You Don’t Have To Be Big To Test A Catalogue…

I was recently asked the following question, and I thought the answer could be useful to many people – so here it is:

Question: Every year I tell myself I should put together a mail order brochure for Christmas and it always gets too daunting and doesn’t get done.  To be honest I don’t quite know where to start with this, do you have a template that might get me on my way?


I don’t think there’s any such thing as a quick template, but I offer you the following advice, hope it’s useful!

Catalogues are bloody expensive (that’s a technical term), paper, print, post, time, effort, and potential for it to go wrong. eg product on cover never comes into stock. Catalogues are also very static – once it’s out there you can’t do anything with it.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some form of postal mailing for Xmas, just do something which matches your needs. Let me explain.

Your aim = drive some sales for Xmas, and get people exploring your “gift” ideas as well as “practical” items (I know many of your products can be both)

Postal activity will add an extra string to your marketing bow, and should drive a strong response. It also gives you something to put into the parcels you send out as well (‘bouncebacks’)

Every year what happens is – you aim for the sky, and don’t get there because it’s a huge task.

So let’s do something that minimises the risk, and still gives you the benefits….

How about a 4 page catalogue/newsletter. (if you get carried away you can always add another 4 pages in the middle!).

Make it small enough to be classed as a letter (massively cheaper postage). (240x165mm, so A4 folded would be fine) Royal Mail Info Here

Page 1 =

  • awesome picture of a horse with your products on it – ideally best sellers
  • your brand, phone number, email address, website address
  • big button re: a special offer / last order dates “Free P&P over £50”, “Free P&P if order before 10th December”, “Guaranteed….”
  • if the design will allow it add a few bestsellers on the front too

Page 2/3 =

  • Double page spread of your best selling products, including some that would work as a gift (not all of them need to)
  • repeat all your contact details, offers, and guarantee stuff.
  • DEFINITELY include the last order dates here – must be easy to find

Page 4 =

  • Single page of your bestsellers
  • Leave space for address info if you’re putting into clear poly for the post
  • Repeat contact details, last orders etc


  • Put the most attractive to buyers / best selling products on page 1 and 4, the less powerful products go inside
  • For every product featured include Name, Photo, Price, AND your “Ref No” from the website – customers will search on the Ref No to find the products (check this search method works on your site!)
  • Roughly speaking, the product you expect to sell most of, give the most space to
  • If it helps you pull it together give each of page 2, 3, 4 a theme – “gifts for horse lovers”, “gifts for your horse”, “Gifts for the yard” “stock up and avoid running out on Christmas Eve”, “best sellers”, “Stocking fillers” etc. This isn’t essential for such a short mailer, but it feels good to you – go for it.
  • Don’t crowd the products – they need space to breathe in order to sell.
  • BUT do include “more options online” “wider range on the website” “wider range at” etc
  • Also include “Bestseller” and “New” logos
  • I’d be tempted to make the whole catalogue full price. With just ONE offer in it – a “buy anything get this free”, or a single product special offer. Don’t let it look like a sale catalogue.

Hope that helps, let me know how you get on.

Also, you might want to put this event in your diary – ECMOD Direct Commerce Show 2013 17th and 18th September at Olympia. Register for the event (the free bit) then take a look at the conference parts. There’s 2 about catalogue creation, and all 3 of the speakers are top notch and really know their stuff.

If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask (and there are no stupid questions in eCommerce – click here to ask away!)