What Makes a Modern Catalog Stand Out?

modern catalog

Millions of companies and individuals around the world still rely on printed and digital catalogs to sell their products to consumers. But what makes a modern catalog stand out? What steps can you take to competitively differentiate your catalog and reach the people who matter most?

With competitive differentiation, you’ll be more relevant to your fans, you’ll earn more visibility, and you’ll be more likely to win more sales.

Let’s dig into the specifics of how you can make it happen.

Choose the Right Printer

First, make sure you choose the right catalog printer. Your choice of printer has an impact on a wide range of different variables. It will affect the overall quality of your production, the consistency of the items you print, your delivery timelines, and even the price you pay. If you choose an unreliable printer, you could end up with mismatched colors, low-quality paper, or other quality assurance issues – and you might overpay at the same time.

Thankfully, there are dozens of reliable online printers to choose from. If you spend some time shopping around and doing your due diligence, you’ll end up finding a partner who invests in quality assurance and customer satisfaction.

Understand Your Audience

One of the most important prerequisites for creating a successful catalog is understanding your audience. There’s no such thing as a universal template for an effective catalog, since different catalogs are trying to accomplish different goals. 

Some producers are specifically trying to evoke fear of missing out for young teenagers, while others are trying to evoke nostalgia for middle-aged adults; catalogs designed with these principles in mind shouldn’t look anything alike.

That’s why your first step should be thoroughly researching your target demographics, so you can better understand their perspectives, beliefs, and values. Once you have a better idea of the customer personas you’re working with, you’ll be in a much better position to design a specifically targeted catalog.

Take Better Photos

The quality of your photography plays a huge role in how people perceive the quality of your products (and your brand overall). If you showcase your products in the best possible light, and you invest in the best photography standards, people are going to be blown away; conversely, if your photos look like they were taken by a cell phone from 2005, people will likely come to the conclusion that your products aren’t worth buying.

If you don’t have photography or design experience, you may not have an intuitive eye for this. That’s why it’s important to work with professionals who can help guide you.

Play to Your Brand

Help your catalog stand out by playing to your brand. Your brand is wholly unique; it’s not like any other brand in the world, even including competing brands in your industry. Your catalog should be similarly unique. What elements of your brand identity or personality can you show off in your formatting and design?

Defy the Conventions

There are many useful strategies for designing your modern catalog to be more appealing, and many of them are valuable. But truly standout catalogs require designers who are unafraid of taking risks. You need to be willing to break some of these conventions and rules if you want to competitively differentiate your products. Instead of following a template or mimicking what your competitors do, buck the trend and do something truly unexpected.

For example, can you position your products in an entirely new way? Can you use more storytelling, instead of specific product descriptions to sell your best products? Can you feature other sections in your catalog, such as buying guides or interactive quizzes?

Have Some Fun

Depending on the nature of your brand, it could benefit you to have some fun in your catalog. Most consumers appreciate levity and humanity when browsing through product pages. If your product copy is too stuffy, too polished, or otherwise insincere, people are going to be turned off. 

Instead, allow yourself to crack some jokes. Present your products in a goofy way, such as by having them presented by people in silly costumes. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

There’s a risk in going too far here, but for the most part, these calculated risks pay off.

Experiment and Analyze

Finally, make sure you experiment with different approaches and analyze the results from those experiments for your modern catalog. Can you ship multiple different catalogs with different designs and compare their response rates? Can you cycle through many different designs for your product pages and see which ones your visitors respond to the most?

Successful catalog design is an iterative approach. You may not captivate your audience or truly distinguish yourself from the competition on your first try, but if you remain persistent, you can eventually master the art.

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