System builders are usually strong in their own local markets, but rarely do they branch out across the country. With catalogs, they can reach a large percentage of people and boost their business tremendously.

Here are seven ways that they can leverag catalogs to increase their business:


to a large market

U.S. catalog sales are now over $100 billion a year. Approximately two-thirds of all consumers have bought something through mail order in the last 12 months. With the right product a company can go from zero to several million in sales — just through catalogs.

Compete more easily

Catalogs offer a level playing field for the big corporation and the smallest start-up. With few exceptions, products are judged and sell on their merits, not on the reputation of the manufacturer.

All you need is one

Unlike store distribution, manufacturers don’t need a “line” of products. Catalogs evaluate one product at a time. So the one-product company is not at a disadvantage as they are when trying to get shelf space in a large store chain.

Save on packaging

Unlike point-of-purchase sales where the package helps sell the product on the store shelf, the package has no bearing on the sales of an item in a catalog. So you don’t need an expensive 4-color box. In fact, the simpler the packaging the better. A plastic bag is often sufficient.

Keep your risk low

A few catalogs now require a nominal “advertising allowance” to sell your product. However, many catalogs still charge nothing to advertise your product.

Get national exposure

Catalogs offer start-ups and small companies exposure to millions of potential customers. When your product appears in a recognized catalog, your product and your company enjoy instant credibility.

Test the market

Catalogs provide an ideal opportunity to find out how well your product sells. In addition, when you place your product in specific niche catalogs, you can test different segments of the marketplace. Naturally success in catalogs can lead to success in other marketing avenues.

Jim Tilberry is the president of Tilberry Direct Marketing. His business specializes in helping inventors and small companies sell consumer products through mail order catalogs. He can be reached at

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