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from personal experience starting-up, solving problems, and growing several businesses.
Catalogs have a long and colorful history. For more than a hundred years, catalogs have brought the world to the doors of Americans.
Well, the world has moved on. Catalogs today still put products in front of prospective customers. Catalogs are on the Internet and in your mailbox.
Example: Ralph runs a furniture store. It's been in his family for many years and enjoys a good reputation in the area it serves. Ralph saw a market for American made furniture that he wanted to tackle. He contacted several small furniture makers--from single operator furniture designers to Amish family operations. Gradually, Ralph homed in on selections. He posted his catalog on his website and he mailed his new catalog to a growing list of prospects. It worked. Not only did his current customers come to the store more often, new customers signed on as well. And they referred others.
Some people are attracted to one-of-a-kind products and designer limited edition pieces. Businesses can successfully expand into these markets.
Example: Gweneth owns and operates a garden center. For years she expanded into greenhouses, growing many kinds of annuals and perennials, herbs and vegetables. She served both the wholesale and retail markets. Competition grew increasingly stiff, and pricing became very tight. She decided on a major change. Today, she grows daylilies and hostas in the fields, and the greenhouses are filled with orchids and unusual green plants. Her catalogs are mainly on the website, but a few are printed and mailed to a select clientele. The printed catalogs have attracted the attention of collectors and specialists in the plants she grows. Gweneth maintains an inventory of the older catalog issues which people order from her--a small market in itself, but it helps defray the catalog costs.
Catalogs can be used in many businesses. Products include women's fashion, trendy housewares, furniture, unusual plants, cigars, chocolates, coffee, teas and more.
Not all businesses will find catalogs cost effective. With a website, it's easy to test out for yourself whether or not catalogs work in your business.
Printed catalogs are expensive to produce and mail. But you can put a catalog on your website relatively cheaply--making it colorful, attractive and useful in expanding your reach.