5 Killer Mistakes to Avoid with Your Promotional Products Catalog

There are good catalogs, and then there are bad. We’ve been in the promotional products industry for a long time and we’ve seen the best of the best, and believe us when we say we’ve seen the worst. 

Just turn the clocks back to the early 90s and try not to cringe while looking at some of the outrageous photography and copy that was being put into circulation. We’re sure grateful that it’s 2020 and those days are behind all of us. 

That being said, there are still plenty of suppliers who are living like it’s 1999, delivering catalogs that distributors refuse to show their customers. That’s right, distributors want to showcase the catalogs that make them look good—makes sense, right?

So instead of falling victim like some, we’re here to bring you the 5 Catalog Killers you can avoid when crafting up your next digital catalog. Let’s get into it…

Poor design decisions 

So many businesses overcomplicate their catalog and forget who they’re marketing toward. Distributors and their customers want simplicity. They aren’t looking for collages of product photography slammed between columns of copy, they crave ease of use. 

That includes the cover—make sure that you put time and thought into the cover of your catalog. It is the first thing a potential customer lays their eyes on, and the wrong cover could prevent them from even looking inside. 

Similarly, don’t limit yourself to one medium for your catalog. With digital becoming the norm for most businesses and a growing, tech-savvy demographic, it’s imperative to create a catalog suited for digital and print. This means carefully choosing your catalog dimensions, font sizes, and imagery based on how it will look in digital and print. 

Bland photography

A catalog is your sales pitch. Nobody wants to listen to a boring sales pitch, and nobody wants to look at a catalog with boring photography. Sticking to your standard product shots and throwing them haphazardly throughout your catalog will not cut it anymore. 

Lifestyle photography and video is the answer to delivering a catalog worth buying from. Using images of your products in real-life settings with regular people allows customers to see themselves and their brand in the product—plus it adds aesthetic to your overall catalog design. 

Using that in tandem with dynamic video is a recipe for a hot-selling catalog. Don’t believe us? Businesses that use video see a 20-30% higher conversion rate—that’s some serious bills right there. These don’t need to be movies, just 5-10 second clips of the product being used are perfect for showcasing what it can do. 

If you’re wondering how you can add that to your arsenal, we’re eager to chat with you

Unorganized Files

You probably haven’t questioned how your team creates your catalog, but it’s more important than you think. Unorganized files can come back to haunt you down the road, especially when it comes to updating catalogs with new information and products. 

That’s why you need to practice a few standards when it comes to crafting your next catalog. First, make sure that your designer is using InDesign or Illustrator, if they say they’re using Photoshop, you should be asking questions.

Second, set up your company identifying information, like logo and website URL, on a separate layer. This will make it easy for you to export a branded and unbranded version of your catalog which can be used for a variety of purposes. 

Sidenote: When set up correctly, you can export a version for print (with crops and bleeds) and for digital (in RGB) quickly and easily. When that catalog is exported for digital, the colors and quality will be precise and accurate. 

Lastly, make sure you set your catalog up for easy updates and edits. You never know when you will want to add another product or make a change, which is why organized and thoughtful files can aid in that process. Consider it an investment that can live past the first version. 

Chronic overbranding

Nobody needs to be reminded of your brand on every single page in the header and footer—talk about being pushy. By flooding the page with too much branding, you create a further disconnect between your business, the distributor, and the end-buyer. Remember, distributors, want to present your catalog as their own to customers. 

Give distributors space to spotlight their logo, not yours. If you enable those distributors to push their brand, best believe they will push your product as well. This is the definition of a win-win for you and your distributors. Over the last ten years, we’ve seen this play out time and again where suppliers who make it simple for distributors to customize their catalog see an increase in distribution.

Cemented pricing structure

Every supplier has different needs, inventory, and customers—thus, you need to find the right pricing structure for you. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy here. With constantly changing prices, tariffs, and product availability, it’s important to be tactical about the pricing structure you choose to use moving forward.

Don’t do what everyone else is doing, rather deeply analyze your situation, understand what works best for your operation, and stick to it. 

For some that might be no pricing inside the catalog. For others, it might be a pricing grid, or a call to action like, “call for pricing.” For those that go with grids, consider offering a priced and unpriced version, as not all distributors want their customers to see the suggested price.

There you have it, 5 catalog killers you can easily avoid when you whip up your next seasonal catalog. Now you’re ready to pull together the best promotional products catalog in the game and start catching new clients. 

If that sounds like something you want some assistance with, we’re here to help. Submit an inquiry and we will help review your strategy at ZOOMcatalog.