While it may seem to be a tremendous task at first, the process of planning, designing, ordering, printing and mailing a catalog is not as difficult as it seems. Thanks to the innovations and capabilities of some web-to-print printers, the difficulty of at least three of those steps have decreased tremendously, giving customers the chance to focus more heavily on the designing and planning stages of their catalog creation process.
To make the process of printing and mailing a catalog easier, we’ve created a step by step guide that includes practically every detail about each step you can expect to encounter as you build your catalog mailer. Keep in mind that not every single step is applicable to every type of catalog, so you may not have to follow every single tip outlined in this guide to print and mail an incredible catalog.
At the end of this blog post, we’ve included a link to download a special multistage checklist that can be printed out and used to track your progress as you complete your own mailed catalog project.
Start with the end in mind.
One of the best approaches to beginning anything is to start with the end in mind. This doesn’t just mean trying to imagine what your end product—in this case a catalog—will look like. This means starting with a clear concept for the impact you want the catalog to have.
Knowing roughly what you want most out of the catalog marketing project will enable you to develop useful, actionable mission statements and ideas that will serve to guide you as you go throughout the remainder of your catalog creation process.
Having a clearer vision is everything when it comes to coordinating something that incorporates so many types of media from various parts of your business or organization, so it’s a good idea to develop one before even getting a team together.
One way you can make this step as fruitful as possible is by answering a few questions that will help you develop some actionable answers regarding your catalog marketing project. It’s important to note that at this stage, we’re talking about just the idea of the catalog, not anything about its design or specific components.
Here are a few of the ones we find most useful for developing a clearer vision for catalog mailers with a set of example responses to lend some clarification top each of the questions. When you answer these questions for your own catalog project, try to be as specific as possible and include details about the exact products or specific actions each question is asking about.
The more detail you provide here, the less work you’ll have to do later when you’re developing the catalog’s contents.
Q: How will your customers encounter this catalog?
A: They will receive it by mail, by picking one up at one of our locations, by requesting one, by downloading one from our website, by viewing it online, by attending a trade show or public event, etc.
Q: What do you want customers to get out of your catalog?
A: A convenient means of ordering our products via mail or by phone, a better understanding of who we are as a brand or a stronger sense of brand familiarity, an idea of what they will purchase when they come to one of our stores or locations or when they order online, familiarity with a new line of services or products we offer, creative inspiration that will encourage them to buy more of our products, a sense that your brand relates to them on a more personal level that makes them feel like they are a part of a greater community of your customers or those passionate about whatever it is you do specifically, a source of entertainment and editorial content, etc.
Q: What do you want customers to do as soon as they finish reading your catalog?
A: Hold on to it to keep it as a guide for future ordering, make a call and place an order for specific products or services, feel inspired to come and visit one of our stores or locations, check out our social media or online presence to connect on a deeper level, feel a stronger loyalty to your brand or products that doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in an immediate action or purchase, but rather takes place over time as the customer chooses your brand over others due to their increased sense of loyalty, etc.
Q: What do you want to get out of this catalog?
A: Increased sales for a specific product or line of products, an increased awareness and usage of some of the lesser-known products or service offerings you provide, increased sales across all product categories, a stronger public identity that helps rally employees and improve company culture, a sense that your company or organization is contributing to the cutting-edge discussions of your industry, etc.
Now that you have a clear idea of what you want your catalog to accomplish conceptually, you can more easily figure out the logical details outlined in the next few steps.