Focus, Focus, Focus

How can you make a bigger than normal impact with your catalog, showcase your existing products in a new way, and make customers (and prospects) sit up and take notice?

A focused lookbook or, as I call it, a FocusBook.

A FocusBook is typically smaller (either physically smaller or a lower page count) than your regular mailings, and offers customers and prospects an edited selection of products, with the book focused on at least one specific group of buyers. This temporary redefinition of your products can serve many purposes and accomplish many different goals. It can also serve as a great test vehicle that can help define your direction as you move forward.

Here are just a few examples of how a FocusBook can be used for nearly any retailer:

1. If the majority of your products are aimed at women, with a smaller men’s selection, pull out products that would appeal to men and create a Father’s Day FocusBook. Creative can be very masculine, keeping page design simple and straightforward (the way men tend to respond best when shopping).

2. If you have a primarily self-purchase customer, select the products that could be good gift items and create a gifting FocusBook. Headlines and editorial copy can educate the gift buyer as to what your typical customer may need or want.

3. For a home décor business that is furniture-heavy, focus on non-furniture accessories, or a specific category of product (bath accessories, outdoor, textiles, etc.) and create an accessory FocusBook.

4. Jewelry catalogs often scare men away – so think about creating a “jewelry gift guide” FocusBook that helps men choose styles that may appeal to the lucky recipient. Copy can focus on matching styles she owns with new items that complement what she already wears.

5. Your comprehensive selection of apparel and/or shoes can be separated out into a travel FocusBook showcasing items that are appropriate for travel (easy packing, lightweight, wrinkle-free, quick-drying, etc.).

6. A toy retailer might think about a classic toy FocusBook that offers a collection of, for example, handmade wooden toys that might appeal to a more discerning buyer (who also may be willing to spend a little more to get a better quality product). Instead of expecting those customers to filter through 400 products in your catalog to find the 50 classic, handmade, wooden toys, give them their own FocusBook.

Why should you consider a FocusBook? Again, just a few reasons that this could be an interesting option for you:

1. It will allow you to feature products (or product categories) that you suspect could give your sales a bump, without committing to making a major change to your catalog program.

2. It gives you the opportunity to change up the size, shape, paper, or binding style of your catalog.

3. It allows you to test new creative without redesigning your main book.

4. It’s a great opportunity to try out a new creative team or agency on a one-time “test” book.

5. You can test out a different mail/list strategy.

6. You will likely bring in a new set of buyers who have not been drawn to your brand in the past.

Hopefully your mind is swirling right now, considering how your products could be re-shuffled and presented in a new and interesting way. Who isn’t buying your products that you think should be? Do your potential buyers need a more focused selection in order to make that first purchase? Is your “generalist” product mix making it harder for customers to shop? Is your creative getting stale? How could these problems be solved by mailing a FocusBook?

In other words: this is a great way to test, test, test, without making a huge commitment to change anything permanently. And isn’t “testing” what we’re all about in this business?