It's Not Easy Being Big (1241 words)
By Susan J. McIntyre
Company growth brings with it a host of unique problems that can lay you low if you're unprepared.
"I've got a lot of changes," said the cataloger.
I sighed. We'd already been through countless rounds and sent files to the color house very late. And the cataloger still was making changes. Color costs were soaring. I got out my red pen. "Ready for your changes," I said.
"OK," said the cataloger, "in the first sentence, third word, remove the comma before the word 'and' ... "
One nice thing about smaller catalogs is that often they're run by entrepreneurs who are pretty good at distinguishing between things that matter and things that don't.
But as a catalog company grows, actual production of the book often drifts into the hands of people lower down in the organization. At that point, grammatical issues tend to rear their heads.
I don't know why this is so, but people at and below the mid-management level often have a passion for persnickety rules of grammar. You'll know when this happens, because your catalog will start having more proofing rounds, and the changes mostly will involve commas, semicolons, colons and the like. This process may continue deep into the color-house stage, during which costs can spiral upwards.
The rules of grammar are quite flexible (my favorite reference is "American Usage and Style: The Consensus" by Roy Copperud). In advertising copy, the goal is to be clear, not necessarily to follow obscure rules.
The solution: As your catalog program grows, watch for rising color and design costs due to middle managers focusing on wayward grammatical issues.
Custom All the Way
A few years ago, a major marketer created a new mail-order catalog. A smaller firm would've bought off-the-shelfcatalog-management software. But this company's IT department felt the honor of the firm demanded that they reinvent the wheel by writing their own proprietary catalog-management software. (By the way, they knew nothing about cataloging.)