Create a Catalog
Catalogs seem “so yesterday”! But have you noticed you’re receiving more of them in the mail than ever? Know why? Because they work.
Your catalog should have two key components:
- Information of value to the customer
- A unique design or format
This may be the only contact the customer has with you in an offline setting. It’s crucial to make a good impression with a well-designed catalog.
Catalogs as branding machines
Catalogs allow you to create a snapshot of what your business is all about in the comfort of your customer’s own home. If designed professionally, catalogs help you stand out from your competition, shout out your company’s products and embody the image you wish to portray.
Catalogs and loyalty
Americans who shop from catalogs are loyal. They make an average of 15 catalog purchases annually, according to a study by the Direct Marketing Association.
Catalogs and "shelf life"
Catalogs give you additional time to stay in a prospective client’s thoughts – they have what’s called “shelf life.” This means they hang around on a credenza or in a stack of unread mail somewhere until your eye-catching publication is picked back up and thumbed through during downtime – just the right frame of mind and relaxed moment for a customer to consider making a purchase.
Catalogs as "loss leaders"
Some businesses look at catalogs as an indirect instead of a direct selling tool that results in purchases made through the provided toll-free number. What catalog issuers discovered in the Internet age is that many people actually do their purchasing at your Web site instead of by phone. So take into account the possibility that your catalog could be a money-losing proposition in and of itself, but very effective in causing desirable sales volume online. All of this can be tracked with promotional codes that you encourage customers to use.
Use Sales Reps
We’ll dive deeper into this one in Step 10, which focuses on Sales, but we couldn’t outline channels without at least an honorable mention of using sales reps. Reps can provide a turnkey way for you to hit accounts you could never get around to with your internal resources. And by tapping their access through their pre-existing relationships, whole new channels could present themselves.
For example, you may be able to approach mom-and-pop retailers in your area, but the reps might be able to add a new channel, like chain stores, to your sales effort. When the Battery Buddy was introduced to the marketplace, our licensee first got the product onto the shelves in Sears stores by meeting with the buyer at Sears corporate. This was something they could manage internally. But they used sales reps to get the product into car dealership service garages, because it was a totally different channel of distribution and our licensee didn’t have the internal network of national salesmen to make this happen.
One important note: Many sales reps are better at taking orders than at selling. Selling is expensive, difficult and potentially time consuming. Taking orders for “the usual” products that are already in demand, on the other hand, is about as easy as can be.