B-to-B Goes 'Plug and Play'
Creating the Layouts
The idea of creating catalog page layouts for its b-to-b catalog customers is a concept United pioneered and brought to the jan/san industry in the late 1990s, notes Lesh. "When we started doing it [as part of the sales process], and everybody really liked it and appreciated it, we realized how important it was." Now, he says, more manufacturers are following United's lead and offer some help with catalog page production.
While United uses an ad agency to help create its own catalog, for its clients it handles things a bit more personally. "We have in-house specialists whom I work closely with to produce usable page layouts," says Lesh. "When customers are ready to say 'yes' and place the products in the catalog, we'll even provide the electronic pages for them."
United's in-house catalog experts are Marketing Development Manager Sheryl Beltz and Graphics Specialist Mike McCord, a veteran of the printing industry who's been with the company for seven years. McCord says his first step in creating a usable catalog page for a United customer is to see that customer's print catalog. "Typically, we get a copy of the cataloger's most recent catalog, if one's available. Then we make the page layout resemble their style as much as possible."
This allows for what McCord refers to as a "plug-and-play" scenario. "When the company looks at how we've placed our products on their catalog pages, they can imagine just plugging that catalog page right into their existing book and going to press."
McCord's key goals as United's designer include: optimizing the page real estate; creating a page that resembles the look and feel of the customer's catalog; and always providing camera-ready artwork.
"We provide the artwork in 300 dpi and with CMYK images. We use QuarkXPpress, which is widely accepted, but also can provide PDF or Adobe Acrobat format files if a cataloger prefers," he says. For copy, McCord tends to stick with "vanilla, out-of-the-box fonts to make translation easier. Sometimes, if we try to pick up too unusual of a font, it gets lost in translation."