Catalog Trends

Print Catalogs Are A Cost-Effective Marketing Tool That Consumers Enjoy

Catalogs are here to stay. As they have evolved over the last decade into high-end booklets packed with the power of story, catalogs prove again and again to be an indispensable part of the retail and wholesale marketing mix.

What’s behind the continued use of catalogs?

Skyrocketing online advertising costs. 

In 2021, a large US marketing agency reported to Forbes that online advertising had skyrocketed for their clients—primarily big-name retailers. Cost per 1,000 viewers (CPM) increased by 89% in April, 69% in May, and 42% in June across such platforms as Meta (previously known as Facebook), Google, Apple, Pinterest, and Instagram. AdSkate reported in May 2022 that costs have simply kept rising. 

  • Meta’s CPM has increased 61% year over year, averaging $17.60.
  • TikTok’s CPM has increased 185% year over year, averaging $9.40/CPM.
  • Google’s programmatic display CPM has increased 75% year over year. Meanwhile, search ad CPC (cost-per-click) increased by 14% year over year.
  • Instagram’s CPM has increased 23% year over year.

And costs per click tend to increase further during the fourth quarter, which is crucial to retailers’ bottom line. Companies can’t be sure they will get their money’s worth from online advertising, so they turn to a more diverse marketing mix.

Catalogs ‘fill a retail therapy niche.’

Last holiday season, NBC News reported that consumers were weary of being on their phones and computers after pandemic restrictions rounded a second year. Older consumers enjoyed the nostalgia of grabbing a catalog or two out of the mailbox box and relaxing into the curated experience rather than searching online for something. Younger consumers tend to appreciate a high-quality catalog with some personality, a clear values message, and engaging storytelling.

Hamilton Davison, American Catalog Mailers Association president, said millennials “have an affinity for flipping pages”—much like shopping for LPs or browsing for vintage furniture. “One of the big surprises is that millennials find great value in catalogs,” he said to NBC News, citing recent research into catalog trends. “The internet feels too much like work.”

Catalogs that function as gift guides, contain rich editorial content, or appear similar to lifestyle magazines tend to increase their popularity.

How can today’s retailers create a catalog that pays?

Integrate technology.

Smart retailers use a multi-channel marketing approach, which means that they integrate online, in-store, and print marketing products, each to complement the others.

Print catalogs make it easy to ingrate technology and personalize to the recipient simultaneously. Catalogs will either send people to the store or online to buy. Make the online bridge seamless and powerful by incorporating personalized URLs or QR codes for online shoppers to take them directly to your website while providing information about their buying habits. 

Be sure both your online and brick-and-mortar stores are stocked with the items in your catalog, and consider a strong BOPIS/BOPAC/BORIS plan for the holiday season. Consumer expectations around Buy Online Pick-up In Store, Buy Online Pick-up At Curbside, and Buy Online Return In Store are only increasing. Your catalog can provide a gateway and detailed information about these services, further easing the shopping experience.

Above all, be flexible.

With continued paper shortages, you may find that to get your catalog out on time, you have to pivot from an all-encompassing 100-page book detailing every product to a 36-page booklet highlighting categories, seasonal products, or personalized content for the reader. You may have to consider changing the paper grade or the finish if certain stock becomes available or runs short. Be ready to pivot on the details so the bigger picture can move forward and out to your customers—a strong, eye-catching print catalog that sells your products for you. 

The good news is Consolidated Press is in great shape and well-stocked. We are also experienced in working closely to make materials and services swaps that work for the product and never compromise quality. Mailing is a snap for us, and we have access to the best rates available.

Whatever your catalog plans may be, we can help you print and mail the product that’s perfect for your customers.

With our efficient presses and professional staff, we can help you steward your resources while creating important print products that benefit everyone. Let us help you—reach out today!

Elections and Print

Clear and accurate print materials help elections stay secure and accessible

Free and fair elections are the bedrock of American politics. Communicating in print has played a crucial role since the first one in 1788, and it continues to make the elections process secure and accessible to the entire voting public.

Election materials need to be clear, accurate and on-time

In the Northwest, we use mail-in ballots which, coupled with voters’ pamphlets, afford voters the time to sit down at their kitchen table and become educated on each candidate and issue while filling out their ballot. Accurate and clear printing means an accurate and clear message. Smudges, misalignment, missing pages and improper binding can all contribute to misinformation—particularly for those who are disabled or do not have easy access to the internet, including elderly and under-resourced adults.

Voters’ pamphlets are printed, addressed and mailed directly to voters in time to make informed decisions. Using a reputable printer for both printing and mailing services is key to proper list management and on-time mailing to registered voters. Any mistake or delay means a vote may be cast late or not at all. 

A large printer like Consolidated Press can save money on mailing in several ways. We provide volume postage discounts by analyzing your files and providing postal logistics planning and strategy. We deliver mail direct to USPS bulk mail centers for faster delivery and postage discounts, and ink-jet addressing occurs in-line on our stitchers to save you time and money.

Printed campaign communications help sway voters

Taking part in our election process means being able to convey our specific ideals, opinions and plans to our constituents. Whether that is through flyering, print and direct mail, or canvassing, there’s a personal touch with print that you don’t get with digital communication. Besides that, print–even print and mail—is much cheaper and better trusted than television spots and outdoor advertising.

After a contentious race in Virginia, the USPS teamed up with the American Association of Political Consultants to ask voters about their sources for political outreach and information. The results revealed the power of direct mail for local campaigns.

Nearly 70% said mail sent to their homes was the most credible political outreach technique. Sixty-six percent of female voters, 56% of millennial voters, 57% of nonwhite voters, and 69% of college-age voters trusted direct mail the most. The survey also revealed direct mail in the top three most persuasive channels.

In addition, most people visit their mailboxes every day. They have positive associations with mail vs. unrecognizable digital campaign messages that are frustrating because of pop-up ads, potential privacy issues, and frequency. 

Reliability is key to the civic process

The printing industry has been in a tough spot since the pandemic started. In the early days, working together in a building was nearly impossible. Later, worker shortages slowed commercial printers across the nation. Add to that supply chain tangles and paper shortages, and presses were in a constant state of catch-up.

Today, Consolidated Press is completely staffed up and enjoying a surplus of paper. Our suppliers and vendors are all coming back up to speed and are at pre-Covid turnaround times. 

All of these factors add up to a reliable, cost-effective process suitable for government budgets and responsive to tight deadlines on the campaign trail.

With our efficient presses and professional staff, we can help you steward your resources while creating essential print products that benefit everyone. Let us help you educate voters—reach out today!

Government Printing

The Power of the (Printing) Press to Make Information Equitable, Timely, and Useful to Everyone

Government Agencies and Municipalities Rely on Print

Municipalities and government agencies produce a lot of print publications, and for a good reason—they are responsible for educating citizens. By law, they need to make certain publications available to everyone, regardless of whether they have internet access. 

Think voter’s pamphlets and, in Washington state, the ballots themselves. Municipal recreation center program catalogs. Transit schedules, walking maps. Driver’s guides. There are fliers and brochures at every public office in dozens of languages represented in any major city. Transit Schedule

Governments are also required to seek citizen input on new developments and major projects. They require diversity and volume of input from citizens on projects such as bridge construction, new highways, and public spaces that are coming online. Zoning changes and redevelopments need public buy-in to move forward. A public involvement team is often brought in specifically to do this outreach, and printed communications or publications are essential.

Direct Mail Reaches Each Household

Direct mail is also vital for municipalities and contractors specializing in government outreach. Each year, updated recycling brochures are mailed out to every person who gets services. Changes in water, gas and electricity rates come through the mail. Every homeowner is mailed a value assessment on their house periodically. 

Recently, the pandemic has compelled governments to disseminate critical public health information to huge populations as quickly as possible. 

All of this information is printed to reach the most diverse and complete group of constituents.

Consolidated Press Specializes in Government Projects for Several Reasons

  • We have enormous capacity on our web presses. We can run thousands of pieces in a short period of time. Because we work at scale, we can nimbly produce essential publications very cost-effectively right when they are needed.
  • We are experts at getting your direct mail to citizens and employees quickly and inexpensively. We create and mail announcement postcards, parks and recreation catalogs, visitor’s guides, regional newsletters, and more. We can work with you on paper choices and other tweaks that create a lighter, less expensive, yet attractive and useful piece.
  • Some pieces are just workhorses, and they need to be durable for months or years to come. Books, manuals, catalogs, guides, directories, curricula, and collections of regulations can all be perfect bound into books of any size at Consolidated Press. Optical cameras on our presses confirm quality and placement, so even nondescript projects look professional and hold up for years.
  • Even public documents deserve their privacy. We understand that government information is sensitive and timely. We protect your information from public view until its designated release time and treat each project as highly confidential.

We believe in the power of the (printing) press to make information equitable, timely, and useful to everyone. Contact us today to start reaching your citizens tomorrow.

Sales

Direct Mail and Catalogs Give You a Purchasing Advantage

In this most digital of the digital ages, a catalog that shows up in your customer’s mailbox still delivers. While so many aspects of people’s lives moved online – from Zoom meetings to telehealth doctor appointments – putting a printed piece into consumers’ hands remains a reliable way to build brand loyalty and drive sales. 

Eyes on the Prize 

Consumers spend more time with direct mail pieces than online ads or email marketing. On average, advertising mail is part of a household for 17 days. Up to 90% of mail gets opened, as opposed to only 20-30% of emails. Every generation reports being a fan of physical mail: looking forward to receiving it, taking the time to read through it, and preferring to engage with it instead of marketing emails.  

The tangible nature of direct mail evokes positive feelings in recipients, creating memories and connections. Catalogs, in particular, are accessible in many settings and at almost any time, allowing consumers to browse and shop at their convenience. The way catalogs enable companies to incorporate content, telling a story while featuring products, has a lot of appeal for consumers. 

Most companies use a multi-page marketing publication to introduce consumers to new products and feature a select number of items rather than everything “on the shelves.” In addition, when catalogs and brochures are used to present seasonal offerings, customers look forward to what is next from the company. 

Options to Shop 

The high visibility format of a print catalog invites people to browse while also giving them various ways to make a purchase. These page-turning engagements have proven over and over again to drive sales. Catalogs are most successful when used as a launching pad to omnichannel marketing. They inspire people to use their phones to purchase more than social media ads do.  

  • 72% of people surveyed said catalogs make them more interested in a retailer’s product 
  • 84% have made a purchase after seeing an item in a catalog 
  • 60% of catalog recipients visit the website associated with the catalog they receive 
  • Direct mail recipients spent 28% more money online or in-store than people who didn’t receive direct mail 

Combining catalogs with direct mail postcards is another way to boost browsing and shopping engagement. A postcard with a promotion reminds customers that they were interested in an item, and now they can save by using a special offer.  

Easy-to-track results 

Deliverables such as ROI and attribution are easy to track by using catalogs as well. Leveraging industry databases allows companies to segment customers by buyer behavior, product or service niche, and vertical, getting the right product details into the buyer’s hands. Catalogs can be tracked by mail date, customer codes, and source codes to accurately attribute sales. Companies can also use information from digital apps to track how specific catalogs are performing.   

Supporting Sustainability 

Before decrying the potential environmental impact of printing catalogs, know that the print and paper industries have a long history of developing and employing many eco-friendly practices. Sustainable systems are much more in demand now. Vegetable- and soy-based ink long ago replaced petroleum-based ink; vegetable-based inks release only 2-4% volatile organic compounds (VOCs), compared to the 100% of solvent-based inks. Energy sourcing and usage, responsible forestry and paper supply chain certifications and recycling programs all come together to reinforce the positive footprint printed materials bring to the marketing arena.  

Ask about our commitment at Consolidated Press toward sustainability, waste reduction, carbon emission reduction, and other steps in place to protect the environment. Working with a knowledgeable printer will give your catalog a look and feel that your customers will respond to while meeting your company’s eco-friendly goals.  

 

 

direct mail

Direct Mail is Worth a Thousand Words

According to a study of commercial printing trends, direct mail campaigns are on an upward swing. It’s expected that almost 72% of corporations will use direct mail, including catalogs, postcards, brochures, and books. Well-executed direct mail campaigns have a higher response rate than digital tactics, and direct mail reaches audiences that online campaigns don’t 

An outstanding metric to note is that companies of all ages – even new companies founded in the digital age – use direct mail. Companies 10 and 20 years old are leveraging direct mail at rates of 14.5% and 15.8%, respectively. Google, Amazon, Door Dash, and industry leaders in real estate, health care, leisure and travel are all using direct mail marketing to reach consumers.   

direct mail

Sending a postcard as a direct mail marketing piece is a quick and versatile way to get consumers’ attention. Using eye-catching graphics, an attention-grabbing headline, and quality card stock gives a postcard heft and authority. A brochure mailer has the advantage of giving consumers more information than a postcard, while still providing contact information and calls-to-action. Staying in front of your customers with relevant, targeted messages and offers can help keep your business front of mind.

One cost-effective method to reach customers is with self-mailers. A quick way to get your offers or branded materials into the mailstream is by creating a self-mailable piece or publication that can be inkjet addressed inline as it is printed—no inserting into envelopes or additional assembly work. The printed piece catches the eye as soon as it lands in the mailbox.  

More Direct Than Email 

  • Consumers like getting mail, and they especially seem to like postcards and catalogs.  
  • Because of their tangibility, direct mail pieces last longer than emails.  
  • Direct mail postcards are perfect for coupons. Putting a coupon on a postcard makes it easy to hold on to, and easy to use. 
  • Direct mail is also perfect for images. On a postcard, a powerful image paired with short, concise copy tells the receiver everything they need to know at a glance. With brochures and catalogs, companies have the opportunity to tell a longer story, and still emphasize image and copy elements. 
  • Response rates to digital interactive elements, also called digital calls to action, have doubled in the past four years. These callouts include social media channels, QR codes, and prompts to visit a website. 
  • Postcards and brochures are versatile. These types of direct mail come in a variety of sizes and card stocks, with specialty coatings and graphic elements that can make an immediate impact. 

Consolidated Press is your printing partner for direct mail. Contact us to talk about specialty printing, unique sizes and special mailing rates. 

 

Use These Best Practices for your Next Direct Mail Campaign

(Spoiler alert: Hiring an expert in printing and mailing covers ALL the bases!)

Not only is direct mail a great way to engage with your customers, but it also offers a powerful return on investment. Direct mail provides measurable results that generate leads, especially when using branded visuals, a solid call to action, and integration with your digital marketing campaign elements. Recent statistics reinforce the high impact advantages when communicating with direct mail compared to email and other electronic solicitations.

Did you know?

As consumers begin to flood the marketplace again, now is the time to put your brand messaging where it makes the most impact — right on their doorstep. But time is money, and the use of best practices for printing and mailing ensures a powerfully effective campaign that fits your budget.

Consider these pathways to success:

Hire an Expert

Direct mail is a complex endeavor. Between branding, designing, copywriting, printing, data management, versioning, sorting, scheduling, storing, mailing, returns, and measuring success, you have a full-time job on your hands with a direct mail campaign. A full-service printer with a consultative approach like Consolidated Press can walk you through each and every step and then replicate it for the next mailing, ensuring brand standards and clean lists.

Weigh Less, Pay Less

Paper stocks, embellishments, special coatings, coupons, return mailers, and other specialty items can add up, and mailing with efficiency means traveling light. But some projects call for high-end stock, unique finishes, and stand-out enhancements. Ask your expert to show you what items you need to maximize your investment and to help you choose the right paper and finishes for your project.

Panels, Tabs, and Size Restrictions, Oh My!

Direct mail through the United States Postal Service is a tricky business — and a highly regulated one. Your mailer needs to be the appropriate size and weight, a specific number of panels and tabbed or glued to meet USPS regulations. The specifications are vast. If you don’t believe us, look here to dive into the seemingly endless details of mailing. Never mind, don’t do that. Consolidated Press has a massive mailing program all designed to seamlessly and painlessly work within the postal system.

Have Some Class

The USPS delivers mail at several rates or classes, determined by the client’s needs and purpose of the mailing. Most often, you’ll be using USPS Marketing Mail, which, for beginning mailers, is often the best choice because postage prices are very low. According to the agency, mailers use USPS Marketing Mail to send:

  • Printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising
  • Newsletters, bulletins, and catalogs
  • Small parcels

All USPS Marketing Mail prices are bulk prices, and each mailing must meet a minimum quantity of 200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail. There is no single-piece USPS Marketing Mail postage. In USPS Marketing Mail, there are prices for letters, flats/large envelopes, parcels, marketing parcels, and Parcel Select Lightweight parcels. There’s more where that came from, but you don’t need to get into the weeds — you need to ask your expert. 

Consolidated Press, by the way, knows all this stuff and more. 

When you need expert advice on printing and mailing with a consultative approach to your project, call or click Consolidated Press to determine how they can put the pieces into place.

 

Embellished Direct Mail Discounts with USPS

Take advantage of direct mail with CP’s specialty print capabilities

Direct mail is an effective marketing strategy—year after year, the statistics tell the tale. A personal, targeted approach integrated with online purchasing and engagement is irresistible to many consumers.

At the same time, the costs of mailing and paper continue to rise, and organizations need the return on their marketing investments to be above average and consistent. Fortunately, the United States Postal Service has our backs. 

The USPS Mailing Promotions and Incentive Programs are designed to help marketers, printers, and mailers increase customer engagement and response rates with their mail pieces. Through July 31, the USPS will be offering 4% off eligible postage on mail pieces that encourage sensory engagement. The Tactile, Sensory & Interactive (TSI) Promotion leverages the technological advances the print industry has been steadily innovating.

From the USPS TSI Promotions Requirements and registration site:

The print industry has been actively innovative not only in print production equipment but the fundamental elements of the mail itself through new developments in papers/stocks, substrates, finishing techniques, and inks. These elements can be incorporated to engage a multi-sensory experience through special visual effects, sound, scent, texture/tactile treatments, and even taste! In addition, interactive mailpiece features (such as pop-ups, infinite folds, or other dimensional treatments) can also help drive a marketer’s customer’s engagement.

Neuroscience and neuromarketing research supports the potentially significant impact on brand recognition and message recall when marketing materials engage tactile experiences and/or senses. By leveraging the physical aspects of the mailpiece as well as the advances in print technology, marketers can enhance how their consumers interact and engage with mail

New technology and print techniques can enhance the traditional benefits of a physical mail piece and give higher response rates and an increase in overall return on investment. Three categories are featured in this promotion:

  • Specialty Inks
  • Specialty Paper
  • Interactive elements

Here is where Consolidated Press can step in with its vast capabilities in soft-touch, hybrid UV printing, vibrant inks, and specialty paper. CP is a leader in stunning yet economical direct mail from magazines to catalogs, directories, newsletters, promotional mail. We also are seasoned mailing experts. In addition to working with you to capitalize on USPS promotions, we can analyze your files and provide postal logistics planning and strategy, often leading to bulk discounts and increasing your crucial marketing ROI.

Contact us today to start your tactile, sensory, or interactive direct mail campaign. We would love to put your project first.