How To Create A Printed Catalog That Makes Sales

Even in an increasingly digital world, printed catalogs remain one of the most popular ways to sell a physical product. Not only are they tactile and easy-to-use, but they can also be integrated into a multichannel marketing strategy.

A well designed and printed catalog can also quickly reach out to thousands of customers who have never visited your physical or online store. For anyone thinking of creating one for the first time, here is a guide on how to create a printed catalog that makes sales.

  1. Creating the structure of a print catalog

Flick through any number of print catalogs and you’ll notice the common features that exist in each one. These are the fundamentals that need to be included in any successful catalog that will support sales of your products. While the covers, content indexes and product pages are always required, the need to use all of the below will vary depending on the type of catalog you are creating:

  • Front and back cover
  • Thumb index
  • A table of contents detailing the various sections of the catalog
  • Section separators so readers can quickly go to the relevant page
  • Product pages with descriptions
  • Paid advertising from other businesses looking for exposure
  1. Collecting product information

One of the most crucial parts of creating a catalog is the product information. Along with imagery, this will tell customers everything they need to know about the items. Gather together the following product information to be included in the catalog:

  • Product name
  • SKU codes or item reference/number
  • Product category/subcategory
  • Description of the item
  • Product features
  • Price ranges (individual/bulk)
  • Barcodes

This information will either exist in the previous version of the catalog, on internal databases or ERP systems, or on the company website. The data for each one will need to be verified and checked thoroughly to ensure it is up-to-date and relevant for use.

  1. Sourcing images

The imagery is going to be the first thing that catches the customer’s eyes when looking at the catalog. While all images being used will have to be high quality (at least 300 DPI), they also need to clearly portray the product features. An image with high enough resolution for printing is no good if the actual photograph is poorly lit, out of focus, or badly positioned.

  1. Organising the catalog layout

With all the product information and images gathered together, you can start to construct the layout of the catalog. This is where a graphic designer can make sense of the various elements, so it all begins to take shape into a readable format.

You may already employ a graphic designer who can do this for you. If not, outsourcing to a freelancer or agency is a good alternative. A first edition, or redesign, of the catalog, will require more work and time from the designer. Provided you are using the same format, new editions can be created using the existing template, which will shorten the entire process.

The designer will either use Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to create the various catalog drafts. From here you can start to run checks on the various details to ensure they are ready for print. Also, take into consideration the number of pages you will want to create. There has to be enough to provide all the information, but not too many to make it a chore to look at. The size of the catalog will also impact on the print costs.

  1. Style tips

Keeping up with current style trends will help you connect more easily with your customers. Some of the more popular design styles to consider include:

  • Strong colours

Use of bold, vibrant and experimental colours catch the eye and evoke more curiosity about the contents inside.

  • Still life images

Products that are stylishly arranged in a ‘real-life’ environment can be more appealing than simply using a plain background.

  • Decorative photos

Adding illustration or design elements to the photos can add a sense of fun and visual appeal standard images do not offer.

  • Photos on location

Seeing the product in use on location in culturally varied settings like beaches or near landmarks creates a whole new sense of appeal to the product.

  1. Find the right print company

To ensure the best possible print quality, you need to find the right company to work with. Once the files are delivered as required, you want to be able to trust they will complete the job and deliver the catalogs on time. Do consider the catalog printing cost before you select the printing company.

  1. Quality checks

Ensure all the images in the catalog have a 300 DPI image resolution. This is the minimum standard required to ensure the images are printed clearly on the paper stock. The designer must include a 1/8″ bleed area and a 1/4″ quiet area. Without these in place, images close to, or running off the page are in danger of being cut off after printing.

  1. Deliver the correct layout

Working with a print company is a partnership that requires both of you to work closely together. When sending the PDF files to the printer, check the pages are in the right order and in a single file. This will make it easier for them to manage and complete the job efficiently. Experienced printers like Maxim can work to tight deadlines, but from experience, we know it is far less stressful for our clients if ample time is allowed for delivery. The more time you provide, the more time you have to check the content to alter any errors. Also, take distribution into consideration. If you are able to plan ahead and receive the printed catalogs earlier, sending them out becomes much easier.

Print catalogs are an essential part of any marketing mix

Before digital marketing rose to prominence, brands could rely solely on print catalogs to sell their products. In order to make significant sales today, they should be integrated into a wider marketing plan. The use of AR or QR codes alongside product descriptions ties together your website and landing pages with your printed catalogs. It enables customers to simply scan the page and instantly place an order on their mobile device. The easier you make the ordering process, the better it will be for your business. Catalogs not only tell a product story, but they inspire customers to invest in your brand, ultimately driving sales both on and offline.

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