The sun is shining, my front beds are cleaned out and I have settled down with a nice, new seed catalog that has just come in the mail — the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog. It is a delightful pleasure.
In many respects , catalogs are like magazines. The intent is similar in that the maker of the catalog has collected a large amount of information and needs to keep the reader interested enough to keep turning the pages and also create a few items that spark enough attention that you stop and ponder it for a few minutes.
Catalogs do not have the benefit of advertising to support it though. That is because the catalog is the advertisement. Which can be hard. How do you keep a reader interested when all you are trying to do is sell them things?
Catalogs have figured this out a long time ago, but for the benefit oh you readers who have not been through Direct Marketing 101, I am going to phase over to TV to get my point across because the concept is easier to understand there as it is more blatant.
Most TV media is entertainment (even if you are watching PBS or Discover, it is ultimately entertainment. Admit it, you could have picked up a book) supported by advertising. There is a clear line (although TV commercials are getting almost more entertaining than the TV itself, but I digress). But there is television that is not entertainment.
Yeah, I see you out there Mr. and Mrs. Smarty Pants. You are thinking to yourself you know what that is. It is the Snuggie–Slap Chop–OxiClean–Shamwow type TV that I am talking about. And in a way, you are right. This is very blatant extended advertising. But the very best advertising is so good, you are only vaguely Â aware it is advertising. How many of you watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition?Â Watch carefully the next time you see it, because the only difference between the ShamWow guy and Ty Pennington is that I know Ty Pennington’s name. It is certainly not that one is less annoying than the other.
Didn’t know that Extreme Makeover Home Edition was an infomercial? Yeah, I am sure Sears does all of that for free. Yes, it is an infomercial — but it is funny (if you are halfway into a 6-pack), it tugs at the heart strings and, hey, who doesn’t love to see desperate people exploited for money? Oh, don’t look guilty. Face it, it is a car accident with a happy ending and a generous Ford representative standing by. We like that.
So let’s apply what we know to catalogs. Your Park Seed and Gurney’s catalogs are your ShamWow guy. Cheap paper, flat images — but, wait there’s more — buy 2 plants today and you will get a 3rd for only $9.99. There is a need for these catalogs, but they are what they are.
But then you have the seed catalogs that transcend their catalog nature and manage to sell while still being a true pleasure (and *bonus* avoid involving Ty Pennington levels of annoyance). Your Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog is rich paper, stunning plant photography, amusing or wise gardening quotes and fact and filled with botanical rarities that would make any gardener drool.
And so, after enjoying the sun and soil, I can sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy savoring the pages of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog.