Ditch print at your own risk!

In the digital scramble not to be left behind, many companies are forgetting the basics of marketing when shifting catalogues from print to digital. The simple truth about printed catalogues is that they are relatively expensive, but they work because certain customers like them.

I know it can be difficult to swim against the tide of opinion and the pressure on marketers from competitors, peers, agencies, boards and even their own cv, to follow the digital trend can cause channel myopia.

A decade ago I came under intense pressure to cut costs (aka the print catalogue) and by demonstrating to the board the customers purchasing process – the cuts were found elsewhere. We were able to show that the sales of our company products were generated by the paper catalogue found in our customers’ workshops and not by the computer found in our customers’ offices.

That experience reminded me of 3 marketing basics:

  1. Understand how your customers use your catalogues.
  2. Digital is only one of a number of potential customer interactions.
  3. Customers will choose how they interact with your business.

If you haven’t seen the brilliant IKEA catalogue advert here’s the link to “experience the power of a bookbook – at only 8mm thin, and weighing in at less than 400g, the 2015 IKEA Catalogue comes pre-installed with thousands of home furnishing ideas.” https://goo.gl/BD4gdl

In the UK major catalogue business like Littlewoods, Argos and N Brown are constantly reviewing their strategies against the landscape of lower digital costs, shareholder value, management changes, product sectors and customer demographics. In the digital game of pontoon it’s a case of twist, stick and fold.

  • Littlewoods have been sending catalogues to homes for over 80 years, at one point hitting 25 million, yet they have recently decided to drop the famous Littlewoods Catalogue in favour of a monthly magazine format.
  • N Brown CEO Angela Spindler has said that there are no plans to scrap its catalogues. “I don’t want to get rid of catalogues completely. It’s a great catalyst and a great marketing tool.”
  • Argos has been driving a digital revolution in their traditional catalogue stores replacing print catalogues with ipads – however some stores are said to be restoring the laminated paper copies as customers prefer to flick through.

Digital has taught Print some key marketing lessons, with the latter embracing improved storytelling, infographics and strong visuals, all of which seen to be working, as there has been something of a catalogue revival in the US (Ulbe Jellume – Print Power Europe) and apparently the 25 year olds in Australia prefer to read catalogues in print than online; and 70% of consumers keep catalogues in their homes for over one month and 34% for up to a year. (ACA)

Whichever way you choose to interpret the data there is only one way to sense-check your decision and that’s with your marketing basics.

Since 2013 I have been helping ambitious SMEs with their Strategic and Leadership challenges.

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Posted in communication, Customer Experience, Digital Marketing, Marketing
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