Are Print Catalogs Still Relevant in Today’s Digital World?

Today you can order online, order over the phone, and even order from your phone. With so many choices, where do old-fashioned paper catalogs fit in the marketing mix? Printing and mailing are expensive propositions. Is it even worth it anymore?

Are Print Catalogs Still Relevant in Today's Digital World?

Are print catalogs still relevant in the age of digital marketing? Oh yes.

Here are some surprising reasons print catalogs are making a comeback…and why multi-channel marketing is the way to go.

Catalogs Spark Ideas

According to management consulting firm Kurt Salmon, 44% of consumers say they’d like to receive fewer catalogs. But get this: in the same survey, 58% responded that they get ideas from paging through catalogs, and nearly 30% said they have retailer catalogs in hand while purchasing goods online. Almost 90% said they’d bought products they first saw in a catalog.

Why the contradiction? Catalogs have an appeal that goes beyond product photos. We may be annoyed when they stuff our mailboxes, but two out of three can’t resist opening them. And when we do, they undeniably influence us. Print catalogs showcase products in context, group items that can be used together, and suggest new uses for familiar items. It’s a great way to upsell, cross-sell, and compare products. Mailing list customers spend an average of 20% more per sale after receiving a catalog.


Cutting Catalogs Means Less Sales: Learning the Hard Way

Faced with the rising cost of print, Land’s End decided to stop mailing catalogs in 2000. The result was a whopping $100 million loss in sales. After they resumed catalog mailings, Land’s End used a pop-up to ask customers if they had seen a catalog before placing their order. 75% said yes.

Ikea aims to be the most successful retailer in the world and they’re well on their way with sales driven by print catalogs full of ideas and personality. Their answer to “why print catalogs?” is as clever as it is funny…

Their attitude is funny, but their catalog business is not. Ikea prints 211 million catalogs worldwide each year.

B2B Sees the Same Results

“Some customers only shop through our website, some only through our catalog…Our best customers use both. When we look at their lifetime customer value, we get a considerable bump.”

That’s from food handling equipment distributor Hubert Co. They report that multichannel marketing—employing a mix of catalogs and e-commerce—boosts sales and inspires customer loyalty.

B2B decision makers are driven by the same motivations driving retail consumers. Show them products specifically targeted to make their workday more productive and you’ll get (and keep) their attention.

Is It Worth the Cost?

“Catalogs remain the highest-quality, most visually-alluring vehicle to capture an audience, present product, create an aspirational lifestyle and generate solid customer loyalty and brand-awareness. No one can argue the distinct advantage catalogs have through photography, paper and printing quality, size, use of models and share of customer attention. And, catalogs have proven to be the most successful driver of web traffic. There’s no better way for a multi-channel marketer to target and acquire customers.”

That’s Andy Ostroy, the Chairman and CEO of direct marketing agency Belardi/Ostroy, breaking down the cost/return ratio on Huffington Post. Powerful stuff.

While they may seem like old-fashioned relics to some, are print catalogs still relevant? You bet. Clearly human nature never goes out of style. Catalogs provide a tactile and visual experience that can’t be equaled by digital media. Catalogs don’t really sell products, they jumpstart the idea process that leads to purchasing decisions. It’s storytelling at its finest.

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Print Trends in 2015

Marty McFly and Doc Brown made some audacious predictions about what life would look like in 2015 in “Back to the Future, Part II.” Well, they came pretty darn close.

2014 was a big year for the digital world: Google’s algorithm changes threw everyone for a loop, Google Glass scared the daylights out of people (while still intriguing us to no end), and of course the introduction of the iPhone 6.

 Print Trends in 2015

As advanced as the digital world has become, the world of print has its own changes coming this year. Here are some print trends to watch for in 2015:

  1. A more strategic approach to print. In the past, print was viewed as a tactical commodity, plain and simple. You order a brochure, poster, or magazine for an event or your office waiting room, and that was it. In 2015, we will see a more strategic approach to print. Using integrated marketing efforts, printed pieces will be only a piece to your marketing strategy. Print will now have tactical AND strategic purpose.
  2. More creative and interactive print pieces. Just like digital technology, print technology is always changing. This New Year, businesses will look at unique spins on print efforts. Think printed pieces that will not only catch the attention of their audience, but pieces so beautiful people will snap a photo of it and share it on their social media accounts.
  3. Digital and print will continue to merge. People are getting busier by the minute. No one has time to deal with five different vendors at a time anymore. In 2015, customers will be looking for one-stop-shops for their marketing efforts. Printing companies will continue to merge with other digital agencies to increase their appeal and value to potential clients.
  4. Content will reign king. Content marketing took off in 2014, and will continue to trump everything in 2015. The message and content on a printed piece will be vital to its success. How to accomplish this? Through strategic, creative, and effective content marketing efforts.
  5. Print sales shift. The approach to selling print will also change in 2015. Sales representatives will have a multi-channel approach to lead generation and moving clients through the sales cycle. Cold calling will continue to diminish as trade shows, social media, networking events, and other sales outlets start to push forward.
  6. 3D printing will continue to advance. 2014 was a giant success for 3D print. Advances in the medical field, fashion industry, and manufacturing were all made possible by 3D printing. 2015 will be no different.

Well there you have it! Print will continue to strive in 2015 but with some pretty big shifts in strategy, creative, and approach.

Keep up with the changing world of print by subscribing to our eNewsletter and following us on social media:

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Here’s to 2015!

Your Integrated Marketing Mix: Combining the Benefits of Digital and Print

No one ever says, ‘A Brochure in the Hand is Worth Two Tweets on the Smartphone,’ but maybe someone should. While people actively interact with tweets and emails in the moment, a well-done brochure or direct mail piece can stay in an office for weeks, months, and even years.

Even though the trend continues towards digital marketing and online media, print marketing remains a viable and valuable part of the marketing mix. A successful marketing campaign reaches a target market with seven touchpoints while effectively communicating a message and monitoring results.

Distributing printed materials allows you to avoid spam folders and literally sit in the hands of your target.


According to Marketing Sherpa,  80% of companies responded that their direct mail budget will remain the same or increase year over year. Overall, companies will increase spending on their content marketing for email, social media and website updates.

Learn more about other companies who’ve seen success with a great content marketing strategy. Download our free Content Marketing eBook Sidedoor Thinking here.

Combining print and digital marketing efforts extend your program’s reach and helps meet your return on investment.

Keeping consistent content across your entire marketing mix is vital. Upcycle marketing activities by integrating cohesive visual templates for print and direct mail that align with your digital marketing activities.

Renewal4Awesome packaging in printed direct mail has grown beyond postcards and self-mailers. There’s a wave of new and innovative formats available, including credit cards, paper wrap and 3-D mailers.

Combining print and digital means limitations no longer apply in print. With so many digital technologies options, you can add links to printed materials for digital targeting, webcasts and videos, PURLs, and QR and other 2D codes. This Renewal by Anderson 3-D campaign introduced its newest product to sales managers by combining print and digital to drive prospects to a webinar.

It’s all about calibrating the content in your marketing mix. IYour integrated marketing mix should be…

Modern technology mixed with old fashion service.


A good message in a memorable package across multiple channels gets you noticed while you bridge the gap between providing the information and closing the sale.