Do you remember the huge Sears catalogs that were hundreds of pages long? You don’t see many publications like that around anymore. Catalogs, especially the massive books of years past, have fallen out of vogue now that digital marketing dominates. However, when they’re thoughtfully developed, catalogs are still an excellent way to connect with customers.
Up until about 2015, our friends at FERNO EMS were still using a comprehensive product catalog with exhaustive product descriptions. FERNO offers thousands of products, and the catalog was designed to include as many of them as possible. It came in at around 200 pages.
The FERNO team knew that they needed to modernize their approach to encourage a higher degree of customer engagement with their catalog. They also sought to reduce the cost of producing it and increase the ease of updating it.
“Our main goal was to articulate the value of our products in a more visually appealing document that our customers would want to pick up and read,” said Jason Wender, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing at FERNO.
Significant, strategic changes to the FERNO catalog were in order. To fulfill their goals, FERNO needed a partner with expertise in marketing strategy and print design. With our team’s skill set and previous experience in the Emergency Medical Services industry, we were up to the challenge.
Traditional catalogs focus on product features and benefits, and FERNO’s old approach was no different. The in-depth descriptions and features lists in its catalog presented an overwhelming amount of information. Furthermore, the information did not highlight how FERNO’s innovative products solve the problems faced by EMS professionals and services.
Working alongside the FERNO team, we created a concept for a product guide that would replace the comprehensive catalog. The guide we envisioned had short, introductory descriptions of FERNO’s top products instead of complete information about every product. It featured solutions-focused editorial content alongside conventional feature and benefit information, earning it the title of “Solutions Guide.”
“2 Fish Company came up with a way to blend feature and benefit information with the overall FERNO story,” said Jason Wender. “This approach communicates the value of our solutions and how they satisfy the needs of our customers.”
We designed the Solutions Guide to be used as part of a three-tier literature system that also includes product spec sheets and the FERNO website. Today, FERNO sales representatives use the Solutions Guide to give customers a strong overview of the brand and its top offerings. If clients show interest in specific products, they are provided with in-depth product spec sheets. For more comprehensive information and the full product catalog, customers can be pointed towards the FERNO website. In this way, content is targeted to each customer’s interests.
As we planned the layout of the guide, we worked hard to reduce the page count from several hundred to about 24. For this to be possible, we worked with the FERNO team to choose top products to highlight. We placed each product into one of three “solutions groups”: provider, vehicle, or intelligence. By dividing the products between these groups, we simplified the layout and placed emphasis on how each FERNO product provides a solution that relates to the safety and efficiency of EMS professionals, the safety and performance of EMS vehicles, or the gathering of EMS intelligence.
“Everything that EMS professionals do is focused on the patient,” explained Scott Millen, Managing Partner and Creative Principal at 2 Fish Company. “So, everything FERNO does is focused on providing solutions for EMS professionals and services that help them care for patients more safely and efficiently and at a cost that makes sense. It was important to highlight this in the Solutions Guide.”
In addition to a modernized layout that told a solutions-focused story, FERNO’s Solutions Guide needed to have a unique design that would differentiate the company from its competitors. The FERNO team was in the process of consolidating the company’s brand identity to achieve a unified, unique look. We were asked to refine this identity. We leaned into “shape language,” drawing inspiration from graphic novels to develop designs that attract the eye and propel it forward. With this visual effect, the Solutions Guide took on an exciting, dynamic appearance that fits well within the intense, high-action realm of EMS. The guide was the first real expression of this shape language, but FERNO now employs it across all of its marketing materials.
We coordinated photography for the Solutions Guide that revolved around people rather than just products, focusing on capturing images that involved interaction between patient and provider. This dynamic, emotionally-charged imagery served to cap off the contemporary look of the Guide and further differentiate FERNO from its competitors.
“The modern design showcases our product story and reflects the innovations we’re consistently bringing to the market,” said Jason Wender.
Though a vast departure from FERNO’s previous catalog, the Solutions Guide has been well-received.
“People had to get used to this catalog’s new approach,” said Scott Millen. “But, as they’ve utilized it, they’ve grown to appreciate it. It serves the needs of the market much better than the previous version.”
The solutions-focused layout provides FERNO representatives with a clear guide from which to sell.
“The previous catalog was designed to be dropped off to customers,” said Jason Wender. “The Solutions Guides fits our direct sales model much better. It helps reps understand and communicate the value of our products and how they address our customers’ pain points.”
The guide is easy to modify to accommodate new products, and printing it multiple times a year is not incredibly costly because of its relatively small size. This eliminates the need to produce separate product brochures when new products are released, consolidating the amount of sales materials in rotation and reducing costs. The size of the Solutions Guide also makes it easier to distribute than the previous catalog.
We are proud to have developed a new catalog approach that will serve FERNO and its customers well for a long time to come.
“2 Fish Company immersed themselves in the FERNO product portfolio, and they developed an understanding of the value of our products,” said Jason Wender. “That enabled them to create a document that told a better, truer story about our company and the solutions we provide.”