What are Magalogs?
As you’ve probably guessed, the word magalog is traditionally considered to be a cross between magazine and catalog. I say traditionally because the way words and names evolve over time, I have no doubt that someone has another origin for the word. But for now, magalog + catalog is good enough for us in the realm of direct marketing. (Note that some people use the word catazine instead of magalog.)
Magalogs – Sales Letter on Steroids
Magalogs are basically a sales letter on steroids. Like many sales letters, magalogs will start with a “big idea” or “promise” headline, include graphics and charts, some sidebars and an order form to go along with the main body copy. But with the magalog, we’re usually creating something with a stronger visual appeal, much like you’d notice in a magazine or even a high-end newsletter.
With magalogs, the sky’s the limit…or more accurately, the budget is the limit.
Magalogs must be appealing to read. Obviously, there will be sales copy, but a great copywriter is going to find nuggets of information to sprinkle throughout the magalog; info that people might actually want to share with other people.
Magalogs can sell a single product or service, or many. Most usually focus on a single product, with the copy focused on creating the desire and supporting the claims that are being made.
Magalogs have no set size or page count, although 8.5″ x 11″ is a common size and 12-16 pages is a common page count. Once you start significantly changing those variables, the discussion moves into things like slim jims and bookalogs.
Click to see Magalog Examples by Tommy Hilfiger
What is a Slim Jim?
If you do a search on slim jim, you’re hit with food and locksmith-related entries. For our purposes, though, a slim jim is part of the magalog family.
Where a magalog is traditionally about 8.5 x 11 inches, a slim jim is around 5.5 x 10 inches. So the primary difference is that a slim jim is narrower than a magalog and can be shorter in height. Printing and mailing costs can affect the size and sometimes a change in the size can have a significant impact on costs. Talk to a print broker if you don’t have a printer you trust looking out for you.
Because a slim jim is smaller than a magalog in physical size, it’s often larger in terms of page count. The smallest slim jim I’ve seen was 24 pages. That doesn’t mean a slim jim can’t have fewer pages. But if a company is wanting to test a magalog against a slim jim, obviously the smaller size of the slim jim will require more pages to hold the same amount of copy.
So Why Use a Slim Jim?
- It gives you a different look. Don’t forget that part of the goal of any marketing piece is to stand out and be read. The slim jim format is different in size from magazines and traditional first-class mail. So it stands out.
- There can be a benefit in terms of printing and mailing compared to a typical magalog. There can be other variables involved in those costs. But it’s worth keeping that in mind when considering a magalog vs. a slim jim.
While it would be the designer’s challenge and not yours, you should be aware of how a slim jim affects order forms and longer sidebars. The challenge for you or your copywriter will be to keep the content to a minimum on the order form.
What is a Bookalog?
A bookalog is a variation of a magalog. As you might guess from the name, the bookalog is much like a small, paperback book. As with magalogs, bookalog sizes vary, but 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches is pretty common. For page count, it can be all over the map. I’ve seen one that was over 70 pages. And like magalogs, bookalogs tend to be done in page increments of four… 24, 28, 32, 36, etc.
The style can vary as well. Some are just as colorful as a traditional magalog. Others are just like a fiction or non-fiction book with no graphics and a single, black color for the text. For the binding, bookalogs can be saddle-stitched (stapled in the spine) or perfect-bound which is the same as the paperback books you buy at the bookstore. The page count will help determine what type of binding you’ll need.
Bookalog – Another Way to Stand Out
Like others formats in the magalog family, bookalogs have their place. Because bookalogs tend to have more pages, they have a bit more weight which helps them stand out in the pile of mail you get each day. Simply the fact that a bookalog looks different from the rest of your mail gives it an extra glance when other marketing mail in the pile is being ignored.
There can also be a perception of higher value with a bookalog because, generally speaking, we place a higher value on books. And, it’s not every day someone is marketing to you in the mail through a book. Again, it stands out.
Some people use the bookalog format for long copy that’s currently converting well for them online. Realizing that not everyone is online or will stumble across them online, they want to reach “offline” prospects as well.
If the copy has been working well as a traditional printed sales letter, you might try the bookalog format as a test. If the style is remaining basically the same as the sales letter, and you’re not adding lots of new graphics or colors, the bookalog can be a more affordable format to test compared to a traditional magalog, at least in terms of the design cost.
The bookalog format could be a mini book filled with business or success-building ideas, but with a strong sales component leading people to sign-up for those workshops or seminars. A bookalog might also be used to provide multiple samples of books that a company markets.
What is an Issuelog?
We’ll keep this short as you already know most of what you need to know about the magalog family. An issuelog is simply a magalog that looks more like an issue of a newsletter than a magazine.
As you might expect, one use of an issuelog is to promote subscriptions to high-end newsletters.
An issuelog may even have more of a newspaper feel in terms of using less expensive paper. That’s usually different from a magalog where, when possible and appropriate, you want to use better-quality paper so colors and graphics look as sharp as possible.