Friday, 16 November 2012

In the mail: November

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but in the world of catalogues the front cover is definitely important. As Bob Ashwood of The Catalogue People wrote in Seven easy tips for creating better catalogues, “catalogues need to work hard. They need to engage, inform and motivate. We call it salesmanship in print. From front to back cover, you have the opportunity to make sales at every turn of the page”.

This is why, in this month’s In the Mail, I’ve chosen a collection that I feel really stands out from the crowd.
Bloomsbury & Co

Bloomsbury & Co
Format: 220mm x 167mm, 40pp, no order form
Special offer on the cover: no
Addressing: polywrapped, address on carrier sheet, delivered by Royal Mail
Range: eclectic gifts
Delivery: £3.95 standard, guaranteed next-day delivery £6.95, orders of £10 or less £1.95
Why I like it: quirky but functional, the Bloomsbury & Co catalogue is packed with unusual gifts and can seem quite chaotic at times with its myriad fonts and type sizes. But it remains really easy to shop from: product descriptions are where they should be, the telephone number and website are prominently displayed, and there was plenty of engaging content to keep me reading. What’s more, the way the catalogue is laid out, with so much packed into its 40 pages, each page demands a second look—for good reasons.
What’s missing: The offer of 15 percent off a first order is featured on the back cover and not the front. This is a bit of a missed opportunity. 

Honey Tree Publishing
Honey Tree Bespoke Stationers
Edition: Autumn 2012
Format: 210mm x 148mm, 8-page foldout mailer
Special offer on the cover: yes, 10% off plus free gift wrap with personal message and free p&p
Addressing: no polywrap, address printed on back, delivered by Royal Mail
Range: Personalised stationery
Delivery: free
Why I like it: The mailer is immediately appealing with Christmas lights, glittery stars and ribbons adorning the front cover. The USPs of bespoke and personalised stationery are strengthened by the message Made in Somerset, indicating that this is no mass-market product, but something that is lovingly created here in the UK. Other messages on the cover include no-risk guarantees, free standard delivery and the availability of a next-day express service. I also liked that Honey Tree called out the fact there were gifts to suit all budgets—as a non-essential product it’s good to know there are a range of price points to tempt customers in. It may be an exclusive product, but the mailer is very much an inclusive invite.
What’s missing: As a direct mail piece, it does the job very well and ticks a lot of boxes. If I had to make a suggestion, I would not have included the kitchen label range in this mailer and kept the focus on gifts.  A large amount of space is given to the labels, when it could be better spent on focusing on some of the bestselling motifs or writing fonts available.

Edition: Bright Ideas Collection
Format: 210mm x 148mm, 36pp, order form on back cover
Special offer on the cover: no
Addressing: in envelope
Range: Children’s toys
Delivery: Standard UK p&p £3.50
Why I like it: The Christmassy cover does it for me. Shaped like a tree, each “branch” is punctuated by a product from the range, given customers an at-a-glance look at what’s on sale inside. I also really like how the catalogue is colour-coded with each section clearly labelled, for example “arts and crafts”, “little ones”, and “personalised”. Although the catalogue is only 36 pages, the breadth of the range means the index on the inside front cover is very handy indeed.
What it’s missing: I seem to remember the Letterbox catalogue used to be A4-sized. Now half that, I think some of the type is too small—especially the What’s inside and Birthday Club copy on the inside front cover.  For the next edition I would like to see a slightly larger catalogue, not necessarily A4, but just a tad bigger than the  current offering.--MT

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