10 More Key Steps to On-Time/On-Budget Catalog Production
In my print story, I outlined for you what I believe to be the 17 most important and crucial steps in the catalog production process. But there are 10 others that also are worth seriously considering.
1. Define your editorial position and the entire tone of your catalog copy by your brand strategy. If it’s low price, you’ll be screaming sale or value at every opportunity; but if it’s quality, you’ll focus on product benefits and your tone will be more authoritative and/or educational.
2. Prepare product information sheets for all new products. These sheets will be the bible used by copy and design to properly position each product to sell. Since benefit copy sells, be sure to describe the benefits of each product, not just its features.
3. Conduct a copy and presentation review of any continuing products to determine whether changes might enhance customer response. Sometimes a product fits the brand strategy perfectly and the merchandise team has confidence in it, but it simply didn’t sell its first time out.
Here’s an instance in which you have to let your merchandise instincts overrule the data and continue with the product for at least another season. Rather than simply reprinting the same presentation, however, search for new ways to describe or display the product to enhance its benefits and increase its sales potential.
4. Whenever possible, have the design group present page concepts at this meeting. Even if you aren’t considering a complete makeover, continue to evolve the catalog, and this is a perfect opportunity for both management and merchandising to comment on the early concepts.
5. Design the order form to make ordering easier. Although fewer and fewer order forms actually are mailed with orders, many customers still use the form to prepare their order prior to phoning or ordering online. For this reason, although the expense of a bind-in order form is hard to justify today, it’s still worthwhile to include an order form with each catalog.
6. Finalize pricing, sizing, item numbers, etc., at the same time as the revised manuscript copy because the first draft of composed pages is about to begin, and costs and mistakes escalate when pages are composed with a lot of missing information.
7. Make final photo picks the last element before beginning the page composition process.
8. Examine the initial proofs of all the images early — whether you’re using a hard proofing method or soft — while the composed pages still are being constructed. This will alert you to any problems while there is still time to fix them at an efficient cost.
9. Complete any versioning of the catalog for tracking purposes, testing or segmentation, after the initial version. If you make the versions prior to sign-off on the initial version, there’s greater opportunity for mistakes.
10. Examine the composed match proof that’ll be used on press. This is used to catch any final color or type issues before pages are printed. But beware! It’s very expensive to make changes at this stage.
Bill Licata is president of LCH Direct Inc., a direct marketing agency specializing in catalogs and e-commerce. You can reach him at (505) 989-9451 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.