Setting out the Catalogue

There are many commercial books on catalogue layout and their wisdom applies to charities as much as it does to commercial firms.
The cover sets the tone of the catalogue. It can increase sales of the best items and and attract people inside with an image of somthing you know they will like. Best-selling items should be on the cover, not those the charity is desperate to shift.
The first pages should talk to the customers by setting out the charitity’s policy and philosophy of trading. It lets customers know the charity cares about them.
A celebrity endorsement can help so long as it actually encourages people to buy rather than just saying that the charity is a worthy cause. It is quite acceptable to draft the letter for the celebrity and allow them to add a personal note or change something if they wish. Some will rewrite the draft and improve it greatly, others will just sign the draft.
Customers need colour images, as they will want to ensure that the items match others they have and are suitble for their homes. Key points and important details must be added to the picture. A simple, clear layout can still show many items per page, but they must all be clearly visible. Customers want to see exactly what they are buying because they cannot call in at a shop, see and handle the goods first.
People are buying the benfit of having the product, not the product itself. Describing products in those terms increases sales.
Items need to be numbered, priced and described accurately.
Slow-moving items can be marked down and sold off to ensure good turnover. They should not be allowed to clog up the catalogue as it needs to be kept fresh and interesting. Local groups can be used to sell off items cheaply to prevent them from taking up vauable selling space in the catalogue.
It is worth trying out what everyone else does. They may be doing it because it works! This includes sending out the catalogue well before Chritmas and mentioning it in the next newsletter. Two issues can be created with different covers but the same contents – one for summer and one for Christmas.
A Spring catalogue should not be tried until the Christmas market has been established as 85% of sales are said to be pre-Christmas.
Celebrity endorsements sell products and add glamour to the organisation.
A clear and simple order form must be provided. A FREEPOST address saves customers finding an envelope and a stamp. The catalogue can be inserted into a newsletter to avoid clashing with appeals and saving on postage. This should be tested to see if a separate mailing may be more profitable. However there are cost-free ways of increasing turnover
Giving good service, conducting market research and going outside the membership are all key elements of making a catalogue succeed.