It’s Not Either Or…It’s And and Maybe Catalogs and Collateral

Many of our clients are grappling with the catalog and collateral conundrum. Are they worth the money? Where do they fit in our transformational digital marketing environment? Is our website robust enough to become our “catalog"?

In focus groups with school business officials, subject area teachers and department chairs, principals and technology leaders, we’ve heard every answer to these questions, times 10! Your answer should be specific for your products, programs and service portfolio and, most importantly, the needs and preferences of your customers and prospects.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team. Your answers will help guide your planning and decision-making process as you decide to “catalog” or look for alternatives:

  1. Do our customers shop using the catalog and then order online?

If the answer is a resounding yes, a catalog may still be a strong contributor to your marketing mix. You can look at strategies for reducing production and mailing costs, while still supporting the “shopping” part of the buying cycle.

  1. Do we rely on our catalog as our “NEW PRODUCT” launching pad?

If so, you can put your current product lineup in an online, digital format and then develop a high impact “New Products” mini-catalog as a test. It can save time and money, and give you a new way to launch!

  1. Do you send the same catalog to everyone on your list…customers and prospects alike?

If customers rely on a print catalog for re-orders, new product announcements, and special offers, you don’t want to miss a single sale. So an option might be to create a “best seller” and “new product” version for prospecting and then develop a full line catalog in digital format for your website.

  1. Do we really need collateral materials?

If you’re selling face-to-face, presenting to critical decision-makers at the district and school levels, building relationships at conferences or selling via RFP, collateral materials are valuable sales support and enablement for your sales and implementation teams. Not everything needs to be printed, but product data sheets, organizational overviews, case studies and research summaries should be well designed, easily downloadable, and ready for print on demand for high stakes meetings and presentations.

  1. How will we know what’s the best, least scary approach to take?

The answer to this question is to ASK educators. In surveys, focus groups, 1:1 interviews, and through informal rep channels, you can gather feedback and direction quickly. You might also consider tucking a survey into your current back-to-school catalog, or posting a pulse survey online. You can also test the catalog vs. mini-catalog vs. online question in with a limited number of customers and prospects, with some personal follow up.

Before you shout “Hold the press”, let’s talk through options and opportunities for your education market segments!