Logical Pagination Paves Way for Powerful Headlines

Headlines are the most important part of an ad. They also are one of the most effective selling tools catalogers have. So why don’t we see great headlines more often?

The biggest obstacle to great headlines is illogical pagination. Pagination, or what products go on which pages, is an art in itself. There are multiple factors that make pagination effective. Space allocation, high traffic areas and flow can all make a real impact on sales. But using logical pagination to create stories, areas of interest and compelling sales strategies is where the big money is.

Imagine you are a customer and are shopping a catalog for no particular reason other than you have a few minutes and you liked the cover. You flip through the first few pages and you see some things that interest you, but nothing stands out and no one is helping to convince you to buy, so you put the catalog down. Later, you may remember that you saw something that interested you, but not where it was. It would be like going into a store that lacks both departments and salespeople. If you want to sell more products, it makes sense to make it easy for your customers to find them and give them compelling reasons to make a purchase with effective headlines.

One of the reasons so many headlines are generic is that the people who are paginating catalogs aren’t thinking about headlines at the beginning of the process. Instead they let the copywriters try to come up with headlines after the fact. The stronger the product grouping, the better material the copywriter has to work with. That means more compelling, benefit-driven headlines right out of the gate.

Imagine you are a copywriter and you are given a spread with a dog dish, earmuffs, rug, coffeepot and a rock ‘n’ roll CD on it and you need to come up with a strong headline – preferably a benefit-driven one.


Now imagine that you are given a spread of Gore-Tex outerwear, all at 20 percent to 30 percent off.

The first scenario would have you pulling out your hair. The second would be a breeze.

The difference is logical pagination.

If you look at your catalog and you have lots of two-word headlines that could go on any number of pages – such as “Think Spring,” “Romantic Accents” or “Great Ideas” – it’s probably because there aren’t enough items that logically go together to make a strong headline work. These types of headlines do nothing to sell product, but they take up space.

That combination doesn’t work for me.

Take a look at shoes as another example. If a catalog sells shoes and puts women’s athletic shoes together, that is logical.

But if that’s the only level of logic, you probably would end up with generic headlines like, “Great Deals on women’s athletic shoes” or “Six styles of famous maker athletic shoes.”

But what if you grouped them further, by putting all the shoes that come in wide widths on a spread. Now you can have a headline like, “Hard to fit? Six styles, all in wide widths!” You also could group them by price, materials, purpose, performance, brand or style.

Multiple stories make even stronger headlines. Consider: “Save 20% to 30% on breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex” or “Last-Minute Mother’s Day gifts under $25!”

Not sure which way to go?

Look at your customer profile and ask yourself, “What would the customer see as being the greatest benefit?” and “What is the most interesting story?”

Logical pagination is easier when you only need to put one or two products on a page to make your hurdle rate. It gets more challenging as the density goes up. It also becomes more important to give customers ways to sort through the product mix. There are plenty of logical ways to group products. Consider just a few to get your juices flowing:

· Customer interest – great for hobbies and gifts.

· Age appropriate – great for toys and gifts.

· Where customers would use them – kitchen, garage, home office, etc.

· Special features – materials, problem solving, non-allergenic, lightweight, disposable, easy care, made in the USA, etc.

· Price – items under or over a certain price point.

· Size – hard to fit, extended sizes, wide widths.

· Color – this can be fun, but should be used sparingly.

· Hard to find – one of direct mail’s great strengths.

· Best sellers – great on a back cover or opening spread.

· Top rated – justifies the purchase price and adds credibility.

· Holiday related – Fourth of July, President’s Day, national history month, Queen Victoria’s birthday. Explore your options. You don’t have to limit yourself to Christmas, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

· Items that are used together – Barbecue, boating, road trip, slumber party, bridge party, tailgating, spa.

Don’t forget that if you have a density goal of five items per page, you can mix it up a bit by placing five items on some and eight on others, then three and so on. Strong logical pagination will keep customers on the page longer, make items easier to go back to, help with comparisons and add-on sales and give your copywriters the tools they need to really shine.

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