6 Vital Elements You Need to Consider to Produce a Top-Performing Catalog : ThunderWord Copywriting Blog

6 Vital Elements You Need to Consider to Produce a Top-Performing Catalog

by J.W. Abraham on 05/07/15

Recently, the marketing news has been filled with how companies are returning to marketing with catalogs.

So, if you are considering developing a catalog here are some vital elements, beyond just the copywriting, you need to consider to produce a catalog that will sell and be worthy of its cost.

1. Captivating Covers

This list is not necessarily in any order of importance. But, all the rest won't matter if the customer does not open your catalog.

So, be sure to consider your covers carefully...front and back.

Think what would get your customers to open it.

If you have seasonal products, you may want to put something the customer may want for the season.

You could put a great offer on the cover. One they can't refuse.

Maybe show off a product with an interesting action photo to spark emotion with the customer.

Or how about introducing some amazing new product.

Whatever the idea though, remember these two things.

Don't leave your cover to the last minute. Time and time again, I have seen the covers put off until the last minute. Then, everyone is scrambling to put something together. The cover is too important for that. It deserves more attention than any other single page in your catalog.

And second, be sure to include some sort of call to action on the cover. Urge your customers to do something. Maybe go to a specific page where they can get all the details about this product. Or maybe tell them to check out a particular group of products, and tell them what pages they are on.

2. Company Information and Services

This can be one of the most overlooked elements of the catalog.

Space is obviously limited in a catalog and it can be expensive. So it can be hard to give space to anything that is not selling a product.

Yet, customers often need to know something about your company before they will buy that product.

For instance, they need to know if they can trust you. You could devote some space to testimonials to show how you have satisfied other customers. Maybe highlight your terrific money-back guarantee to show your customer they won't risk a thing when they place an order. You can even show a picture of your business to show you are not some fly-by-night operator. And you can shout how long you have been in business.

You can also help develop a bond with your customers by having a letter and photo from the president of your company.

Customers also need to know what services you offer. Can you ship the product overnight? Can you customize it? Do you gift wrap?

They also need to know how to place an order, at the very least like what number to call or what website to visit.

And, here is additional piece of advice.

Don't just squeeze them all into page two or the order form. In addition to placing your messages in these traditional areas, I suggest that you spread a few of the messages around your catalog to make it increase the odds for them to catch your readers' eyes. Like maybe your guarantee. Your customization services. Or shipping services.

So be brave and give up some of that product space for these types of messages.

3. Effective Product Descriptions

This seems so obvious.

But catalog copywriting is a special skill so be sure to take this seriously.

And, as opposed to face to face selling or even over the phone selling, you can't respond to questions in a catalog.

So you need to be sure your copy is accurate, benefit-oriented and complete so the customers can make an easy and informed decision. This can be a tough job when you have a very limited space. But, if you leave out an important feature the customer needs to know, they may look elsewhere.

Also, consider the tone and voice of your descriptions to be sure they match your audience.

And when writing your product descriptions don't fall into the trap of assuming all your customers know something so you don't need to put into the copy. Some customers may not know that piece of information, especially new customers. So be sure your product descriptions are comprehensive enough to answer their questions.

4. Strategic Pagination

For successful catalogs, a lot of thought is put into what goes where in a catalog. The products are not just thrown together haphazardly.

This process is known as pagination. It is a key step in planning a catalog. It deals with the order in which the products are positioned in the catalog and the space given to certain products.

This process can help customers find certain products and it can help promote certain products.

For instance, certain products seem to go together. They maybe complement each other. So, it makes sense to put these categories next to each other. So, when the customers shop for one type of product they can more easily find that other accessory to go with it.

Pagination can also help gain more attention for certain products. You may want to put certain products at the beginning or at the end of the catalog. Or you may want place certain products on the upper right hand of certain pages. This is often thought of as a spot that gets noticed more by customers. Or you may want to give more page space to certain products.

The products that you may want to get more attention may be certain seasonal products, best sellers, and new products.

5. Navigation Tools and Icons

This is partially related to pagination. Helping your customers find what they need is especially important if you have a big catalog.

To me it is so maddening when I waste time shopping for something and I can't find it. Like these huge grocery stores or some big box store. And, I am sure it is the same for many other shoppers.

So, I am a big believer that in producing a catalog you should do whatever you can to make it as easy as possible for the customer to find what they need.

Here are some ways to help your customers navigate your catalog.

Insert a table of contents. I find them useful even in small catalogs.

And, if you have a big catalog, you must include an index. I remember having several pages of index for some of our catalogs.

Also, if you have a big catalog you may want to indicate categories with page headers, footers and colors.

Other techniques are to use icons to call out your new products and bestsellers.

You can use huge display type headlines to point out what is on a page.

And, in the other direction, don't forget those small page references next to your photos to tell customers where to find those the products shown in the photo.

6. Great Design

As with all advertising, great design is vital in the effectiveness of a catalog.

Design helps to spotlight certain products, to showing the products, and even to make your catalog easy to read.

A big task of design regards the layout of the page. And, it is more than just making sure all the pieces of the catalog puzzle fit on the page. Though that can be big job in itself. Layout also involves sure the right products get the space they deserve and certain products are spotlighted so customers will more likely notice them.

Another critical task that falls under the design is the photography. Customers often need to see it before they buy it. So, it is crucial to show your products clearly show the customer understands what they are getting. They need to see what colors products come in. If you sell a kit, they need to see all those components that come with it.

What's more, in-use photos also can be extra helpful in getting the customer to buy. This is especially true for complex products as a photo can help the customer understand how it works. In-use photos can also appeal to certain emotions of the customer that can motivate them to make a purchase.

Finally, design is crucial in making your catalog easy to read. This includes from how the copy and art work together, the typeface used and even the backgrounds behind the type.

A Final Word

Producing an effective catalog can be daunting. There are a lot of elements that need to be considered. But if you follow some of the suggestions I highlighted above you will be on your way to producing one that can play an important part in your sales and marketing strategies.

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