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For direct mail marketers, there are a bevy of mailer options: regular mailers, charity pieces, newsletters and even postcards. But one of the most attractive direct mail pieces to send customers is a catalog, especially if you're an apparel or home furnishings retailer. Catalogs do a number of things to engage customers – the number one task of every marketer – and their size betters their probability of getting read. Catalogs present customers with scores of images to keep interested and best of all, readers flip through pages and keep themselves engaged. However, just like any direct marketing tactic, there are some basic rules to follow when sending out catalogs:

Font: Catalogs depend a lot on images, but copy still remains the crux of the marketing message. After looking at a photo, customers will almost always read the product description that informs them of price, quantity and other factors like sizes and available colors. Considering this, it's essential customers can actually read the description – if you're using font that's too small, customers will get frustrated. A rule of thumb is to never use anything smaller than 9-point font.

Copy/Background: Another rule is to avoid using reverse copy, which is setting copy against a clashing background, like white copy against a black background. Some marketers may think it pops or attracts attention, but in reality it's a visual roadblock for many readers. Black copy on a white background is standard and acceptable, but the reverse just doesn't work. Also, refrain from pairing similar font and background colors, like grey text against a navy blue background or photo.

Order form: The point of the catalog, like any direct mail piece, is to sell your product. To bring in sales, marketers need to make it easy and quick for customers to make purchases. The almighty rule of the catalog is to include an order form, because no catalog is complete without it. It works on two levels: One, it eliminates needless steps for the customer, and two, instead of tearing out and archiving pages of the magazine, customers can use an organized order form to mark down their desired products and mail it back in one simple and seamless process.

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