The Top Online Catalog Printing Companies

Online catalog printing services are a great way to save money, time, and effort. Utilizing online catalog printing services is a useful way to get catalogs printed, and should be considered by anyone with a business that will utilize catalogs in their business model. Not having transport costs, and using the time spent traveling to a physical location could represent a savings of money. Further, having a wider number of services to choose from might get a better deal. Not having to travel back and forth will save time, and the ability to order from your computer will also save a considerable amount of time in the catalog printing process. Further, the selection process will likely be faster. Effort will also be saved. The process of going to the printing service takes effort. Choosing from among multiple services and then calling or visiting their premises can take a substantial amount of time.

Saving Money

When seeking to get catalogs printed, the costs associated with printing are important to consider. The more money that you spend on catalog printing and the associated catalog printing services, the less profit the business will turn. The overhead should be kept as low as possible, and so saving money on catalog printing services is important. This is especially true if a large number of catalogs are going to be printed. Online catalog printing services are a great way to save money with your catalog printing needs. A wider selection of services will likely allow you to get a better deal for your catalog prints. Less time and money spent on traveling to the physical store location is a benefit of online catalog printing services. Any way to save money on your overhead costs is worth thinking seriously about.

Saving Time

Using online catalog printing services can save you a great deal of time. Traveling to and from the printing shop where you would otherwise have to go to have catalogs printed, can take a substantial amount of time. You have to travel to the store, interact with the staff, travel back to your home or business, travel back to the printing shop, and then return to the business. In addition to travel times and having to have conversations about the business of printing, the time spent on choosing a business by travelling there or calling different businesses will be saved as well because comparing the options available online is much faster.

Effort

Online catalog printing services are substantially easier to utilize than in-person and in-store printing services for catalogs or other printing needs. The ability to effortlessly browse through the web and select the option with the right mix of price, quality, and services provided for you, represents a substantial savings of the effort involved in getting catalogs printed. Further, just clicking a button and having the products you need delivered right to you or the place of your choosing is substantially easier than delivering them yourself or hiring a common carrier on your own to transport the catalogs to the distributor.

The Elements of Effective Catalog Design

One may think that a physical catalog isn’t necessary anymore in this digital era, but guess again. A professionally designed and printed catalog can be a vital lead-nurturing tool. When you meet someone face-to-face for the first time, whether it be at an event, trade show or an initial sales meeting, you take the time to learn about each other’s businesses. But what happens after you leave? A well-executed capabilities brochure will remind your prospect of the services you offer and, most importantly, what sets you apart from the competition.

In an initial contact, a catalog can be more effective than any other marketing asset because it’s immediate. Your prospect won’t necessarily take the time to visit your website after an initial meeting. Since the brochure is right in front of them, it will often intrigue them to learn more about your firm and then visit your website.

A professionally designed print catalog is especially important for small businesses. It builds credibility by conveying important messages about the value of your product or service. It helps to build your brand, and positions you as a legitimate business in the minds of prospects and customers.

To connect with readers, every catalog needs three essential design elements:

Attention-grabbing cover. Chances are your prospects have very short attention spans. If your catalog cover doesn’t immediately catch their eye and pique their interest, they won’t open and read the rest of the brochure. To get the attention of your target audience, combine a visually appealing design with an attention-grabbing headline that addresses a powerful benefit for your customers.
Compelling content. You care more about your business than your prospects do; they aren’t interested in a detailed history of your business. Instead, they want to know how your product or service can help them save time, lower costs, get more sales, or run their business more effectively. Focus your content on the problems and challenges your customers face and how you solve them better than your competitors. Use graphs, charts or images to help support your content, and convey your message more quickly.
Powerful call to action. The primary purpose of a catalog is to move people to the next phase of the sales cycle. Do you want them to visit your web site? Pick up the phone and call for a free estimate? Contact you via email to receive a downloadable white paper? A good call to action tells your readers exactly what you want them to do. It also stands out from the rest of the copy so that readers can’t miss it.

From a visual standpoint, a catalog needs to appeal to your specific audience. For example, if you serve a more conservative market, edgy or trendy design elements might look clever to you, but they don’t reflect the mindset of your readers.

At the same time, consider the image you want to project as a business. Most B2B firms use a matte finish on their catalog because it looks more distinguished and professional. Retail companies tend to use glossy finishes, as they make product pictures and images stand out more.

Your design and layout of inside pages should work well with the content. Use benefit-driven headers and sub-headers to catch the reader’s eye. Include plenty of white space to make the catalog easy to read.

Make sure the catalog visual elements – color, imagery, font, logo, etc. – align with and support your brand. Consistency of brand image is a key ingredient in earning your prospect’s trust.

Finally, never shy away from a professionally designed catalog because of cost. When done well, the return you receive will far outweigh the money you invest in growing your business.

8 Useful Tips for Catalog Design

A catalog design is more than using a collection of colorful pages. One needs to be creative and attractive enough to start an interest among prospective users and buyers. Your service or product selection may be a good choose but if the catalog design is not good; your sales are likely to go nowhere. A good catalog design creates a buzz that forces users to buy the product or the service even if they do not really need the product or the service. Below are simple tips that can make your catalog design better and more attractive for the users.

1. Ensure your catalog reflects your brand identity

If your store looks different than your catalog, which is totally different from your website, then you have a big problem. Customers must enjoy the same brand experience everywhere they shop. Therefore catalog design demand more than just using your business colors. When you translate your brand personality across all media, you assure your customers that they will receive the same service and quality wherever they shop. 

2. The catalog should be clear and simple

A clear and a simple catalog design will assure that customers are able to shop for products and services easily. An uneasily created product catalog design would fail to bag sales.

3. Understand your customers

Knowing who your customers are is essential for choosing your merchandise, designing your photographs, describing your products and developing your mailing list. Understanding your customers will also help you determine the image your present.

4. Page Layout

Always keep in mind that product is the focus of catalog designing. Remember to place the products in the catalog design in a format that the viewer can easily identify what is being sold and at what price. Always ensure the products and the prices are visibly noticeable

5. Think in terms of the whole catalog, not the pieces

A common mistake that many people make is focusing on what goes on the page and not the visual impact of the whole catalog. This can lead to boring lookalike spreads. Always focus on the design of the whole catalog.

6. Make the catalog attractive

Another common mistake that people make is making the most expensive service or product the biggest object on the page. Remember that the goal of catalog design is not to sell just one product, but to make the whole catalog sell. When you make the editorial concept of the catalog more attractive and interesting, many people will spend more time with it, and this will make more things in the catalog to sell.

7. Do not make catalog pages too complex

If you make your products with complex propping, you will actually confuse the reader. Therefore when presenting complex photographs, reduce the number used and make them large enough to be clear.

8. Remember to include an order form 

Since a lot of actual ordering is done by phone, some catalog designers think that an order form is unnecessary. However, recent research has shown that customers like a printed order form to be able to list and consolidate their purchases and also get the information they need.

Overview: Cheap Catalog Printing Services

Catalog printing services can be expensive. When printing catalogs, the amount you spend on them is an important consideration. If you spend too much on catalog printing services, then the overall profit you can earn from your business is diminished. The more catalogs you intend to print, the more paying too much for these printing services affects your overhead costs because the amount spent in excess of what is necessary is magnified. When choosing a catalog printing service, you should assess the quality of the service carefully. High quality printing services are available, but not all are the same price. Some cheaply priced catalog printing services can have very good quality for a great price. Some other services however, may charge too much and not deliver the quality to justify their higher prices. Even in this case, it is wise to consider the law of diminishing returns when choosing the amount that you wish to spend on catalog printing services. When it comes to printing catalogs, cheaper is better.

 Number of Catalogs Printed

When you intend to print a small number of catalogs, the amount that is spent on printing the catalogs is still an important consideration in your businesses budget. However, the amount the overhead is increased by an error in how much to spend on catalog printing might be negligible. But when the number of catalogs that you intend to print for your business is high, any unnecessary expenditure in catalog printing per catalog will be magnified over the amount of catalogs that will be printed.

 Quality of Printing Service

When considering having catalogs printed, the number of catalogs to be printed is important, but so is the quality of the printing services. Cheap catalog printing services are a worthwhile consideration in this area. When spending a large amount of money on catalog printing, be sure that you are not overpaying. Over priced services is a waste of your businesses money and reduce the amount of profit that can be had in a given number of transactions. Some catalog printing services might produce high quality results, but how high does the quality need to be. Consider that the catalog must be of an acceptable quality to retain customers and serve the purposes of the business that is ordering the catalogs. However, any quality paid for above this amount of quality is wasted. The lowest possible price that can be paid for catalog printing services while still maintaining an acceptable level of quality should be the target. If there is waste, it brings down profits and acts as an opportunity cost. The amount of money that could have been saved, could have been invested in other aspects of the business, recovered as profit, or saved. It is also important to consider whether a quality printing service is actually delivered. Paying too much for quality not received is even more of a loss to your business. Cheap printing services are a worthwhile consideration for any business that seeks to use catalogs as part of their business model.

Online Catalog Printing Service

Catalog printing is an often overlooked or under-appreciated aspect of business. However, if your business model depends on the types of sales that are typically generated through catalogs, they can form a substantial part of your overhead. If your business does not generate sales through catalogs only, but incorporates them into other aspects of the business then there are different considerations involved in getting them printed. There are several aspects to catalog printing that are worth careful consideration and evaluation. The amount of the overhead of the business that the catalog will ultimately represent is important to think about. The amount of catalogs necessary to be successful must be balanced against the quality and costs of the catalogs themselves. Further, the quality required of the catalog must be evaluated in relation to the purpose of the catalog and the types of products in the catalog. The customers must also be considered as well. Customer demographics, purchasing intentions, and product qualities are all also important factors to consider in catalog printing. Because there are so many factors to consider, and because of the technical requirements of certain catalogs, it is worthwhile to invest some time in researching a good online catalog printing service.

Overhead

The overhead involved in operating a particular business type must be carefully calculated. If the overhead is left unchecked in an effort to accelerate the brand, the profits may all be lost. Overhead can eat profits quickly if it is not controlled and accounted for. If your business model incorporates a substantial portion of sales being from revenue earned from catalog based transactions, the cost of catalogs becomes very important. If you are just printing a few catalogs, it is less so. However, when you print a great deal of them, you must be careful to get the best deal possible. The quality should be good enough to prevent the loss of customers, and even to gain more sales, but you must be wary of the law of diminishing returns. After a time, investing in higher quality catalogs will not result in more sales, and you should seek the price point that is closest to this line for your business. Because this requires a great deal of comparisons of prices between different catalog printing services, it is best to use an online service. If you are limited to the services that are within your geographic area, those to which you can drive to and have them print out your order, then you will be limiting the prices that can be in your price comparison. The likelihood that the best possible price is within driving distance is very low, and so an online service should be used because it gives you greater flexibility in choosing the company that you use.

As mentioned above, the number of catalogs has a substantial impact on the type of catalog printing service that is required. If you require a great deal of catalogs for your business, the number that you need should influence the manner in which the catalogs are purchased. A mail order business that only has a small circulation might get away with a local catalog printer, even though better deals are probably available online. However, if you are going to print a large number of catalogs, the above considerations become even more important. The wasted expenditures that are the cost of choosing an inefficient operation for your catalog printing will be magnified across the size of the order of catalogs. If you are going to print many, the business could suffer drastic consequences from even a few poorly chosen printing contracts. The best idea is to go online and choose an online printing service that suits your needs and allows you to get the price you need for your business to be successful.

Options

The number of options available from an online printing service is also likely to be higher. If you have a need for a specific type of paper, a specific type of ink, or a specific way of doing the printing, your ability to find a printer that offers these specialties for your catalog is greatly enhanced by searching for an online catalog printing service.

Important Types of Catalog Printing

Any business worth its salt will have a catalog for customers and potential customers to look through. Whether the business is selling clothing or housewares, furniture or food, an attractive catalog can keep customers shopping and buying. Since catalogs are such a necessity it’s important for companies to understand what options are available when printing them. Often times choosing the right types of catalog printing can make a big difference in how the end product looks, feels, and how it sucks in the target audience.

Digital Printing

Perhaps the most common method in use for catalog printing today is digital printing. With digital printing the electronic file is transferred directly into a computer, and the images are applied to the paper by the print machine. Simplified, digital printing is like a large-scale version of what happens when someone clicks the “print” icon on his or her home computer. This method is simple, easy, and it can be used both on small or large runs of a printed item. This means that whether a small, local company needs 50 catalogs for their customers, or an international chain wants 100,000 times that many products it can be handled with the same machine and the same programming.

Offset Lithography

Originally invented in the late 1800s, offset lithography is less popular today than it has been in the past. It is by no means dead however, and it is still a valid way to produce catalogs. In this method printers use metal plates to transfer the ink to a rubber drum, and that drum will then be used to press the ink onto the printing paper. Used very commonly in newspaper presses and in other large-scale printing operations offset lithography saves on ink and is a relatively inexpensive method of printing. It works best for products that will have a large run though, like national catalogs, large daily papers, and even novels that will sell many thousands of copies.

Electrostatic Printing

Electrostatic printing is another method of printing catalogs, but unlike other methods which use ink and pressure electrostatic printing uses an electrical charge and toner. Similar to how a Xerox machine works, electrostatic printing transfers the image to paper in what’s called a dry process. While the paper might be a little warm once the printing is done, there’s no ink to dry so there’s no worrying about smearing, bleeding, or any of the other problems that tend to come with wet printing choices. While this printing method is not ideal for all print jobs, it is best used for relatively small runs of catalogs and other printed media.

While these are not the only printing methods available on the market today, these are the most common types of catalog printing that a business is likely to come across. While other decisions such as the weight of the paper, the font of the text, and even whether or not the pages should be glossy or plain also come into the printing process, these printing methods are going to be some of the biggest decisions made with regards to a catalog.

Elements of Effective Catalog Design

One may think that a physical catalog isn’t necessary anymore in this digital era, but guess again. A professionally designed and printed catalog can be a vital lead-nurturing tool. When you meet someone face-to-face for the first time, whether it be at an event, trade show or an initial sales meeting, you take the time to learn about each other’s businesses. But what happens after you leave? A well-executed catalog design will remind your prospect of the services you offer and, most importantly, what sets you apart from the competition.

In an initial contact, a catalog can be more effective than any other marketing asset because it’s immediate. Your prospect won’t necessarily take the time to visit your website after an initial meeting. Since the brochure is right in front of them, it will often intrigue them to learn more about your firm and then visit your website.

A professionally designed print catalog is especially important for small businesses. It builds credibility by conveying important messages about the value of your product or service. It helps to build your brand, and positions you as a legitimate business in the minds of prospects and customers.

To connect with readers, every catalog needs three essential design elements:

Attention-grabbing cover. Chances are your prospects have very short attention spans. If your catalog cover doesn’t immediately catch their eye and pique their interest, they won’t open and read the rest of the brochure. To get the attention of your target audience, combine a visually appealing design with an attention-grabbing headline that addresses a powerful benefit for your customers.
Compelling content. You care more about your business than your prospects do; they aren’t interested in a detailed history of your business. Instead, they want to know how your product or service can help them save time, lower costs, get more sales, or run their business more effectively. Focus your content on the problems and challenges your customers face and how you solve them better than your competitors. Use graphs, charts or images to help support your content, and convey your message more quickly.
Powerful call to action. The primary purpose of a catalog is to move people to the next phase of the sales cycle. Do you want them to visit your web site? Pick up the phone and call for a free estimate? Contact you via email to receive a downloadable white paper? A good call to action tells your readers exactly what you want them to do. It also stands out from the rest of the copy so that readers can’t miss it.

From a visual standpoint, a catalog needs to appeal to your specific audience. For example, if you serve a more conservative market, edgy or trendy design elements might look clever to you, but they don’t reflect the mindset of your readers.

At the same time, consider the image you want to project as a business. Most B2B firms use a matte finish on their catalog because it looks more distinguished and professional. Retail companies tend to use glossy finishes, as they make product pictures and images stand out more.

Your design and layout of inside pages should work well with the content. Use benefit-driven headers and sub-headers to catch the reader’s eye. Include plenty of white space to make the catalog easy to read.

Make sure the catalog visual elements – color, imagery, font, logo, etc. – align with and support your brand. Consistency of brand image is a key ingredient in earning your prospect’s trust.

Finally, never shy away from a professionally designed catalog because of cost. When done well, the return you receive will far outweigh the money you invest in growing your business.

10 Rules for Exceptional Catalog Design

Rules of Excellent Design for Catalog Printing

1) Appeal to lifestyle desires

Appeal to what makes a person buy

Sometimes people buy to fill a need but most of the time people buy because of want. They buy something they want because they envision feeling better, more satisfied after they have exchanged their hard-earned money for the product or service you have to sell. The art of creating the desire to buy is appealing to the customer’s desire to attain a particular lifestyle. Show the customer the lifestyle they can attain and desire and you will sell more product.

Images, copy and page elements

Therefore, orient all the elements of your catalog around conveying lifestyle. Do this at all levels. Your catalog might have an overall lifestyle theme while the individual products might have modifications or even mini-lifestyle themes of their own. The text and copy should not only describe the product in sufficient detail that the consumer can make a buying decision but it should tell the reader how this item will help them achieve the lifestyle they want.

2) Design for the audience

Tailor your catalog design to appeal to your audience. A business-to-business catalog (B2B) should be very different than a business-to-consumer (B2C) catalog. Catalogs for young people will have a different look than a catalog for older folks. Make the style of your catalog match the style desires of your audience. You will gain more affinity and hence more sales.

3) Make the product the centerpiece

A rule of thumb in catalog design is the larger the product photo the greater the product’s sales. To this end we generally strive to maximize the size of the product’s image, especially in conjunction with each product’s profit value – the more total profit a product generates the larger the product photo should be. Then support the product with compelling copy.

Some catalog companies attempt to save money on photography and printing by grouping items together in photographs. This often results in poor sales because in such a photo no product stands out to draw the customer in. It is better to show items individually or in very small, related groups. We prefer to show most products with no background and with a subtle drop shadow. This allows the product to stand out from the clutter of the page. Then we add lifestyle shots with a subtle background to add variety to the design and convey lifestyle moods.

4) Use great product photos

The Pitfalls of Scrimping on Product Photos

Creating a catalog is expensive and we all want to cut costs when possible. However perhaps the single most important catalog element – the product photo – tends to be the place where clients cut first and it hurts their success every time.

In some industries and with some vendors you can get excellent photos of their products for use in your catalog. And so can your competitors. However most supplier images are just not that good in the first place. Almost all lack clipping paths requiring labor and expense at the catalog design side to use them well. This reduces the perceived savings of these free images. Plus your catalog will not have a unique look all your own.

About half of our new customers began life as a web-based company and the images they’ve created so far are low resolution web images. Other times the images received from the supplier are web resolution images. These images are not acceptable for print catalogs! They are less then 1/4 the resolution and have no clipping paths. If you use them your products will be blurry, the design will suffer and so will your sales.

The third way clients hope to save money is by taking their own photos. The physical process of shooting the photograph is but about 1/3 the cost of preparing a digital image for use in catalog design but is most important to the resulting quality of the finished image. We highly recommend using a volume product photography service such as ourselves or one of the many others available. If you feel you must do your own photography we provide an article with suggestions on making the best photograph possible but be prepared to pay extra at the design side to prep those photos for printing.

What a great photo will do

A great photo is “worth a thousand words” but a poor photo can persuade a customer to not buy your product. Don’t risk it by scrimping on good photography. It would be better to show fewer products on fewer pages to save on printing than to cut your sales with poor photos.

5) Put important items on the outside edges of the page

Readers typically look to the top right first then sweep across the page to the other side. If they don’t see something compelling they’ll flip the page. Therefore put your most appealing products (which are typically your products that generate the most profit) on the outside top corners. Make these elements strong – larger in size – than the remaining products on the page spread.

6) Use opportunities to cross sell

Suggesting companion products can increase sales another 5-15%. Take every advantage of cross selling in your catalog. You can do this in the product copy or with call-outs, or by placing companion products together on the page.

Between your website

An advertising rule of thumb is multiple forms of advertising run simultaneously will result in greater response than the same forms of advertising run separately at different times. Take a retail store running some television ads and some radio ads. If they did a promotion with the television ads one month and a promotion with the radio ads the next month, they will have less impact than if they ran the same promotion on both television and radio at the same time. In essence one feeds off the other. The same holds true with your catalogs. Take advantage of cross media merchandising by promoting your website in your catalog and your catalog on your website. Post your print catalog in pdf format for people to download.

7) Use consistent type styles and limit their number

Limit the number of fonts and/or weights to 2 or 3

To keep a clean and consistent look use no more than 2 to 3 fonts throughout your catalog. Further, keep text spacing and placement next to images consistent. Use the same style of text consistently for common elements such as product name, product description, etc.

Keep fonts to within your style and function – don’t get too fancy unless your style requires it

Choose fonts that are easy to read and whose style matches the lifestyle you wish to convey. Be careful with fancy fonts. It is easy to reduce readability, the professional look and perhaps translate into printing issues if the font is low quality.

Type should be secondary to product photos

Once again the product is the centerpiece and much of that is due to the product photograph. The text should support the reader to make a buying decision and not take away from the impact of the photo.

8) Keep the style consistent from issue to issue reinforcing your “brand” image

Once a successful look has been established resist the urge to change. REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) has kept a rustic border theme for the last 5 years. The look of their catalogs and sale promotion catalogs is easily recognizable by their customers and has created a brand image. One advertising rule of thumb is when you are tired of the look of your catalog (because you’ve seen it over and over again) your customers are just starting to recognize it as your look. Protect your investment by keeping your theme for several years and if you decide to change, do it in small increments over a long time. Repetition brings brand identity recognition and brand recognition brings acceptance and sales.

9) Give products the space they need – and analyze the results

Give your top sellers more space than your less important items

When first designing your catalog give your items that generate the most profit – the most total profit over time, not necessarily items with the most profit margin – more space in your catalog than lower profit items because the rule of thumb is the more space a product has in your catalog the greater the sales will be.

For instance take two items. Both sell for $5 and make a profit of $2.50 for each item sold, but product A made you $5000 in profit last year while product B made only $2000. Therefore product A should have more space and exposure in your catalog. And here’s why: let’s say giving more space to a product will increase sales 10%. If you give product B more space you might increase profits by another $200 but if you gave product A that space it would increase profits by $500.

Analyze the results

About two months after your catalog has been distributed analyze the profit results using square inch analysis. With this analysis you calculate the total cost of the catalog (design, printing, mailing) divided by the total square inches of available selling space. Then figure how much each product cost to show in your catalog by multiplying the cost per square inch times the amount of space each item received in the catalog. Compare this cost against the total profit earned on each item. For the top 20% of most profitable products give them more space in your next issue. For the bottom 20% give them less. By doing this repeatedly you will continue to optimize your catalog costs and maximize profits.

10) Design for economy

The new Slim Jim advantages

The 2007 postage rate increases have created a dilemma with traditional Standard size catalogs and an opportunity to keep costs down using the Slim format called “Slim Jim”. Rates for standard catalogs rose 40% while for letter rate only 9%. Because of the extreme disparity the Slim Jim format will net a savings of 15-20% for the same physical printed space over the Standard format.

Standard catalog formats are more economical.

Formats such as a standard full-size, slim-jim or digest-size catalog in whole signature page counts tend to be the most economical catalog designs to print and mail. Spend time with your printer and the Postal Service to determine an efficient trim size.

Not only do standard catalog formats save money, they also tend to “fit” better. This is both a positive and a negative. A catalog design that is too unusual in format may not fit the customer’s environment and may get disposed of fairly quickly. On the other hand a standard format may come across as plain and boring, not getting the notice you desire.

16-page count increments are more economical.

Heat-set web presses print in signatures of 16 pages. Printing in even signature page quantities, such as 16, 32, 48, 64, etc., will provide the most pages for the dollar. If you can’t hit increments of 16, then the next best option is increments of 8 pages. This would include page counts of 8, 24, 40 and 56.