CATALOG COVER CONTROVERSIES: PART 2
First published on MyTotalRetail.com blog February 2015
© 2015 Susan J. McIntyre
Last month we examined controversies about having a motto, and whether or not to have extra copy on the cover. Today we'll look at three other cover issues that get lots of debate. They all revolve around the question "What type of cover is most likely get the catalog opened and delivering high response?"
SELL DIRECTLY FROM THE COVER OR NOT?
"Selling directly from the cover" means you have the product photo, full product copy, item number and price right on the cover. That is, just like you show inside the catalog.
This cover style is used often by "value" catalogs. And it works very well for them. I've seen tests where selling directly from the cover significantly lifts catalog response versus just the photo of the same product (and versus other types of covers as well).
But what if your catalog is "upscale", not "value"? Can an upscale catalog successfully sell from the cover? Upscale catalogers tend to reject the concept as too downscale, but it would be a great test. Theoretically, a product could be sold from the front cover with just as much style and elegance as is done inside the catalog, and work well. If you have the pluck, give that test a try (and tell me how it did). But if your team is conservative, then stick to traditional upscale-cover styles.
SHOW SINGLE OR MULTIPLE PRODUCTS ON THE COVER?
If you mail frequently, it's important to keep each cover looking fresh to motivate customers to open and look inside each issue. One good way to vary the look is to vary the number of products featured from issue to issue.
A great close-up of a single product can be dramatic and eye-catching.
But multiple products can be eye-catching too, and there are several ways to show them:
- A hero product with related products as props (i.e. a mixer propped with a mixing spoon and cake pan).
- A hero product with small inset images of other products.
- If you sell apparel, show a whole outfit rather than single items. Or show several items in one shot, on models or mannequins.
- If you sell furniture, show a room setting rather than a single item.
- A grid of different products can be a nice, eye-catching change. A grid can be simple and straightforward or artfully arranged.
The key is to keep the covers fresh. You don't need to tie yourself to a single repeating formula (like "grid" or "one big hero"). Rather, you can create a rotation of looks and number of products featured, to make each cover fresh. And to keep your customers opening your catalog...and buying.
DON'T SHOW ANY PRODUCTS AT ALL?
How about a an illustration or lifestyle cover? Do you really need to show products at all?
Not always. Depends on your brand, how recognizable your logo is, and what will resonate with your audience.
An old-line outdoor cataloger tested "scenic", versus "product", versus "antique photo" (of old-time outdoorsmen). Results? Surprisingly perhaps, "antique photo" was #1, "product" #2, and "scenic" #3. The winning concept was successfully rolled, executed in various ways for ongoing freshness.
Like the example above, some catalogers have had success with non-product covers. But almost always non-product covers are used in rotation with more traditional, product-focused covers.
If you have a feeling that an out-of-the-ordinary cover might work for your brand, then by all means test. Covers are one of the cheapest kinds of tests you can do. Can't test? Getting management pushback? Then you'll always be safe sticking with big products on your covers.