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Designing an Effective Direct-Mail Catalog

Direct-mail print catalogs are one of the best ways to make consistent sales in volume. In fact, many companies bank their entire marketing strategies on direct-mail catalogs. In addition to customer service, brand identity, product offering and pricing, your catalog layout will largely determine your success. Here's how to lay out an effective direct-mail print catalog that drives sales:

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Cover charm

Your catalog cover is your single most important page. It's what customers see first and is what determines whether they'll take a look at the rest of your catalog. Large images and headlines that showcase your current specials should be included on your cover. Whether you're focusing on one product or a suite of products across multiple categories, your cover should list benefits to entice customers to learn more.

Consistency counts

No matter what colors and graphic elements you incorporate into your catalog design, your catalog layout should be consistent across all pages and across all issues. When your catalog arrives in the mail, you want your customers to instantly recognize who it is from. A consistent layout also makes finding important information and flipping to favorite categories easier for your customers, so the purchasing process is hassle-free. It doesn't hurt to inject a bit of personality into your catalog typography, but there's no reason to go wild, either. Large headlines for categories and products will serve you well here. Stick with two or three font types for a consistent look, and incorporate tried-and-true serif and sans serif fonts that are easy on the eyes.

Upper right highlights

When most people flip through catalogs, their eyes naturally skim the upper right hand corners, which makes this a perfect place to showcase product specials, insert testimonials and include other informative or sales-reinforcing boxes.

Go full color and oversized

resources imageFull-color direct-mail catalogs always perform better than two-color or black-and-white versions. They're more visually appealing and product details stand out. Customers like to know what they're getting before they order, and full-color catalog layouts help them do that. Not to mention that full-color catalogs reflect professionalism and reliability for your company. Some catalog printing companies such as PsPrint offer oversize catalogs for a good reason. They can attract more initial attention, allow for stronger sales layouts and product descriptions and ultimately lead to a higher return on investment. Instead of the traditional 8.5-inch by 11-inch catalog, opt for as 12-inch by 12-inch and see the difference for yourself.

Remember the goal

Direct-mail catalogs are made to sell, and while providing information is part of the process you don't want to dilute your pitch with information overload. Sure, tips, testimonials and customer success stories can reinforce your sales pitch (and should be peppered throughout the pages of your catalog), but full magazine-style articles rarely result in improved return on investment. Stick to your sales goals. Nearly every product imaginable is sold via a direct-mail catalog, and yours can be, too. Follow these tips for layout out effective direct-mail catalogs to maximize your results.