I receive a catalog about every other month from Uline. I have ordered from them in the past and have had a positive experience, but my orders are small and infrequent. I always order online and rarely flip through the catalog.
My only negative experience is that they keep sending me these huge catalogs. I hate to pitch them – it seems like a waste of paper and resources just to essentially maintain brand awareness (I don't forget them). This is an example of direct mail that is clearly living in the past. It worked before so we will keep doing the same thing — until we are driven into the ground by a smarter competitor.
Wanting more for your print budget
I am a big believer in the power of direct mail so I would not be a proponent of recommending they dump the catalog, but if I was in charge I would want it to work much harder than just delivering name recognition.
A simple idea to infuse brand personality
What if they approached a couple of different magazines (maybe a business magazine) and asked to reprint the magazine inside their catalog? The magazine would receive great exposure (what magazine would not like to tell their advertisers that they are delivering more exposure for free?), and would cost almost nothing for Uline (they could cut a section out of their catalog versus increasing the size).
The recipient would actually open the catalog and the perceived value of the catalog would increase. As the recipient flips through, they would be reminded of what Uline sells and it would deliver a lot more positive brand personality (Uline is weak in brand personality).
Rethinking is important
So what have you been doing the same because it worked in the past? Don't wait until your direct mail stops working. If you are currently utilizing no direct mail, maybe it is time to actually go back to mailing something. In the digital age print is a powerful medium — which is why I probably still receive these monster catalogs.
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