Catalogue Distribution and the Web

by admin on September 1, 2009

This promotion has been going on for more than a year and I'm a bit surprised that more advertisers haven't copied it.

You can order a free catalogue from B&B Electronics, which sells a bunch of specialty electronic gear, like industrial wireless Ethernet servers and such. When it first came out, the earnings per click for a publisher was north of $100, so it was very attractive for people to post the ad. Now it's cooled off considerably, but on the other hand, we are entering the fourth quarter and coming out of a brutal recession.
When you think about it, this approach has several advantages over the old way of catalogue distribution. Old way: Print catalogues, push out catalogues via mailing list containing prospects who may or may not want the catalogue in the first place. New way: Think of the catalogue as a product in itself. Run advertising campaign where people have to request the product.
Conclusion: At first you might conclude that less copies of the catalogue will be printed but after thinking about it a bit, I'm not too sure. For example, B & B is pretty sure that when somebody orders a catalogue, they really want it, and the only reason that somebody really wants a catalogue is to buy something, right? So while the upfront distribution costs of the catalogue are higher, I suspect that the payback is much greater. So in the long run, they may end up printing more catalogues than if they tried distribution the old way.

This looks (to me, anyways) like a service that a printer could integrate into their service offerings. I mean, the service could go something like this: You print the catalogue with us, we put out an ad and affiliate promotion with commission junction. So you can rest assured that every catalogue that goes out, has been requested by somebody and is therefore of higher value than a catalogue sent out via the old distribution model.

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