Catalog printing is one of the best ways to market and sell products to a wide range of consumers and businesses. They are personal representatives of your merchandise and services, so it’s important to make the best quality catalogs possible. This guide will give you catalog design basics, tips, and ideas. We’ll also explain the catalog printing options so that you can make the most of your catalog marketing. Our list of custom printing companies will help you get started on your order. And for more information on the print process, see our general guide to online printing services.
- Catalog Printing & Design
- Catalog Design
- Catalog Design – Tips
- Catalog Printing – Materials
- Catalog Printing – Processes
- Catalog Marketing
Catalog design sounds difficult because there are many pages and all of them need to look good. The effectiveness of the catalog depends on a good flow and layout in the catalog design. An easy way to ensure that the pages look good is to use a catalog template. Online catalog printing services offer templates for free, and there are two types: product templates and design templates. Product templates are downloadable guideline files used with graphic design software or a desktop publishing program. The files are blank except for lines that mark off bleeds, cut lines, and safe zones. If you have some experience with catalog design and have the necessary software, product templates provide excellent guidelines for print materials.
You can also use design templates, which are online design tools that let you create print products directly on the printing company’s website. Design templates take the place of desktop publishing or other software programs. With design templates, you can customize the look of a product with the help of a design toolbar. This toolbar allows you to select the background (pre-designed or your own design), font style and color, and any clip art or images that you want on the print product. The only downside to design templates is that they might not be available for catalogs. Printers typically supply design templates for more common print products like business cards, flyers, and postcards. However, it’s worth checking the print company website, because online design tools can save your project a lot of valuable time and money.
If your company has graphic designers or creates the catalog design itself, it’s easy to send the files to the catalog printing service and have them printed. Just check with the printer to see what types of files are accepted, and if it’s necessary to convert the files you have. For example, many print services require Word files to be converted to PDFs. However, catalog printers almost always accept files from common software like Photoshop, InDesign, QuarkXPress, and Publisher.
The other option for catalog design is to send your photos, product information, and design ideas to the catalog printing company. Have them create a catalog that combines solid graphic design knowledge with your design vision. Most catalog printing services offer this design service for a fee. Alternatively, hire a graphic designer. A professional catalog designer will put together your products, text, and ideas in a way that is guaranteed to look great. You should get either an electronic proof (via e-mail) or a hard copy proof by mail to proofread and double check the layout, text, and color selection. Don’t neglect this step; it’s the most important one to ensure that the product catalog design is exactly how you want it before it goes to press.
Make It Easy
Catalogs must be aesthetically pleasing, but they also must be easy to read, understand, and use. Over-designed catalogs do your customers no good as they peruse your products. To make an effective catalog, keep it simple: don’t use more than three different fonts. More than three will cause the design to look messy. Also make sure that the fonts are easy to read and big enough, since small or fancy fonts can be illegible to many people.
The catalog design should make sense. Group similar products into concept sections by appearance, use, price, or target audience. So, if people like an item in the catalog, similar products and services that might also appeal to them are located nearby. It’s also a smart marketing idea to keep the men, women, and teen items in separate sections.
Make sure ordering information is easy to locate since that is the purpose of your product catalog. Photos should be clearly matched to descriptions with all the necessary information, which may include color, size, model number, item name, item number or SKU, price, and availability. And don’t forget to include the order form! This form should also list clearly other purchase methods, such as ordering by phone or online. Highlight these phone numbers, website addresses, and store locations in the design of the order form.
Know Your Audience
To sell items successfully with catalog marketing, you have to know what your audience wants and what appeals to them. The more you know about them, the better your ability to offer products that interest them. Do some research and think about your ideal consumers. What are their economic situations, ethnic backgrounds, locations, interests, jobs, vacation spots, and favorite stores? Once you know who the target audience is, you can use custom catalog printing to appeal to them with the right design elements (colors, photos, product descriptions, etc). Catalog design must have the audience in mind. And the more you know about that audience, the more effective your product will be.
The photos are the stars of the product catalog design. The photo is what helps the consumer decide whether to purchase an item or not. You want the photo to highlight the best aspects of the product, and the text needs to back up that photo. The photography must be attractive, and it must also highlight the important details of the item. Plus, the photo should illustrate the item’s usefulness or benefit to the consumer.
Products should be featured alone or with a very neutral background. Lots of other details or props will distract viewers from what is most important. If the photo explains the purpose of the product, it can be helpful, like a puppy curled up in a doggie bed or an older dog walking up a car ramp. Household goods can be shown in a comfortable, neutral environment, especially in combination with other home products, while clothes, clearly, should be shown on a model. Hire a professional photographer or do some research on how to take a good photo beforehand. Lastly, check that the catalog printing services accept your type of photo file. It would be a shame to photograph all of the catalog’s items, only to find out that the printer won’t accept them.
People don’t just want to buy products; they want to buy an idea. They want to buy a dream, a lifestyle, an identity, a story. Tell them about the founder, the inventor, or the designer. Offer them the chance to purchase luxury, refinement, elegance and prestige. Explain the history behind an old-fashioned table or the fun-loving, easy-going women who wear this shirt. Make it something people can connect to personally while explaining the details of your product and why it’s worth buying. Design catalogs so that the picture and text combine to draw attention to each product. It’s your last chance to make a pitch before they continue on to the next item, so make each description count.
There are two kinds of paper used to print catalogs: text stock and cover stock. The most common paper used is text stock, a thin paper also used for magazine pages. It is described by weight. The lowest recommendable text paper weight is 70lb stock. This means that a ream (500 sheets) of text paper weighs 70lbs. For higher quality paper, the weight increases to 80lbs or 100lbs per ream. The higher the weight, the better the quality. Heavier paper always has a more luxurious feel in the hand. Text paper comes in three types- glossy (very shiny, like magazine pages), matte (a dull shine), and uncoated (no shine). Glossy paper is excellent for color catalog printing because it shows off the product photos extremely well. Matte also works well for a more elegant presentation of products, since the subtle sheen looks professional and refined. Uncoated paper doesn’t allow for such fine photo detail as the coated papers, but works well for cheap catalog printing when quantity is more important than quality. However, most catalog printing services don’t recommend the uncoated option.
To print catalog covers, there are two options. A self-cover utilizes the same paper stock as the inner pages for the cover, while a plus-cover uses a different type of paper. Plus-covers are printed on cover stock, a heavier, thicker paper than text stock. Cover stock is described by thickness using points, with the most common thicknesses for catalog printing being 10pt and 14pt. Cover stock for catalog covers is offered in glossy stock, which really makes cover photos pop with vibrant colors and detail. 10pt glossy cover stock makes a great cover, but if you want to make a really sophisticated impression with business catalogs for upscale clients, use the thicker, fancier 14pt stock.
The standard catalog printing sizes are, in inches, 8.5 x 5.5, 8.5 x 11, and occasionally 12 x 12. Think about how many products will be featured in the design, and how much space each one needs. If you want to save money, you can reduce the sizes of the photos and text so it can all fit in an 8.5 x 5.5 catalog, or you can spread out the photos a bit more to really show off each item. Whichever size you choose, make sure that each product gets enough attention in the design layout. And, if the pages look crowded, readers will skip over them without taking a good look.
To print catalog orders, one of two printing processes is used. To decide which process is right for you, determine the size of the catalog printing order. Generally, for orders under 250, digital printing is used. Digital printing creates high quality photo results with strong color, crisp edges, and sharp details, and you can get a hard-copy proof by mail to approve. For orders of 250 to 20,000, offset printing is used to print catalogs. Offset printing is the modern version of lithography, and it produces vibrant colors and photographic quality results. It’s the highest quality method for printing catalogs available. However, offset catalog printing has an expensive set-up fee, so it’s not as cost effective for smaller orders. After 250, the more catalog printing products you order, the less they cost per item, so large orders can be done at low prices. Online printers have instant price calculators that you can use to get an estimate of your catalog order’s cost.
Saddle-stitched binding is the easiest, most common binding method for custom catalog printing. Catalogs are held together with two staples that face inwards along the spine, leaving the smooth side of the staple on the outside. It’s cheaper, simple, ecologically friendly and very effective. All online catalog printing services offer this binding, even if they don’t offer any other binding options.
Wire-o binding is a method in which plastic-coated metal wire is spirally threaded through holes along the left-hand side of the catalogs. If you plan to print catalogs with a high page count, wire-o binding will ensure that the catalog lies flat and is easy to flip through.
Perfect binding is used for catalog printing orders of more than 60 pages. The pages are lined up perfectly and glued together on the left hand side to create a hard spine. This keeps pages firmly in places and allows for easy browsing. Most professional catalogs utilize perfect binding.
Please note that if you plan to print catalogs in the landscape orientation and bind them along the shorter side, you may be charged an extra fee for “short side binding.” Talk to the catalog printing company to find out if there is a fee before sending the order in this design format.
When creating a catalog design, create groups of products that specifically pertain to one demographic. Although a clothing catalog may go to the whole household, each member of the family (Mom, Dad, teenager, and child) can be drawn in by their own section. Don’t forget to market gifts: jewelry is popular for women, but it’s also popular as a gift from the boyfriend or husband. You can market to men by creating a gift section near the back. It appeals to women because they can leave it out as a reminder or hint for the husband or boyfriend, and men will be interested in the suggestions and selection advice.
Even if you have a solid consumer base, consider expanding your catalog marketing by purchasing mailing lists that target your audience. These demographic-specific lists can increase your sales and up your brand presence. Pay attention to repeat buyers as well; every time someone purchases an item, send them a new product catalog for future reference. Hand out catalogs at your business location or store, and include them in store bags whenever someone buys a product. Everything you can do to get more print catalogs out to prospective customers is a good investment in your business.
Catalogs entice people not only into purchasing products and services, but also into investigating further. If you include your website address prominently in the catalog design, people will visit your website, where you have unlimited space to show photos and text. Encourage people to go online, where you offer much more detail about the product, both textually and visually.
By now, you should know the ropes of custom catalog printing. Keep our catalog design tips and ideas in mind as you begin this exciting print project.