How to Design a Superstar Catalog

11 03 2009

Catalogs mean different things to different companies. Online companies might produce a print catalog to give their business a more legitimate feel. Other companies use catalogs as their only selling vehicle and rely on catalog sales alone. Many companies like Victoria’s Secret, IKEA and JCPenney have both a brick-and-mortar store and rely on catalogs to boost sales.

No matter which of these categories your business falls into, one thing is certain: a catalog is designed to sell. A “blah” catalog with boring copy, blurry photos and an unorganized layout is surely doomed. To create a catalog that will make people want to buy just takes some simple design elements that anyone can implement. Here are ways to make your catalog shine like a superstar:

1. Entice readers with exciting copy
Many amateur catalog copy writers think that all it takes to make copy exciting is exclamation points!!! That just isn’t true. (You should never use more than one exclamation point, by the way.)

The best way to excite readers is to promote the benefits of your products, rather than focusing on the features. Which is more exciting: “Twice the cleaning area of a regular carpet cleaner” (feature) or “Clean your carpets in half the time” (benefit)? Use your text to communicate how your product will benefit the reader and use language that will get the reader thinking about how she would use your product.

Another copy tip: talk directly to the reader. Use “you” a lot rather than “our customers.” Using “you” engages readers and creates a relationship between you and the reader.

2. Break up your copy into small chunks
Small paragraphs look much easier to read and are actually easier for people to digest than long paragraphs.

3. Use high quality photos
Photos are the main reason people look through catalogs. Photos are what sell your products; the text is more of a “closer” while a photo is more like a “lead.” Photos draw people’s attention and show your product better than any text can.

Invest in a professional photographer and ensure your photos are clear, crisp and vivid in color. A dull photo can’t sell the most beautiful piece of clothing, but a spectacular photo can sell something as dull as a kitchen chair.

4. Create a consistent layout
If you have 8 product photos on one page, 5 on the next, 10 on the next and so on, that means your photos are probably all different sizes. That makes your catalog look like a mess! Keep photo sizes and placements consistent throughout the catalog. If you want to spotlight a certain product, you can make that photo larger, but keep it in proportion to the others. For instance, if you generally have four photos across the page, one large photo should either be the same size as two photos side-by-side or all four photos side-by-side. Keep things proportional to look neat and consistent.

5. Choose a best-seller for the front cover image
Use your front cover to entice readers to open the catalog. Use one of your best selling products and include any kind of sale info on the cover as well. Be sure to use short words and numbers when possible on the cover—both lead readers to open the catalog in a short time frame.

Once you find a catalog design that works for you, stick with it. Readers like consistency and they like finding categories of goods in certain places. If you always have shoes in the back section, keep them there. It’s comforting for customers to be able to find what they’re looking for right away every time. A comforted customer is a repeat buyer!


How Catalogs Can Turn Your Business Into Enterprise

16 10 2008

A catalog consists of a collection of products that can be grouped into categories by your company. It is often said in the business world that catalogs are the best way to track your sales. So if you start tracking your sales once, it can actually help you build and re-construct better catalogs. Building a catalog according to your business definition is not easy and requires get into a lot of details like understanding how large the text should be and where it should be placed, what products should go where etc. Sure there are other forms of advertising but there are not many which can prove how many sales were made because of that ad. This is where catalogs come in. With catalogs you have a better control over information.

Let’s say you are using catalog printing as the first form of advertising. The products that may be on the back of the catalog may actually sell more than you thought. So for the next print of your catalog, you can place that product accordingly in the front. The rest of the article will be dealing with issues like how to make unique catalogs and selling with them.

There are a few things which can make or break your catalog’s impression on the client. Some points which must be kept in mind while making a catalog apart from the ones already mentioned are as follows:-

• Text: Pay attention to the text you use. Your wording is very important. You might expect a particular set of products to create a certain set of demand, but they may not do as well as you had imagined. So shift your focus to the wording to see if maybe it isn’t what the consumers are looking for or if they are able understand the wording properly.

• Show them what they want to see: You must have complete control over what the viewer is watching. Potential customer’s reaction can be positive only when they are convinced with the product, so attempts must be made to create an illusion that they need the product. If they don’t feel the NEED, they will never buy it. It is a failed attempt if it doesn’t lure them into buying whats inside the catalog.

• The Look: We live in a world where everything is judged by its look, at least for the first time. This is exactly what you need to do. Make sure that the look of your is no less than that of a magazine. The best way to do it is to incorporate a good looking magazines cover with your catalog. Show large lines on the main page with maybe a glimpse of whats inside with flashy prices attached to them, just like on magazines.

• Include HOW –TO’s: It is always a good option to include an article inside which gives an insight on how to use the products or what science is behind it. No need to mention that the main focus remains on what products are being offered, but giving customers a slight hint of what can be done with them can be a great attraction as well. For eg- If you are selling food items or some ingredients, you can put in a couple of recipes which can be used on various occasions. But if your articles don’t have a proper layout, you stand at the risk of confusing your customers.

• Brilliant reminders: Another thing that can cement your company’s image is to send them out as monthly reminders, just like a monthly magazine. Although its not necessary that you send one out every month but try and make it occasion or situation specific. Say, Christmas is close. So release one with Christmas specific things, maybe even throw a special, low-cost Christmas Offer. Highlight certain points around a particular event so your customer thinks twice before saying no altogether. This works great for food and gift companies. There are many magazines around which use the same technique. So pick up one now and start thinking creatively.

These are just some of the things you can start with. Keep experimenting and try to come up with new ideas because catalogs truly can be an asset to your marketing strategies.