Catalogue conversations – more talking less chatter!


Catalogue Conversation - more talking less chatter!

The desire to communicate has always been an essential part of humanity. Digital channels are simply a way to communicate faster, but not necessarily better or with greater clarity.

It’s only 30 years, or so, that the w.w.web and the affordable mobile phone became available. It’s less than 20 years since we have been able to use our mobile phones effectively for none-voice and internet based communications. And just under 15 years for Facebook, Twitter and the plethora of digital platforms. This massive opportunity to communicate has not necessarily allowed us to converse. We chatter instead of talking and the exchange of messages, somehow, gives the impression we are communicating at a much deeper level than we actually are.

Communication is defined as ‘the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs’ but very often it is just ‘imparting’ and less ‘interchange’. It’s very much about delivery. Emails are broadcast, we post Facebook comments and websites are hosted (we hope visitors will find us).

The earliest form of long distance communication was the hand-delivered message. It was generally written or verbal, but could also be communicated by a token or symbol. The postal service brought us reliability - but it was hardly quick, although you could get a postcard delivered and answered within a day! Letter-post, on the other hand, gave us a reliable means of sending greater information on a universal scale; mass communication had arrived.

I have a collection of my grandfather’s turn-of-the-century postcards. He would send short notes to relatives, also in domestic service, much like we would a text. His letters, on the other hand, were much more engaging and conversational, I have some of those too.

Catalogues start the conversation

I remember the late, great Don Libey starting a presentation with: ‘direct mail used to be great, you sent out stuff, people sent you money and you sent out more stuff!’ - if only it were that simple. Yep, we send out stuff but increasingly it’s ignored, deleted, dumped or simply lost in the mass of traffic we all receive.

We can all reflect on the merits of a well-structured DM piece. I know what makes a great catalogue - it’s a sum of its parts, the same with all other DM. And by mailing we differentiate it from all other marketing activity.

DM, and particularly a catalogue, instigates the sales conversation in a very direct way. It tells you stuff you don’t already know. It makes you aware of products you’ve never heard of. It makes the customers feel invested in. Enhances the senses on so many levels. It also simply says - hello!

Regular catalogue mailings, that are easy to understand and recognisably familiar, instigate a comfortable conversation

Hardwired Laziness

As a species, we are naturally lazy, it’s deeply hardwired and we avoid effort wherever possible. Effort costs energy and we take the path of least resistance. We like to keep things simple. Effort - whether it’s physical or mental - takes up energy.  It’s a physiological cost. Catalogues bring products to the customer/prospect, it makes the effort, it instigates the conversation.

We like what we know!

A repeated experience, that triggers an enjoyable response, develops familiarity. We are more comfortable with what we know, a phenomena known as ‘cognitive ease’. We believe what seems right and familiar. Regular catalogue mailings, that are easy to understand and recognisably familiar, instigate a comfortable conversation. And this conversation will be shared. This also contributes to overcoming the inherent laziness of customers!

The Gregarious Catalogue

Catalogue ‘pass through’ is something to be highly aware of. Typically a catalogue will pass through 5 hands - that’s 5 more conversations instigated. And whether B2B or B2C, they are likely to be in the same demographic. From coffee table syndrome to building site banter - if your catalogue is exposed to a similar group as the recipient - then your catalogue will be shared and another conversation will start. I know info can be shared by digital channels, but a catalogue is real and exists. It can be physically shared by the group and start another conversation, within the group or outside of it.

It can also extend a conversation. When leaving a sales meeting (exhibition or seminar) the conversation about your company, its brand and its products will continue if a catalogue is left behind. It will be shared with those who weren’t at the meeting. And a catalogue will be more effective than a simple brochure, it will be able to talk about far more and in greater depth.

Catalogues talk, and they talk about much more than your products. A good catalogue instigates meaningful conversations about every aspect of your business. It sells your brand and proposition, as well as your products. It also tells your story and is presented in a form that is tangible and tactile.

Start a conversation

With the introduction of GDPR there has never been a better time to mail a catalogue, or indeed any other direct mail piece. Royal Mail volumes have dipped with the reduction in untargeted mail, so targeted direct mail is a great way to prospect for new customers. And remember B2B mailings are far less regulated than B2C.

A catalogue can engage your customers and sell them things they never knew existed. It’s an intrusive, gregarious, infectious marketing channel and one which can seriously drive your sales.

If you would like to learn more contact me on or call the team on 0845 2300 258