Creating a Happy Catalog

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a happiness researcher, found 12 things that happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. As I read down the list it occurred to me that all of these things could be applied to cataloging. See if you agree.

Express gratitude. When was the last time you said “Thank you!” to your customers? Have you given them anything when they order from you? Here are three thank you’s I have gotten for ordering that really stand out. The Supplies Guys even sent me candy and post it notes. I love them now.

Vera Bradley Thank you note Thank you note from The Supplies Guys Ballard Designs Thank you envelope

Cultivate optimism.
Is your catalog upbeat? I love going through catalogs that tell me I can have a nicer home, an easier life, a well behaved pet. Even if I secretly don’t believe them, it makes me happy to be shined on. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Avoid over-thinking and social comparison.
Are you talking about your competition? Are you getting stuck in super-double-whammy marketing schemes that bring to mind “but wait there’s more… Now how much would you pay?” Don’t get caught up in hype. What do you do well? What can you offer your customers? Simple and direct win every time.

Practice acts of kindness.
When catalogs help others through outreach, grants, environmental programs, and charity work, it shows heart. Everyone wants to be with a tribe that does good work, everyone wants to hang with good people. Practice acts of kindness and share it with your customers.

Nurture social relationships.
Happy people have strong social ties. Happy catalogs have a strong social plan. Get out there and meet your customers. Friend them, tweet them, connect with them and enjoy their company.

Develop strategies for coping.
Bad things will happen, things you can’t control, like the government shutting down or  terrorists doing something awful in the middle of your mailing curve. Have a plan B in place so that you don’t have to panic.

Learn to forgive.
I have heard people say “I hate our customer.” Negative feelings create more negative feelings. If you find yourself angry at your customer for: not responding, not liking a product, returning merchandise, being rude on the phone, or anything else—forgive them. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that, in the words of L.L. Bean “The customer is not an interruption in our work; he Is the purpose of It.”

Increase flow experiences.
Flow experiences in a catalog come when customers don’t get hung up on anything. The merchandise is appealing and in their price range. The design is easy to shop and intuitive. Copy has the right voice and gets to the benefits. There is no reason not to buy and customers become fully engaged in the shopping experience.

Savor life’s joys.
Savor the joys of your customers. Can you make the experience of getting a package from your company a little better? Can you send a gift, card, or coupon to customers on their birthday? How about the anniversary of the first time they shopped with you? What are the joyful moments in your customers’ lives that you can celebrate with them?

Commit to your goals.
What goals can you set and commit to? Offering the highest quality? Providing the greatest selection? Having the best in stock position? Giving superb customer service? Commit to your customers 100% and they will reward you.

Practice spirituality.
Practicing spirituality brings us closer to each other and puts everyday problems in perspective. It doesn’t matter which religion you follow, just having a connection to a higher power will make you happier. Not all catalogs can share their spirituality with customers but sometimes the foundations we are built on don’t have to be visible to others. Catalogs can share their moral compass through charity, outreach and just by doing the right thing for customers. Stand for something, honor agreements and promises, and help where you can.

Take care of your body.
Look at your catalog, is it healthy? Wonderful? Interesting? Compelling? Is your mailing plan in shape? Does your marketing plan have endurance? Have you cut back so much on design, photography, copy, paper, circulation and marketing that it is making your catalog sick? Is your website fresh and easy to use? Is your SEO up to date? Are you using the right key words. Do you have interesting content?

Having a happy catalog will attract customers. It will also make the people who work on that catalog happier, because happiness is contagious. (:

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The Catalog Blog covers opinions and information on all things catalog. Have something to add? Leave a comment below. Catalog University is devoted to helping you get ahead in the fun and fascinating world of catalogs. If you want even more information about cataloging, including FREE Pub Talks, be sure to sign up for the Cat-U mailing list. We will never share your name with 3rd parties.

Sarah Fletcher
President/Creative Director Catalog Design Studios Inc.
Co-Founder Catalog University