In a world that’s oversaturated with digital advertisements and overpowering media, there’s something simple, yet effective about a printed catalog that connects with people in a profound way. But if you’ve never had experience designing a product catalog, you’re probably wondering where to begin. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

The Benefits of Product Catalogs

Printed product catalogs aren’t nearly as popular today as they were 20 years ago, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may actually allow you to stand out more amidst the competition. Here are some other big benefits of using product catalogs for your business:

Customer preference. Just a few years ago, half of consumers preferred to shop at home using catalogs. While this number has obviously shifted, there’s still a large group of people who enjoy looking at catalogs. Even if it’s just 15 or 20 percent of people, that’s enough to justify producing a catalog.

Tangible factor. There’s something powerful about being able to touch a catalog, turn the pages, and breathe in the crisp smell of freshly printed paper. We’ll call this the “tangible factor.” In a world of digital interactions, this hands-on experience can be profound. 

Future reference. Unlike a web page that comes and goes, a product catalog is permanent. Many people save their catalogs for weeks or months at a time, which allows them to thumb through it at a later date. This continued interaction leads to better long-term conversion rates. 

Quality. When you print a catalog, you’re showing attention to detail. There’s a certain “quality” of expectation associated with a catalog and your efforts are clearly communicated to your customer base. 

Branding. A catalog represents another opportunity to expose people to your branding. When used strategically, it complements the underlying core elements of your business. 

4 Catalog Design Tips

The value your business can generate from a printed catalog depends on how well you design, execute, and distribute the catalog. Thus, it’s important to shift the focus away from the why and toward the how. Let’s explore some tips and best practices:

1. Choose the Right Binding

When it comes to the quality of your catalog, binding is a determining factor. The right binding will contribute to both the look and feel of the physical booklet.

You can go any number of routes, but it’s highly recommended that you try perfect bound book printing. It’s the ideal choice for catalogs with higher page counts and you never have to worry about pages falling out (or the cover losing its ability to close).

2. Hire a Copywriter

You might think graphic design is the only skill needed to develop an effective catalog, but copywriting is equally important. That’s because every product in your catalog needs a proper description. 

“This is a must for every product under every category on your catalog. While writing down the description for the products, make sure that it explains the benefits of buying the product to a potential customer,” entrepreneur Digital Vijay writes. “The description should entail the value proposition as well as the features of the product.”

If you don’t have the in-house skills to develop effective descriptions, it would be wise to outsource the work to a professional copywriter who has experience developing articulate product descriptions. 

3. White Space is Your Friend

Don’t feel like you need to fill every square inch of your catalog with visuals or text. While it’s smart to get the most out of each page, sometimes white space – also known as negative space – is your best friend. Use it freely and let it complement the visual hierarchy of your layout. 

4. Use the Cover for Branding

The cover of your catalog is important for two key reasons:

It’s the very first thing people see when they receive your catalog. Many people use the cover as the determining factor in whether the catalog is worth reading or not. In other words, it’s your first impression.

Secondly, the cover will get more exposure than any other aspect of the catalog. It’s what people will see when a catalog is left lying on a kitchen table, coffee table, or desk.

Your cover needs to be reflective of your brand. Keep this in mind and make sure you think through every detail – including colors, fonts, visuals, and layout.

Putting it All Together

As you design your product catalog, take the time to ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons. This is an investment of time and money and you want to be careful that you aren’t doing it out of obligation. In order for a catalog to generate a positive return, you must be committed to every phase. Good luck!