printed product catalog

7 Elements of a Printed Product Catalog

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

October 3, 2022

A printed product catalog does more than just showcase products. It is a fantastic storytelling medium to engage customers in your brand’s story. While online catalogs are increasingly popular, many of the biggest names in just about every market also utilize a printed product catalog to increase their bottom line.

But a catalog that blandly presents products and prices is not only boring, it also represents a missed opportunity to market your brand story to customers and potential customers through beautiful graphics and photographs, compelling company information, and plenty of product details.

So what exactly should a printed product catalog contain to make it successful and useful for both you and your customers? Before sending your next print catalog to the publisher, let’s look at what you need to do to make it look fantastic, so it will bring in new business.

How Can a Printed Product Catalog Benefit Your Brand?

More than just an order form, printed product catalog serve many purposes outside of product sales. A well-designed and executed printed product catalog will engage your customers with your brand while connecting consumers to all channels of your company’s marketing to produce long-lasting effects on the customer. The main function of a catalog is to sell products, but catalogs can also be excellent tools to help you get to know your customer base better.

Brand Engagement

Through gorgeous photographs and compelling text content, customers can learn about a brand and experience its aesthetic in the pages of a printed product catalog. Companies can use visuals to tell their story and so customers should be able to understand your brand’s identity through the catalog’s layout, style, and text content.

Increased Sales

The purpose of any type of catalog is to increase revenue, but now we have the research to prove that printed product catalogs do just that. Harvard Business Review conducted large-scale research with a luxury brand’s marketing tools to determine if catalogs had any impact on sales.

They found that using email and printed product catalogs combined resulted in 15% higher sales than email marketing alone. The bonus was that the business also added customers to its marketing email lists, further increasing their earning potential from print catalogs.

Combined Marketing Channels

With the proliferation of smart devices, QR codes make synching up all of a business’s marketing channels in one location simple. Print catalogs can provide company store or warehouse locations, social media handles, order and customer service contacts as well as QR code links to online services. This combination of available channels covers all the bases and appeals to every type of customer.

Long-Lasting Effects

Catalogs are often kept by customers long after the initial interest in the products has waned. But unlike a website they must visit, the catalog remains a long-lasting marketing reminder of the products and the brand as a whole. Printed product catalogs designed with evergreen content can even become more of a keepsake than a convenient marketing tool.

 Targets Specific Customers

Marketing experts have access to huge databases allowing businesses to connect with the right kind of customer and find new demographics for their products. Catalogs can be sent to these specific demographics with marketing campaigns that may even include using unique catalogs tailored for specific types of customers.

7 Elements to Include in a Printed Product Catalog

When you are developing your printed product catalog, keep in mind our 7 elements you should include so you can make the most of the time, money, and effort spent creating it and increase sales for your products and brand.

#1 Brand-Focused Content

Consider your brand as the first product you are selling in the catalog. Think about ways to promote what your brand stands for and why your brand matters to your customers and the marketplace. Design the cover, layout, commentary, and product information with the brand’s look and feel as the guiding principle. Your business’s brand identity includes:

  • Company contacts – business name and physical address, emails, phone numbers and social media links
  • Brand details — the logo or design and any slogans or taglines
  • Brand color scheme – the handful of colors used throughout the catalog, logo, and all communications by the brand
  • Font – the consistently used font styles found on the catalog, online presence, and any marketing tools
  • The brand’s “voice” — demonstrating the personality and approach your brand takes at all times (some brands are whimsical while others have a traditional, formal feel, and most brands fall somewhere in between)

#2 High-Quality Visuals

A catalog is a primarily visual experience for the customer, so businesses should plan on using the highest quality visuals they can in it. Pay for high-resolution photographs to showcase your products and highlight your brand in the best light possible. The catalog should present your brand’s look on every page and the use of well-lit and aesthetically pleasing photography is the best way to show your customers the professionalism of the company.

#3 Professional Artwork

Not every company has a professional graphic designer or photographer on the payroll. But when you are creating a lasting product like a printed product catalog, investing in the work of professionals who can assist in making your products and brand look their best is something to consider.

  • Copywriting: Professional copywriters can craft introductions, backstories, product details, and fun additions to your catalog that bring your brand to life. Through their writing and editing process, they can create memorable and meaningful text for your catalog with a professional flair.
  • Cover Design:  Expert designers can help you develop a cover that will snag your customer’s attention while highlighting the best or most important part of your brand. Working with a cover designer can help more customers open the catalog and assist in promoting your brand’s feel on this long-lasting marketing tool.
  • Graphic Designer: With their ability to make beautiful graphics using professional-grade design programs, graphic designers can help take your graphics and catalog layout to the next level.
  • Photography: Professional photographers can lend an artistic eye to your visuals. Using high-quality lenses, they can create photographs of at least 300 dpi to create stunning pictures for your catalog.

#4 User-Friendly Layouts

Customers should be able to easily find what they are looking for in your print catalog. First, make sure the cover tells the customer exactly what kind of catalog it is and who the customer is as well (and using a cover designer can help with this challenging task). Next, consider using a Table of Contents or an Index of products to help them find what they want.

In addition, grouping similar products together is helpful, and putting products used together close to each other in the catalog also works well. Place ordering information in an obvious location and also include helpful phone numbers, email addresses, or internet addresses in the same location so customers can place an order easily. Finally, make sure that your catalog does have some white space to keep the pages from appearing too cluttered and to draw attention to the products and information in the catalog.

#5 Expanded Purchase Options

Include multiple ways for customers to order products: QR codes with links to online ordering systems, phone numbers to call, online web addresses or even addresses for physical locations where products can be purchased. If you accept different types of payments, be sure to include those details clearly.

#6 Targeted Catalogs

Even though it may be tempting to always include every product in your catalog, consider developing targeted catalogs instead.

  • Split Catalogs: Divide your merchandise into smaller catalogs to target specific demographics, seasonal merchandise, or other divisions of your products that make sense in your marketplace. Send them out when they work the best for your customers and reap the benefits of ongoing brand marketing with these smaller catalogs.
  • Online Versions: Put an identical version of your catalog online so customers can quickly find products they have already seen in the physical printed product catalog when visiting your online store.

#7 Methods to Track Your Efforts

Printed product catalogs should include multiple ways to learn about your customers. Utilize tracking codes on catalogs to learn which customers are buying from you. Include consumer identifiers on catalogs to help you see which catalogs are the most successful and where your consumers are buying your products.

Include targeted promotional codes to increase sales, encourage repeat customers, and learn about your customers buying habits. And place offers to connect to email or catalog marketing on catalogs to loop in even more potential customers to your valuable email marketing list to help you grow sales and learn more about the kind of customers your products attract.

Working with the Right Printer

Engage the services of a trusted printer like Publishing Xpress to make sure that your printed product catalog looks great, so you can increase your business’s revenue with increased sales and a growing customer base. And with Publishing Xpress’s in-house expert designers to help you create a winning cover, your catalog will wow your shoppers from the minute they snag it from their mailbox.

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