It really is possible for catalog design costs to occasionally approach zero, without sacrificing sales. And doing so can be a stimulating challenge.
All in the Family
We’d been going over the catalog budget estimate for hours, line by line. I was familiar with how tight-fisted this client was, and I’d already cut his estimate to the bone. But he kept probing for tricks to cut even more.
“Why is design so high? It’s just putting photos and copy on a page. My nephew who knows Quark can do that,” the client said.
“Well, there’s more to it than that. It takes a skilled, experienced catalog designer to create a design that sells well. You do want your catalog to sell well, don’t you?”
“OK, you’ve convinced me,” he shot back. “I’ll pay the designer to design a page. Once my nephew sees it, he can design the rest.”
While the above true story isn’t the best route to create a catalog that sells, taking some design in-house actually can be a good avenue for the budget-conscious cataloger ... if it’s done carefully.
I know a savvy cataloger with a good eye. He’s no designer, but he collects samples of other catalog designs that he feels work well. When it’s time to design his next catalog, he shows his Quark/PhotoShop technician how each idea can be applied to his own catalog’s pages and products. This cataloger must devote a substantial amount of time and thought to the process of working through all the pages with his technician. But his catalog is new, and for the time being, he has more time than money. Plus, the design cycle takes place during his catalog’s slow season when he can devote more time to it. So his current system works well for him.