By Toni Elsberry, Director of Strategic Accounts
My short answer: Absolutely. But let me explain more about why, and how to ensure your print catalog is successful in a marketing landscape dominated by digital media.
Educators Value Catalogs, Plain and Simple
Marketing has become more customer-focused. Rather than relying on pure promotion, smart marketers provide educators with brand-relevant information they need on channels they want to build awareness and trust that will eventually lead to sales.
Agile data tells us that educators both want and need catalogs. In fact, approximately:
- 43 percent use catalogs to learn about supplemental materials
- 26 percent to learn about school supplies
- 22 percent to learn about professional development materials
There’s No Denying That Catalogs Work
Why do catalogs get read? When the popularity of one marketing channel declines, such as direct mail has over the past decade, and the popularity of other channels increase, like digital, this creates clutter. While physical mailboxes are emptier than ever, email inboxes and web screens are busier than ever. Many educators are feeling digital fatigue.
Shifting some of your digital marketing resources to a direct mail piece like a catalog can help you reach educators without battling for their attention on busier channels, plus the attention direct mail receives will be longer. A teacher can’t delete a catalog with a quick click or by closing a browser window. A catalog can sit on a desk and be revisited or passed along to colleagues over the course of several weeks, and even the full school year.
The fact that educators can physically touch a catalog adds to its marketing impact. Science proves this. According to neuroscience research, the tangibility of direct mail pieces creates improved recall over longer periods of time, stronger brand associations and deeper emotional connections and engagement.
This high engagement can lead to stronger response and sales. Catalogs have the power to pique an educator’s interest in a product, driving them online to learn more. Catalogs also can kick-start the customer journey, introducing educators to products they eventually will purchase.
Apply Digital Marketing Tactics to Improve Catalog Success
It’s an unfortunate fact that direct mail costs more than digital marketing. But, you can make the dollars you invest in a catalog work harder by employing some of the same tactics you use to ensure digital marketing success.
Gathering educator data is the first step to creating a successful catalog that will generate sales and offset high mailing fees. Use educator prospecting data to target and segment catalog distribution to smaller groups of more qualified educators.
The quality of this data is key. There is a lot of turnover in education, so you want to make sure your data attributes the right educators to the correct roles and includes accurate contact information to reach them. You can then use variable printing to personalize catalogs to different titles or demographics, promote different product categories to the most appropriate audiences, or, if you have access to deep educator data, such as the type of information Agile’s EdIntel provides, target educators in only the schools or districts you know have an interest in your specific products.
Next, think about how your catalog can work within an integrated marketing strategy that spans print and digital. Catalogs are a great jumping-off point along the buyer’s journey, creating early awareness for products and encouraging educators to explore them on other channels.
Within your catalog, include personalized URLs or QR codes that drive traffic online. Make your social channels prominent to send educators to those communities as well. Right around the same time your catalog is scheduled to arrive in mailboxes, deploy an email campaign that offers similar promotions. Seeing your brand in more than one place, and on more than one channel, can improve educators’ familiarity and response rates.
At Agile, we believe in the power of catalogs. That’s why we’ve invested in one, too. Catalogs can be mailed or left behind after sales meetings. They also make great digital downloads. If you’re thinking about bringing your catalog back, or creating one for the first time, ask about how we can help get your catalog in the hands of the most qualified educator prospects.
About the Author
Toni Elsberry is Director of Strategic Accounts at Agile Education Marketing. Toni taps into her more than 15 years of experience in education sales and marketing to help edtech organizations utilize data and multi-channel marketing to move PreK-12 and higher education decision-makers through the education sales cycle: building brand awareness, establishing thought leadership and authority, generating leads, and driving sales. Reach Toni at firstname.lastname@example.org.