Disruption and Possibility

The catalog, ad, pop up, or sign that gets customers’s attention while they are doing something else is disruption. Most sales depend on disruption to start the shopping process. Advertising could arguably be considered the art of disruption. The tools you use to disrupt and the tone and timber of the disruption is the first thing customers notice. Was it loud an annoying? Think of the bouncing ads you see online. They get your attention but probably annoy most viewers. The ads that follow you online after you visit a website, are they a nice reminder, or just creepy?

What kind of disruption works best?

How you disrupt your customers determines whether or not the disruption turns into possibility. When someone is standing in the dark even a tap on the shoulder may cause them to jump because they’re already nervous. If you’re selling medical supplies the way you disrupt customers should be different than if you’re selling dog chew toys. Free is almost a universally accepted interruption, which is why offering free ebooks and downloads is effective. Pop-ups and flashing neon are not universally welcome disruptions. How do you choose which interruption to use? Beauty, discounts, color, fame, fear, and puppies all work. The right one depends on who you are, what you’re selling, who your customer is, and a host of other environmental and social factors. If your company’s brand is seen as a prankster who sells fun toys, you’re interruption can be louder and sillier than if you’re perceived as a trendsetter selling clothing to folks who say atelier instead of workshop.

What is possibility?

Once you’ve created disruption, you need to do something with that disruption. That’s your moment of possibility. You can think of possibility is the moment when you do something to catch someone’s eye and then either: smile, look away, wink, mouth the words “help me”, look up at the ceiling or just start laughing. Each one of these actions will garner a different response from the person watching. In direct marketing it’s easy to forget that there needs to be a disruption, a response to the disruption, AND follow through that creates connection. If you design something that translates as a wink on the cover, you need to have a fun experience waiting inside. If you yell SAVE!!! you better have some deep discounts.

The people who are drawn to direct mail tend to be more on the introverted side, but channel your inner extrovert when you’re brainstorming. Think of the catalog cover as both disruption and possibility and then create the appropriate experience for the customer as they shop. It’s both fun and insanely challenging.

All the best,

Sarah Fletcher

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