Catalogs, How to Design and Best Use Of

‐ December 27, 2013

bigstock-Business-man-and-woman-are-con-47956388Catalogs remain an invaluable marketing tool for one reason: they sell products. While the Internet offers the convenience of ordering products online, many people still prefer flipping through catalogs to view product information, photos and key features first before they buy.

The printed catalog adds comfort to the reader and an element of realness. Having a catalog to pass out at trade shows is a great tool to have. Many businesses have customers who are on job sites and the convenience of having something printed at hand gives you an advantage over your competition.

Here are a few tips for creating a product catalog that will help grow your sales:

Turn your catalog into a magazine. The trend of the future will most likely be catalogs that resemble magazines as closely as possible. By including articles and information of interest in you catalog it will increase the perceived value of your catalog and increase its readability and acceptance with the end user.

If you are going to take advantage of the appeal and look of a magazine for your catalog, design your catalog cover with a magazine in mind. Incorporate into it a magazine masthead look. Design this masthead to include your catalog name. “Land’s End” does a good job of this. And don’t forget to include your cutline* under the masthead. This is the line that describes what you are all about, for example ” Pet Owner Today “.

*Cutline: A cutline (at newspapers and some magazines) typically are the words (under the caption, if there is one) describing the photograph or illustration.

Decide how much information you want to include. Catalogs are marketing pieces. The idea is to give enough information so that the reader calls and buys something. There is a balancing point here, ideally your catalog will give just enough information to generate interest in product but not so much that it becomes burdensome to read. In this age of sound bites and bullet points consumers have been conditioned to get information in short bursts.

Know Your Public

Target the catalog to the specific public. A business may have three or four different publics they serve. For example, a roofing company will have residential and commercial accounts. There may be different types of residential customers they serve. The catalog will sell more products if the catalog is targeted to the specific groups. You may need two or three different catalogs. You can put everything in one catalog, but when you do you are adding pages and are increasing your cost and adding to the boredom factor.

Feature your best-selling products in the upper right-hand corner of the catalog’s pages. The eye is naturally drawn here when flipping through a catalog. It is Ok to include the product on the cover of the catalog.banner-brochures

Include an order form. Even customers planning to order online or by phone will use the printed form to organize their items.

“Tell your story” by including background information about your business and the history of your products.

Make Use of Color

Full-color printing grabs more attention than black ink. However, a full-color cover with two-color pages may be enough to set you apart from your competition.

This is also an opportunity to promote happy customers through testimonials. Testimonials work best in the catalog format if they are presented in the problem and solution format. The customer had a problem, they came to you and this is how you solved the problem and saved the day.

Use only quality, high-resolution photos. Blurry images can dissuade customers from purchasing products.

Cross-sell products throughout the catalog. Use call-outs and place companion products together.

Provide a link or phone number to call for additional information about products and pricing. This is also a good way to use a QR code to direct them to a web page for more information.

What is your purpose?

There are purposes for a catalog. Knowing what your purpose is for your catalog will help guide your decisions on what to include and the direction you want to take.

Sometimes it is better to categorize by product type or customer type, this way the catalog will be more targeted to the customer’s needs.

The more targeted and concise your catalog is the more products and services you will sell and the more money you save on printing.

Need help getting started? We’d love to help – just ask!

Mark Hale


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