Creating Engagement

Lessons from catalogs past

I was looking through the most recent Lands’ End catalog and I realized that I really missed Lee Eisenberg. For those of you who don’t know Mr. Eisenberg (I’ve only heard him speak and had a brief chat at the GCIC years ago.) he was the driving force behind the best creative Lands’ End ever had. hands down, by a lot. His tenure ran from 1999 to 2004. That kind of creative vision is rare. Formerly the editor for Esquire, Mr. Eisenberg made the catalogs fun. Honestly, I looked forward to getting them. Even if I didn’t need anything, even if there wasn’t anything on sale, I looked.

Because there might be something wonderful in there

And there usually was. Copy is his strength. There were delightful headlines, unexpected moments, and just a lot of fun. But it was the creative engagement that got me hooked. He had secret celebrity Santas and we customers got to guess who it was on the cover each year.  There was whimsy and merriment and fun. Then Sears bought Lands’ End and the music stopped. I felt like I had lost a friend. Mr. Eisenberg went on to write NY Times best sellers.

This cover is a great example of creating engagement with customers

Lands’ End Secret Santa Cover was perfect for creating engagement

Are you too busy selling stuff to have fun?

I talk a lot about the importance of giving back to customers. It’s easy to pawn it off and say it’s now the job of social media. It should be everyone’s job; recipes, stories, hints, tips and tricks are all part of it. But if you’re not having fun and you’re only interested in making a sale, then no one is going to want to hang out with you. I loved Hammacher Schlemmer’s amphibious sports car. Their merchandising department didn’t think “Hey this one is going to sell like hot cakes!” It was designed for an extremely limited market, at a super premium price. I was never going to buy one but I LOVED the idea of an amphibious sports car. It was so very James Bond. It made me open that catalog, and every one after that because there just might be something wonderful in there.

Is it the economy, or is it you?

So this holiday season, before we all start saying that the economy isn’t back yet, or that customers are still just looking for discounts, look at your catalogs and be honest—is there something wonderful in there?

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