What can you do with 16 more pages?

It’s official, postage is going up about 2.5% for catalogs—bummer. BUT the weight threshold (piece pound break) for weight based postage on catalogs has been raised from 3.3 oz to 4 oz. (Translation for newbies: If your catalog weighed over 3.3 oz. the USPS charged extra to mail it. The new limit is 4 oz.) Depending on how many pages you mail, that may be a very nice little gift.

How many pages is that?

About 4 folios or 16 pages. Depending on the basis weight of the paper you are using now 3.3 oz is probably somewhere between 64 and 72 pages. If you are mailing a 24 or 36 page catalog on 28 lb. stock, you can stop reading here, or be a catalog geek and hang in till the end. If you are already up against the old 3.3 oz wall, you now have more pages to play with for the same postage.

Should you add pages?

Always run the numbers first but more pages translates to more products and that usually means more sales. That said, smaller catalogs are the norm for most mailers since the great recession. With the shorter attention spans of today’s customers adding pages may not make sense. Test it. Add a couple of folios with extra product to the center of the book and run the numbers. You can do it as a product guide, a shopping guide, a teaser for other catalogs or merchandise categories.  If you have in-house creative you’re only paying for paper and printing.

Should you upgrade your paper stock? 

If you are a premium, or super premium brand that may be a really good use of your .7 oz. Heavier covers are an easy way to test if customers are going to respond to better paper without going all in. Customers do notice paper, though not the way they notice photography or design. Yup, it’s a brand thing.

What can you do with 16 pages?

Are there products that could use more space? Are there branding stories you could add? Are there products that were good enough to go in the catalog, but got cut because of space issues? Do you have compelling section starts? Is there something you could do to make the customer’s shopping experience better? Is there something you can do to make the catalog more valuable and worth keeping? Even if you don’t use the extra weight, asking your teams “What would you do with 16 more pages?” is a great exercise.

The best part

For me the best part of this is that the USPS is listening to catalogers and rethinking what they can do for us. It’s only .7 oz, but hey, it’s a start.

All the best,

Sarah Fletcher

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