Postcards Versus Catalogues

Joy Gendusa asked:

What do successful cataloguers do when they market?

There is a secret, or so it seems, in the catalogue industry that has not gotten out of the bag yet. Why is it a secret? It is probably not intended to be that way, but it just happens to remain a ‘little-known datum’. So, what’s the secret, you ask!?!?

Successful cataloguers use postcards to market.

You may wonder how they can possibly sell their wares with something as miniscule as a postcard.

Simply and easily. Postcards work because they are inexpensive and they get the attention of the prospective buyer who might like to shop in their particular catalogue. Many big catalogue companies do it – JC Penny, Spiegel, Brighton – they all use postcards.

First off, why send out an expensive-to-produce-and-mail catalogue before you KNOW FOR SURE that the recipient will even open it – let alone order something?

Plus, postcards can lead your prospect to your website where they may just place an order; – you may not even need to send them an expensive catalogue at all to get that first order.

But even for the non-internet users, you will get their attention and they’ll call if they want your catalogue.

You may think that the recipients of postcards won’t order your catalogue because they are not able to see all your merchandise on the postcard. Well, there is a fantastic marketing datum that I learned in the Hubbard Management System that I have found to really work. It is called ‘Come-on Dissemination’. Basically, if you satisfy your prospect with all the answers to their questions, then you lose their interest (curiosity) and then you lose the sale. If they find out everything they wanted to know before they had to buy or order, their curiosity gets satiated and they do not buy. Postcards handle that particular aspect by giving them enough data to peak their interest. You want them to be so interested that they order. If you satisfy them before they buy you will inhibit their reach (reason to order, call, buy, etc.).

And just in case you are also thinking that the bigger catalogues are only successful at it because people are more familiar with their products, reputation or branding – the answer is…No, they just like to keep more of the money they are making! They know that when their prospects get their catalogue (that costs anywhere from $2 on up per piece to send out), they may throw it away immediately – without even looking at it! People do the same with a postcard, but:

a)The recipient will at least have to look at the message on the postcard before they throw it away – so you have 2 seconds to grab their attention


b)Postcards are cheap – .35 cents (that includes postage, design, mailing list, etc.). These big cataloguers market smart by continuing to send postcards out until their prospects finally decide to order their catalogue. Catalogues are too expensive to shell out like that! Postcards are more cost effective.

The Best Way to Go About It…

The trick with postcards is to advertise on your postcard one of your best selling items and mail it to your prospective buyer list. Then design another postcard with another one of your best selling items and mail it to the same list one to two weeks later. Do the same again and again for about four to five postcards. Make an offer on your postcard, like, you will send them a catalogue for free and 10% off their first order if they order within 30 days of ordering their catalogue.

Then, when you have exhausted those five postcards on that prospect list, tally your results but definitely hit ‘em again. Same rotation of postcards mailed out every one to two weeks. And those recipients that didn’t order your catalogue the first time they got the postcards might this time. Or they’ll go to your website.

And you do it again. And the ones that didn’t order the second round, will this time. People are different and have different response times. Some respond immediately and some require quite a lot of communication.

And you do it again….it’s a numbers game; it’s a communication game. Sometimes you have to beat people over with head with an idea before the light bulb goes off. Same with marketing. Except you are gently nudging via their mail boxes.

You will get reaches. You will get orders. You will save money. And you will be doing what successful retailers and cataloguers have been doing for eons. How do I know? I service some really successful cataloguers and I see what they do that is successful.

So, although you may think that because you produced a catalogue (which was no easy task) and you mailed it out that you are marketing. Well, you are…to a degree but it is foolish to be in business these days and not market in huge quantity. You have to market aggressively. There is so much mass communication out there today that you have to constantly be in your target market’s face in order to make an impact. Twenty years ago it was not that way. Forty years ago it really was not that way. Come up to present time and market smart. Postcards are one of the smartest ways to go. Brochures are the next smartest. Postcards followed up with brochures are just plain intelligent.

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