National Stationery Show: All About Catalogs

March 12, 2013

Of the various elements that must come together to exhibit at the National Stationery Show, I think one of the most daunting is putting together a wholesale catalog. First of all, creating a 12+ page catalog is time consuming and requires painstaking attention to detail. Secondly, your catalog is one of the most important, if not the most important, marketing pieces that buyers see. 

Buyers at the Stationery Show visit hundreds of different booths and pick up dozens upon dozens of catalogs. Some buyers go through catalogs each night of NSS to decide what orders they want to place before the show concludes. Other buyers don't place orders at the show, but wait until they return home to review their notes, sort through catalogs, and make purchasing decisions. Thus, it's imperative that your catalog stands out and includes all of the pertinent information a buyer wants to know. 

Here's a few tips for preparing your wholesale catalog:
- Research different types of catalogs and take notes about what you like. This includes retail catalogs you get in the mail as well as other stationery designers' catalogs. An easy way to find great catalogs is to search Issuu, a digital publishing platform, for wholesale stationery catalogs. When I was first designing my catalog, checking out other catalogs helped me get a good sense of what types of information I needed to include and how I should layout my pages.
- Not a design software expert? Use online tutorials! I had limited experience with Adobe InDesign before I began designing my catalog. Lynda, a subscription-based website offering software tutorials, became my lifeline. Trust me, the cost of a monthly subscription is worth the time saved in learning all of the intricacies of design software. 
- All of your product information should be clearly laid out in your catalog. Include details like card size, product minimums, how cards are packaged (Do they come in a cello sleeve? What do boxed sets look like?), type of paper you use for printing, and the color of envelopes you pair your cards with.
- Don't bury your contact information. Make it very easy for buyers to get in touch with you! I include contact information on the bottom of every single page. 
- Your products should shine! Thumbnails of card designs should be large enough for buyers to see the card's details. I like to include the product's name and code number below each thumbnail. I've found that buyers tend to order using only the product code, so make sure it is easy to find. 
- Be consistent with your branding. Details like the logo design, colors, font type, and language used in your catalog should be consistent with other elements of your branding, including your website, business card, and packaging. 
- Remember the catalog will be used beyond just the Stationery Show. Depending on your print run, you'll likely end up using the same catalog for anywhere from six months to over a year. Keep this in mind if you include any time-sensitive material in your catalog. 

What tips do you have for catalog design? Share your comments below!



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