Think Brand Campaign!

For years, the catalog model has worked. We knew who to mail, when to mail, what to mail — and it worked! It was down-right easy to turn a few knobs and create incremental response. And while the traditional model still works, it’s certainly not as formulaic as it once was. In fact, I think we should challenge the model and perhaps take a lesson from traditional marketing and think about brand campaigns.

What is a brand campaign? My attempt at a short description would read as, “A strategic and methodical series of events or messages delivered across multiple tactics that expresses your brand in a meaningful way. The goal is to engage and excite customers and prospects alike.” The most important part of this description is “engage and excite.” And let’s face it — a mailed catalog or even a well-designed home page does not necessarily achieve this goal.


We can point to several brands that do this well. Think about Dove and their “Real Beauty” campaign. Dove completely understands they are in the business of selling BEAUTY. They also realize there is a gap in what their customers believe is beautiful. Dove created a brand campaign to change opinion and position their brand as a game changer. Brilliant!

A great campaign does not have to expensive. A wonderfully crafted message presented with a compelling video and supported by your catalog and website, could go viral in days. And if a campaign truly delivers the promise of your brand than your efforts should “engage and excite.” Think of a brand campaign as a new method of prospecting. If you can truly capture the heart of your target audience then research proves you are much more likely to sell product on the back-end. AND, if you can strategically encourage online participate (capture emails) then you have a unique opportunity to prospect without purchasing a single name.


There are a few catalog brands that have discovered the power of a brand campaign. One of my favorites is when Duluth Trading ran a campaign during the election of 2012. Duluth ran its own campaign pitting their “Buck Naked” and “Free Range” underwear brands in an online election. It was clever and certainly gained attention.


If you don’t think a campaign is worth the effort then think about “Wonderful Pistachios.” Yes, their commercials are silly and one wonders what a honey badger or Snoop Dog could possibly have in common with a Pistachio. But exponential sales followed.

Maybe it’s time more catalogers think beyond the traditional model and consider a brand campaign; not just a mail campaign!