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A Checklist For Your Print Catalog

Nov 8, 2007
Creating your first printed product catalog or revamping one that's been going out for a while? Using a checklist can help ensure that you don't overlook key elements that enable readers to place orders easily and with confidence. Details matter in catalogs!

1. Layout. Any catalog longer than four pages needs page numbers and a table of contents that helps readers quickly find what they're looking for. Your page design should also make it easy to find item names and prices. If your order form lists the names of your items for customers to check off and add quantities, then those names must exactly match the names used in the product descriptions.

2. Company profile. Never assume that those receiving the catalog know who you are. Even if they've placed previous orders with you, readers should find background information about your company - usually on page 2 or 3 or inside the back cover. How long have you been in business? How do you differ from other vendors in your industry? What are you particularly known for?

3. Shipping information. People wanting to place an order must be able to find the cost and speed of shipping for just about any possible shipping situation. What are the rates for shipping within your own country and for shipping to other countries? Is the shipping fee calculated according to the number of items, their weight or the total amount of the order? Can one pay extra for rush shipping, and if so, how much is that? All this must be clearly explained in an easily findable location in the catalog.

4. Guarantee and return policy. Just as important as details on shipping policies are your company guarantee (90 days? one year?) and the conditions under which buyers can return items they're not happy with. These help push those thinking of ordering over the fence.

5. Ordering methods. Tell readers whether they can order by phone, fax or mail or on the web, along with the relevant contact details, and which credit cards and other forms of payment you accept. If corporations, educational institutions or government entities are among your likely customers, consider saying something about purchase orders, their preferred payment method.

6. Questions. Let people know the best ways they can get in touch if they have questions about a particular item or about placing their order. For best results, place this information in more than one location in the catalog.

7. Discounts. Many catalog publishers print discounts such as "10% off your order from this catalog through July 20th" on catalog inserts rather than in the catalog itself. But if you offer special deals to some customers, the order form must include some obvious way for those taking advantage of the special deal to indicate that.

8. The order form. Make sure the order form includes spaces to indicate how many of each item they want. If some items have sizes or colors or other options, buyers must be able to indicate which options they want, as well. Remember that some people have different shipping and billing addresses, so you need blanks for both. Must some customers pay sales tax? If so, say who must do so and how much they must pay.

9. Fillers. You're sure to have extra space here and there in the catalog. Fill it with tips, testimonials, product excerpts, photos, charts, quotations, jokes and such.

10. Mailing info. If you're planning to mail the catalog at least sometimes on its own, set up the back cover with a return address, the necessary postal indicia and space for the recipient's address.

If you've never created a catalog before, give your initial version to four or five testers and ask them to pretend they're ordering. If they get stuck trying to find any information they need to complete their order, or if they fill out their order form wrongly, revise your form and catalog layout so they're more user-friendly. Several marketing gurus advise, "The confused mind always says no." With a well-organized and well-written catalog, you'll profit from the yesses!
About the Author
Marcia Yudkin has been selling her writing since 1981. Check out her free weekly newsletter on creative marketing, Marketing Minute (http://www.yudkin.com/marksynd.htm ). Learn more about her home-study course on becoming a successful information marketer: http://www.yudkin.com/informationempire.htm
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