LaPierre Stresses Value, Change to Catalogers

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BOSTON - Catalogs need to be compelling enough to open, but once a consumer is inside, catalogers need to provide them with value, according to Bill LaPierre, vice president of list brokerage at the Millard Group, Inc., Peterborough, NH. LaPierre addressed catalogers here at the DMA Catalog Council's 9th Annual On-the-Road event.

Customers value a good deal, a good product that will last, and catalogers who don't waste their time, LaPierre said.

One way to show customers that a product is valuable is to come up with a product name that highlights its value, he said. He offered Cabela's "brush buster" boot as an example.

LaPierre also told attendees to make it easy for customers to find the copy that correlates to its visuals, and to be sure that their catalog copy matches those visuals. For instance, if a catalog is selling a hooded sweater, customers should be able to see the hood in the photo. If a product is sold as a set, it should be displayed as a set; if a product is sold in two sizes, it should be clear which size is depicted on the page.

While catalogers need to provide consumers with value, they also need to be willing to change, a crucial part of successful customer acquisition.

"What compels a customer to look at a catalog is familiarity - which may be great for a house file, but not prospects," he said.

LaPierre also said that catalogers should keep in mind that their customers' e-mail boxes are full of offers. So, they need to think like their customers and answer the question, "what are you going to tell me to make me respond, especially in those precious first words?"

Personal e-mails that are "signed" by the company's president are likely to get better response rates, said LaPierre, than those that are "signed" by another company executive. He also told catalogers that they should try to fit the entire e-mail message above the fold, so that customers don't have to scroll down to read the whole message.


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