It’s a big topic these days.  How many articles have you read with the title “Print is Not Dead,” or “Print is Alive?”  As great as it would be to sit here and tell you that if you print a catalog, you’ll have a guaranteed successful ROI, it’s just not that simple for companies who are thinking about starting a catalog to grow their businesses.  The truth is that, although having a printed catalog has proven to be a crucial marketing strategy for many companies, there is more to it than simply printing a catalog.  Having a catalog is not all about printing; it’s about targeting your audience, planning out your mailings, and tracking the success so you know what works and what doesn’t.  Printing can be expensive, so you want to make sure you do it right.  Here are some topics to think about when getting ready to start your first printing.


Copy & Design When you are getting ready to design your catalog there are a few things that you must remember.  For one, you want to make sure that your catalog is going to stand out among the many other direct mail pieces people will be receiving at the same time.  Second, it is important that your content appeals to the lifestyle of your demographic, whatever that may be.  Both of these things can be achieved utilizing the power of copy and design.  Here are a few tips to get you started on the right track:

  • Make sure you have an outstanding front cover
  • Design to your audience/demographic
  • Try printing a different than standard catalog size (such as a slim jim)
  • Use a simple layout with great photos (for more on this subject click here).
  • Be sure to lead your customers to the “deals”
  • Be consistent in your design from issue to issue


Circulation & Mail Planning: According to an article written by Steve Lett and published on the Online Integration website, “A circulation strategy accounts for up to 70 percent of any mailing’s success” (you can read this article here).  70 percent is nothing to blink at.  That’s a huge number.  Here are some strategies to help you get started on circulation and mail planning moving forward:

  • Identify unprofitable mailings
  • Never stop prospecting
  • Continue to grow your house file
  • Mail in multiple drops
  • Keep up on list hygiene
  • Purchase a mail list

It is important that you stay ahead of the curve and never allow your mail list to drop year to year.  You want to be growing your file, creating new customers, and generating new sales.  Don’t veer from this course or cut your circulation.  Remember, healthy flow, healthy grow.


bdrm1183Tracking: From search engine analytics, to QR Codes, to personalized phone numbers and webpages, there are so many ways to track your catalog’s ROI.  The important thing is that you do track your investment.  Here are some ideas of how you can track your investment.


  • Matchback
  • QR Codes
  • Personalized Web Pages
  • Catalg Specific Phone Number
  • Demoographic correspondence
  • Surveys

It is important to record everything. This means who your catalog is being sent to, what their age, gender, and social status is, what they bought and from which page of the catalog the purchase came from.  This not only helps you track your ROI, but it also helps you determine what is working from a design standpoint with which demographics.


Having a healthy successful catalog program is more than just simply having a catalog.  Cataloging is like baking. You must have a good recipe to achieve success.  If you are thinking about starting a catalog, think about copy and design—what will set your brand aside from the other direct mail pieces.  Think circulation and mail planning-who and when are you sending your catalog out to and for what reasons?  Lastly, think Return on Investment.  What success have you pulled in as a direct (or indirect) result of your direct mail catalog?  Remember these things and you’re off to a good start.  Good luck and happy printing!!