The Twin Sisters of Marketing: Catalog and Magalog

Allen Taylor

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Catalogs are great marketing tools, especially for retail shops. If you run a retail business of any kind you should consider marketing your products with a print and an online catalog.

The U. S. Postal Service conducted a study and found that one of the biggest factors to generating online customer orders is a print catalog. According to the study, consumers who receive a print catalog in the mail enter into 15% more online transactions than consumers who don't and also spend 16% more money.

The Direct Marketing Association says the typical catalog shopper is a married woman in her early 50's living in the suburbs, employed earning about $53,000 and her husband is also employed.

Fifty-seven percent of catalog shoppers purchase apparel, 51% purchase gifts, 48% purchase books, music and videos, 31% purchase home furnishings, and 27% purchase home electronics. Other high percentage categories of catalog purchasers include sporting goods, travel services, sports and entertainment tickets, flowers, gardening supplies, pet supplies and food.

A simple conclusion can be deducted from these figures: If you own a retail store of any kind, you could increase your sales by targeting your customers with a print catalog. But not just any customer.

The best customer to target with a print catalog is your existing customer - the customer who shops at your store on a regular basis. If you don't have a web site, you are behind in satisfying the needs of these customers already. Add a web site and send a print catalog to drive your existing customers online, making it more convenient for them to buy your products (which they are already spending money on), then you focus the rest of your marketing efforts on gaining new customers. This strategy can increase your profits while cutting your costs so you win on both ends of the profit-cost equation.

And you don't have to spend a lot of money on a catalog. A small catalog that is attractive and used effectively can be produced for about $2 per catalog. And you don't even have to mail it. Give one to your best customers the next time they visit your store and tell them to visit your web site. You'll be surprised at how quickly they convert to online shoppers, saving themselves time and, in many cases, spending more money.

A magalog is similar to a catalog and can be even more effective, even making you money on its production. Some retail businesses can benefit tremendously from this high-powered and effective marketing tool.

It is much like a catalog except that it also includes some editorial copy, like a magazine, and some advertising from noncompeting companies.

For instance, let's say you own a bookstore. Each month you could produce a magalog that you send to your best customers. You could include book reviews, columns of prominent book publishers who discuss upcoming titles and a list of best sellers. You want to include copy that your customers will find valuable. But you can also sell advertising to businesses that compliment yours. For instance, you could partner with the video store down the street and sell them an ad to promote their business while helping defray some of the costs of publishing your magalog. If you sell enough advertising to noncompeting, complimentary businesses then you could have your entire magalog paid for before you print it; then you only reap the results of your sales.

If you own a retail store, you should seriously consider using a catalog or magalog to market your products.

Allen Taylor is an award-winning journalist, freelance writer and copywriter. He specializes in world-class marketing for small businesses. For more information about how to make your business shine visit Be sure to check out Allen's ghostwriting services and sign up for the free e-mail newsletter.


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