Magalog? What the heck is a magalog?

May 27, 2010 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Copywriting Tips 

magalog sampleAsk a roomful of copywriters to describe a brochure, sales letter, or web page, and most will give you a pretty good definition.

But ask about a magalog, and you’ll get a lot of blank stares.

In my Direct Marketing Glossary, I provide a simple definition:

Magalog — Direct mail sales format that looks like a magazine or catalog.

That’s accurate, but maybe not as helpful as it could be if you’re a copywriter and your boss or client asks you to write one.

So let’s take a look at an actual magalog sample and see if we can get a better idea about what it is. When you click that link, you’ll open a PDF in a separate window. Note: The order form and a few photos are missing because I couldn’t get a final sample. But you’ll get the idea.

This is a magalog I created for Rodale Organic Gardening selling a book with tips on, obviously, organic gardening.

Yes, I’m a gardener. I’m primarily interested in flowers, but I do have a few tomato plants in the corner of my back yard. Anyway …

The format has features common to magazines and catalogs, thus the name “magalog.” The name can be confusing, though, because while a catalog features a variety of products, magalogs usually offer just one product. So the “maga” part is right, but the “log” part is a bit off.

Magalogs generally have features that may include:

  • The shape of a magazine, from full size down to “Reader’s Digest” size.
  • Full-color printing.
  • Page count of 16, 20, 24, 28, or 32 pages (printers create page sets in multiples of 4).
  • Front and back cover with headlines, offers, and sometimes page numbers that tease the contents.
  • Table of contents near the front.
  • Letter inside the front cover explaining the offer.
  • Lots and lots of copy on the remaining pages in the form of headlines, running text, sidebars, bullet lists, charts, photo captions, and so on.
  • Repeated references to the offer and call to action on every page spread.
  • Plenty of photos and illustrations, depending on the product.
  • Order form or reply form near the back, or sometimes a bound-in reply card.

This format is ideal for “information” products, such as books and newsletters, and for products that require a lot of explanation, such as health supplements or financial services.

It’s a reader format, so it’s written and designed to be read in-depth or at least scanned carefully. It’s a common misconception that people don’t like to read these days. In fact, when a format like this is delivered to those who are interested in the product, they will often read voraciously.

And as any experienced copywriter knows, the more more you tell, the more you sell.

If you’re curious about the magalog format and want to delve a little deeper, my designer friend Mike Klassen (The Magalog Guy) has some great information on his website.

You also might want to check out Craig Huey’s site for information on magalogs, bookalogs, and three-dimensional packages.

Just as a final note, magalogs are wicked fun to write. And the pay is usually pretty good because they’re copy-driven formats. If you get a chance to write one, set aside plenty of time to do your research because you can’t get away with fluff. You must have a lot to say and every bit of it must be specific and interesting.

No related posts.

>>> Subscribe to blog by RSS or E-mail

Smart Comments

3 Comments on Magalog? What the heck is a magalog?

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tony Mack, John Domzalski. John Domzalski said: Magalog? What the heck is a magalog?: Ask a roomful of copywriters to describe a brochure, sales letter, or … http://tinyurl.com/2u44fzf [...]

    [...] Magalog? What the heck is a magalog? Published: May 27, 2010 Source: Pro Copy Tips Ask a roomful of copywriters to describe a brochure, sales letter, or web page, and most will give you a pretty good definition. But ask about a magalog, and you’ll get a lot of blank stares. In my Direct Mar… [...]

    [...] Everything you ever wanted to know about magalogs over at Dean Rieck’s in “Magalog? What the heck is a magalog?” [...]