This is a common question and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on the type of business you run (B2B or B2C) and several other factors including catalog productivity, customer segment, and merchandise. Let’s take a look at some examples.
B2B catalogers typically mail one large annual catalog and supplement with smaller specialty titles throughout the year. The annual catalog serves as a reference catalog. It’s usually perfect bound and has a high page count. A remail of the annual catalog to top customers is a common strategy. I recommend setting up a hold-out test to track which customers are most likely to generate profitable, incremental revenue on a remail. It should not be mailed to everyone.
Catalogers who market to consumers follow a different protocol. Existing buyers should be exposed to a mix of new merchandise and best sellers. If you release new merchandise every month and your AOV and response rates are high, then you can probably justify printing new catalog editions frequently. Be careful about remailing a catalog without making any changes to the pages because your response rates will decrease. While it’s tempting to save money on a remail, it might be more profitable to create a catalog that includes your new merchandise. Catalogers with high response rates or high AOV (or both) tend to have the most success with this strategy.
Catalogs sent exclusively to prospects should showcase the top products in your line. This is not the time to experiment with new and unproven merchandise. Many catalogers create a prospect-specific version that contains predominantly best-sellers. If you have access to a large pool of prospects, you can save money by printing the catalogs at one time and then mailing them to the different prospects throughout the season.
Catalog remails (with a different cover) are popular options for cost-saving purposes. While response rates typically decrease on a remail, a well-managed circulation strategy can ensure that the remail catalog generates incremental and profitable revenue for you.
Finally, if it has been several years since you made any changes to your overall design and layout, it’s probably time for a creative review to jazz things up. Over time, catalogs can look tired and dated. Make sure you have an outside expert give you a fresh perspective.
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