Creating a Winning Catalog
Cataloging is not a beauty contest. Catalogers are in business to make money, so it’s not always the prettiest catalog that gets the best response or sells the most merchandise. While an aesthetically pleasing catalog works for apparel and home furnishing offerings, for some types of merchandise, a less pretty, more product-dense approach works better. The Damark catalog, featuring electronics and computers, is one such example.
Damark focuses on product and price. It uses inexpensive paper instead of thick coated paper. It includes simple product shots instead of fancy spreads. It utilizes short, benefit-driven copy instead of long-winded, story copy. And it works: Damark’s predominantly male customers number 10 million.
Part of Damark’s success must be credited to the way it cleverly employs proven direct mail techniques: the use of dot whacks, “hot” colors, bursts and color blocks to draw the reader’s attention. But what enables Damark to feature the latest computer and electronic products is production technology.
Products drive Production
According to Randy Rudolph, director of creative services at Damark, catalog production must be lightning fast to offer products on the cutting edge. Its bread and butter products are computers and electronics, which are constantly upgraded and enhanced as technology advances. Because the catalog must react to the market, “Each catalog has a short lead time,” says Rudolph.
Damark utilizes the latest in production technology, including computer-to-plate printing, digital photography, the re-use of digital assets and an in-house proofing system.
Damark’s main printer is Banta, and Banta Digital Group handles its digital assets. A whopping 95 percent of its photography is digital, and Damark re-uses 80 percent of its images. It uses Adobe’s portable document format (PDF) workflow, which allows the pages to be built quickly. Design, says Rudolph, “is basically plug and play, using Quark documents.” Everything is done in-house because, according to Rudolph, “No one can do it faster, cheaper, or as good.”