Mail-order catalogs can help you to increase sales volume, reach new markets, and make a lasting impression on your customers. Here are 10 tips on everything that you need to know to launch your product through mail-order catalogs.
- Evaluate your product line. Is your product a good fit for catalog sales? Does it have wide appeal, and can it be easily shipped to customers? Catalog shoppers must also be able to understand instantly your product’s function and its benefits.
- Make a list of prospects. Identify the catalogs that specialize in your type of product and cater to your target audience. Obtain a copy of each catalog, and peruse the company’s Web site to understand where your product fits. Then pick 10 companies to whom to pitch your product.
- Research the submission process. Each company will have slightly different procedures for submitting products for consideration. Learn these guidelines, and follow them to the letter. Typically, you will be asked to send a brochure or sales flier and price schedule, along with samples of each item that you wish to sell.
- Consider how the various catalogs operate. While many mail-order companies simply buy your products from you and sell them to their customers, not all catalog companies operate in this way. Some charge you for ad space to be included in their catalog, while others require you to drop-ship the goods to their customers. Make sure you can fulfill a particular catalog’s processes before you agree to do business with them.
- Run the numbers. One of the biggest advantages to catalog sales is the low overhead. There are minimal sales and marketing expenses, which can eat up 20 to 40 percent of the budget of a traditional business. You will probably make money as long as you can sell your product for 50 percent more than your manufacturing cost. Set your wholesale prices accordingly.
- Develop your pitch. How you “position” your product may determine whether or not it is accepted by the retailers to which you shop it. Tailor your presentation to the tone and content of each catalog. This will mean extra work, but it will pay off in additional sales. Having the right content persuades catalog buyers that your product belongs in their book.
- Differentiate your products. Catalogs want unique products — not something that all of their competitors carry. When you pitch your product, highlight why it will be a winner in the marketplace, what makes it different, and why consumers will order it.
- Refine your offerings. Catalogs change their offerings with every printing, so it is up to you to do what you can to ensure your product’s success. If it is not a best seller, research why. The product itself could be perfectly good, but maybe your copy is lackluster, or maybe the photo isn’t appealing. Ask friends, family members, and customers for feedback on your catalog offering, and heed their advice.