5 Tips for Building the Perfect Catalog Strategy

We see a lot of different catalogs throughout the course of our day. Like, a lot a lot. Being the first to see the innovations and imaginative creations from promotional products suppliers is one of the reasons we love our jobs! It also means we get sneak previews of industry catalog strategies and popular trends.

So we’re using our insider info to help you build your perfect digital catalog strategy for 2022. We’ve highlighted our top five tips for innovative catalog strategies and included examples to inspire your digital transformation. We’ll also be elaborating on each of these points with more detailed blog posts throughout the next month with additional blog posts, so stop back often for more.

Let’s get started!

1. Focus on Awesome Imagery

When it comes to marketing and sales, amazing images are life. Effective marketing relies on strong storytelling, and nothing relays a story faster or with more power than a good lifestyle photo. Photos aren’t the only way to tell your story, either. With enhanced digital catalogs, you can embed videos, expanding your customers’ digital experience beyond the page.

For a deeper dive into the kind of imagery that sells, check out “Winning Imagery: New Rules for a Digital World.”

Example: Adnart

If you’ve seen one mug photo, you’ve seen them all. Right? Wrong. Adnart has elevated the product photo to an art form. The best part? Distributors can grab these images and use them in their own marketing. The embedded videos also open up so many different ways to explore the pages of their catalog. AdNArt helps distributors look good while selling their products!


2. Know Your Breakout Strategy

Suppliers are evolving beyond big book catalogs. While there is still a place for full-line catalogs, smaller breakouts allow you to highlight your new products, update your pricing, and focus on what’s selling right now. Thanks to the speed and affordability of digital catalogs, there’s no reason to chain yourself to a doorstopper. Smaller, seasonal breakout books, category-specific catalogs focused on particular product or group of products, and vertical market-specific catalogs allow you to keep your marketing fresh and focus your sales efforts on the categories your customers care about most.

Example: PCNA

PCNA. has changed the way they think about catalogs. Instead of one huge catalog once a year, they’re releasing smaller, focused books every couple of months and combining those with landing pages and customization tools to help their customers sell. Check out all of PCNA’s available catalogs here.

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3. Plan for Customization

Your catalogs are tools that will help your clients sell more products. With that in mind, you should design with an eye towards customization. Start with the cover by leaving white space for distributor and end-buyer logos. From there, consider the content inside your catalog. Don’t overload it with logos, your website URL, and your contact information. Give them space to add their own. Thanks to recent technological advances, the options for customization go above and beyond putting a different name on the cover.

Our team has been listening to industry professionals for over a decade, and we’ve taken that research and created ZOOMstudio. ZOOMstudio goes beyond rebranding a catalog or flyer and allows suppliers and distributors to build custom presentations, look books, virtual samples, and much more. The options for digitally customizing your marketing materials are practically endless. Check out “Marketing Tools in a Digital World” for more details on these tools.

Example: alphabroder

When it comes to customization, alphabroder is all in. Their digitally enhanced Essential Branded Apparel 2022 catalog is fully customizable in priced and unpriced versions, and as VP of Marketing Steve Valeri said, “If you’re going to share it, you might as well make it your own.”

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4. Design with the End-Buyer in Mind

Good novelists will tell you they already know the end before they start writing the beginning of their books. You should do the same when your designing your catalogs – or rather, you should keep the end-buyer in mind.

Create a catalog that your customers will want to share with their customers, and you’ll have created a tool to increase sales across the board. Consider how many different ways your catalogs will be shared – are the images worthy of an Instagram post? Will your clients email pages to their customers? What about web banners, text messages, presentations? 

Make your catalogs ripe for remixing!

Example: S&S Activewear

S&S focuses on tools that give their customers the creative resources they need to engage their end-buyers. S&S even provides instructional videos on their website for distributors who want to customize their digital materials and make them their own. (Learn more in our Going Digital interview with S&S’s Ashley Nielsen.)

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5. It’s All About Interactivity

It’s the 21st century, if you’re not designing interaction into your catalogs you’re designing in the past. Videos obviously enhance the experience, but links to external sites can provide more information than you could ever fit on a page – and they can remove friction in the buying process at the same time. 

And let’s not forget a hyperlinked table of contents and/or index. (AdNArt has a great example of a stellar table of contents.) It’s a simple thing, but it exponentially improves the usability of your catalog.

 Example: Gemline

Gemline puts their catalogs to work by making them interactive. They combine high-quality lifestyle images with video and external links to their website to create a seamless sales experience. One moment, you’re flipping through their Spring 2021 Lookbook, the next you’re watching a video of their products in a real-world setting, and then you’re clicking “add to cart.”

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Want to talk to someone one-on-one about the future of your catalog strategy? Set up a personal session with one of our team members. We love helping you get the most out of your digital catalogs.