Catalog and Direct Selling: Sell a Concept
How Do You Define Your Merchandise Concept?
Typically it begins with an understanding of the primary benefit your products offer. It may be your distinct merchandise or exclusivity; a unique affinity your target audience has for that merchandise; or, it might be genuine expertise that helps your customers solve a specific problem. Price can be a component of your merchandise concept, but should never be the sole component. A competitor eventually will come along to challenge or beat a price-driven concept. It is more effective if you compete on value rather than a low price.
Defining your merchandise concept is only the beginning. Everyone in your company must understand the concept and how you plan to communicate it. It’s the first step in creating brand loyalty and, eventually, brand insistence.
How Do You Promote a Merchandise Concept?
Whether you’re selling a few products or hundreds of SKUs, you have multiple opportunities to present and sell your concept, including:
• A cover or envelope that quickly explains what you’re all about. It’s critical that potential customers understand what you are selling and its ultimate benefit.
• Compelling copy that consistently ties products together. Beyond just product copy, this includes headlines and subheads, editorial copy, captions and footlines.
• Photography that supports the concept. In the case of Territory Ahead, customers are inspired by breathtaking photography shot in exotic locations, engaging the customer with aspirational travel.
• Thematic spreads work for catalogs, provided they engage customers and enhance your merchandise concept. Thematic spreads that tie products together with a story always will outpull spreads that sell a group of unrelated items.
• Every point of customer contact. Don’t stop with your mail campaigns. Reinforce your merchandise concept online, in e-mails, through your call center and even in your box shipment. RedEnvelope is a good example of how to reinforce a merchandise concept when a package arrives in the mail. It takes the gift experience concept to a new level with its red box packaging and in-the-box product descriptions.