer logical assortments of mixed or matched seasonal items

to provide extra variety and pleasure at any given period of

time. Make suggestions for these assortments and provide

inducements for prospects to order them.

38. Offer assortments of mixed or matched items designed for use

during different seasons in order to provide variety and pleasure

throughout the year (or most of it) instead of during just one


39. Offer a free guide or plan for using each assortment above

correctly and offer information on how to make the most effective

overall use of the assortments.

40. Offer a gift or discount for orders of certain sizes and use

a stairstep graduated approach to increase the value of these

discounts or gifts as the size of the order increases.

41. Offer a gift-shipping with gift cards.

42. Provide extra services such as "Seeker Service" for items not

listed in the catalog. Through extra service techniques you will

make your customers more dependent on the information you provide

and they will become more dedicated customers.

Stimulate promptness in ordering Procedures 43 and 44

43. Use action incentives to spark early orders, such as premiums

for ordering by a specified date; special offers for a limited

time only; etc. When a time limit is involved, send a reminder

(letter, promotional mailing, second catalog, etc) timed to

arrive two weeks ahead of expiration date (as nearly as you can

time it with current third class mail service).

44. Mention frequently and prominently in your catalog that

anyone who orders merchandise from this catalog will

automatically receive the next catalog free. If you wish, this

offer can be modified to require the purchase of a specified

amount during the life of the catalog or by a specified date.

Other suggestions Procedures 45 to 53

45. Use the back cover of your catalog for special offers; also

the inside front and back covers and the pages facing the inside


46. Use teaser copy and cross-references throughout the catalog

to entice readers (into other sections. This can be especially

effective when related accessory items are sold.

47. Concentrate service information on a Service Page; locate it

on a page conveniently adjacent to the order form; and use

frequent cross-references to this page throughout the catalog to

stimulate extra page traffic.

48. Humanize yourself and your catalog by making it seem like the

catalog came from helpful, friendly people. If your business is

truly a "family business" don't hide that fact.

49. Watch your language! Avoid using technical "industry or

business jargon" in your selling and service copy; keep legal

phraseology to the absolute minimum in your guarantee.

50. Make your entire catalog harmonious in layout and copy style

but not monotonous. Include enough variety to keep the reader

interested instead of becoming bored.

51. Give your catalog a longer life by emphasizing the length of

time that you will be able to ship from it and suggesting that

readers keep the catalog for future reference.

52. Ask for referrals from your satisfied customers; also names

of friends who might like to receive a copy of the catalog.

Consider testing the "cluster concept" that neighbors are very

similar and nail to your customers next door neighbors.

53. Sell subscriptions to your catalog by providing a location on

the catalog for readers to remit 50 cents for a "full years

subscription to your catalog." You can also suggest that they

give a "gift subscription" to a friend very inexpensively (and

thus pay for the catalog you mail to the referral).


54. Use the basic or major catalog to establish the value and

regular price of the merchandise. Use other, smaller catalogs or

solo mailings to promote sales from the major catalog or to

provide special reasons for buying (reduced prices on individual

items or special assortments, closeout, etc).

55. Ask the recipient to pass the catalog along to an interested

friend if the recipient already has a copy or is no longer

interested in this type of merchandise.

56. Re-mail the same catalog to your better customers 3 to 5

weeks after you mail it the first time.

57. Prepare an alternate cover for the catalog and mail the same

catalog to your entire list several weeks later. You'll find it

will do just about as well as the first mailing did.

58. Mail to your BETTER CUSTOMERS monthly, featuring items

carried in the catalog- don't rely solely on the

once-or-twice-a-year catalog.

59. Use your catalog as a package stuffer-enclose one with every

order you ship. Your best prospect is the person who just placed

an order with you and received prompt and safe delivery of the

items ordered.

60. Be prompt in acknowledging orders (with thanks), answering

inquiries, shipping merchandise and making refunds or exchanges

if necessary. Remember the old adage of that great retailer

Marshall Field, "the customer is always right." Less than 2% of

the population will intentionally try to take advantage of you

and the other 98% are well worth cultivating.

...And just as every good mail order catalog has something extra

thrown in for good measure make the customer's our

extra one for good measure!

61. If you receive a change-of-address notice from one of your

customers, immediately mail a copy of your catalog addressed to

"The New Residents at (the former address of the customer)"

because the new residents probably has tastes and interests very

similar to those of your customer-after all, he bought the same

house! To give this mailing added power, you might tip a note

onto the front cover of the book stating that "the Smiths used

our catalog regularly, maybe you'll find it equally useful."

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