Thursday, June 18, 2015

Catalog Comeback Serves Notice To Authors

When you think of the paper world, you might think of books, magazines, and newspapers.  The digital media world has certainly transformed and forever impacted traditional media.  But what of paper catalogs?  It appears after a significant decline, they are making a comeback.  Could this be a sign of things to come?

The number of mailed catalogs peaked in America in 2007.  They started to decline in 2008, the dawning of The Great Recession and the point in which digital started to surge.  Nearly 20 billion catalogs were mailed in 2007.  Now, a bit more than 11 billion were sent out in 2013, the last year on record.  For five consecutive years, the catalog totals dropped – until 2013.

Some may wonder why paper catalogs are mailed when the online world offers unlimited showcasing.  But maybe the problem is that people don’t know how to browse online as well as they can flip through a paper catalog.  There’s something complete and comprehensive about a catalog, just as there’s something authoritative about holding a paper book in one’s hands.

The main selling point to print catalogs is they instantly engage the reader and invite the recipient to read it.  It’s a call to action, requiring nothing more than to turn the pages.

That’s different than someone having to be notified to look at a website.  The catalog takes you exactly where you should look but on a website, one can get lost on it, even miss things.  Or worse, get distracted by texts, emails, and other things going on with social media.

I used to love looking through catalogs, seeing the new clothing styles as well as enjoying beautiful models.  Now I rarely receive or go through a catalog.  But I can see their value.

Book marketers should take a page out of the new catalog strategy.  Go old school!  Use paper to get your message out – do mailers, posters, and ads in printed publications.  Hand out fliers.  Send printed press releases by snail mail.  Try it. Everyone else has clogged up the inboxes of the media, spammed the consumer, and relies on social media to get attention that rarely translates into actual sales.  You should do what others fail to do – and do it well.

Catalogs help grow a brand.  They stick around a house, where more than one person can come upon them more than one time each.  They are beautiful and they invite the reader to buy, buy, buy.  Maybe the catalog strategy for authors is simply this: Don’t forget to utilize the communication means of the 1990s – mail, phone, catalogs, and print ads.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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