CATALOG COVER CONTROVERSIES: PART 1
First published on MyTotalRetail.com blog January 2015
© 2015 Susan J. McIntyre
When it comes to controlling what should be on a catalog's cover, it seems like everyone gets into the act, even the company president's wife. When there's that much input, inevitable controversies arise. Here in Part !, we'll cover two key cover issues: cover motto and cover copy.
First, here are unspoken questions in a prospect's mind when they see your cover, and also in the minds of many of your not-top-customers who often don't quite remember who you are.
1. "Who are you?"
2. "What do you sell?"
3. "Why should I bother opening the cover and looking inside?"
If your catalog is not a vastly known and loved brand (L.L. Bean, Tiffany), then your cover needs to answer those unspoken questions.
MOTTO: HOW TO DECIDE IF YOUR CATALOG NEEDS ONE OR NOT
- Does your catalog's name make completely clear who you are and what you sell?
- Does your catalog cover image make completely clear who you are and what you sell?
- Do both together?
VitalChoice ®. Important-sounding name, but all by itself it could apply to anything from vitamins to safety equipment. Add the cover's image of delicious-looking cooked fish and the reader assumes "They sell fish". A correct assumption, but it's incomplete. Now add their motto "Wild Seafood & Organics". We see it's not just fish, it's seafood. And not just any seafood...wild seafood, and more. That combined name/image/motto clearly communicates who VitalChoice is and what they sell, right from the cover.
FootSmart®'s name and the fact that they show shoes on their covers clearly communicates the "shoes" part of who they are, and they could have stopped there. But FootSmart is more targeted than that, and their motto says it: "Expert Relief for Feet, Legs, Knees and Back". A glance at the cover and you "get" exactly who FootSmart is and what they sell.
TAKEAWAY: To answer the first two customer/prospect questions ("Who are you?" and "What do you sell?") a famous brand just needs their logo. For non-famous brands, a clear, descriptive brand name plus a clearly representative product on the cover can do the trick. But if there's any uncertainly about total clarity, add a distinctive motto to your cover for best clarity...and therefore best response.
COPY: HOW TO DECIDE IF YOU NEED EXTRA COVER COPY OR NOT
Copy is what helps answer customers' and prospects' 3rd question "Why should I bother opening the cover and looking inside?"
Cover tests across a wide range of product categories have shown again and again that cover copy lifts response, sometimes dramatically (10-50%!). But what copy? Not gratuitous copy. You want copy with cover-opening benefits to the customer.
What benefits get customers to open the cover? Examples:
New products. "OVER 180 NEW ITEMS INSIDE!" trumpet's Vermont Country Store®'s Spring catalog. Not necessarily an interesting message for prospects, but plenty exciting for customers.
Special offers. Norm Thompson®'s "SAVE on your FAVS" and "33-70% OFF" will be of big interest to customers. Great too, as a way to get prospects inside to test your catalog at a low-risk price.
Where to read more about the cover product. Chefs® uses big, eye-grabbing copy to direct you to their new Commercial-Grade 6-Qt. Mixer. The free shipping offer adds more excitement.
What's inside. Dover® lets techies know that they can access over 450 Math and Science books, including new and back-in-print. There's also a sale on many books plus free shipping. Page numbers for where to find the books pictured on the cover would have made this an even stronger cover.
TAKEAWAY: Great design alone will not entice enough readers to open the catalog to deliver you maximum response and profits. For most brands, more readers will look inside when cover copy spells out one or more specific benefits.