Catalog vs. Solo Package
1. Your product offering is limited, or homogenous, and it needs more attention than perhaps an eight-page or 12-page catalog might provide. Placing it in an envelope with a letter or offer certificate might be a way to get more attention.
2. You have a successful category that customers always respond to, but it’s not quite ready for a spin-off catalog. Create a small catalog and mail it in a solo package!
• Add on. Other items might go along with your catalog. For example, it might be affordable and profitable to send “support” pieces when selling to your better customers. Consider: Does it make sense to send a letter, a sample or a thank-you gift? The item(s) you include should be relevant to customers and, more importantly, tested.
When Can a Solo Package Become a Catalog?
Yes, there is a time when a company that traditionally sells via direct mail packages should create a catalog program. Mostly, it’s when your product line fulfills the definition of what makes a catalog (as described above). More importantly, though, it’s when customers tell you or give you “permission.” Whether it’s through research or customer service activities, if customers are asking for more products or for new category extensions, a catalog program should be tested. And yet another opportunity can be seen if you’re successfully selling several product lines via solo packages and you are able to sell them under one brand concept.
Both formats are successful in direct marketing, and both should be considered—even if you are a “purist” in one format or the other. Consider successful direct marketing companies such as The Sharper Image or Omaha Steaks. These companies have profitably used both formats for specific occasions. All it takes is an appropriate offer (or offering) tested to the right audience.