A catalog redesign that doubled ROI

A new format helped Top IT Off impress their retailers
A new format helped Top It Off impress their retailers

I hear from graphic designers that they learned little in school about how to create artwork that can be printed. That learning comes either in an internship or in their first real job when a mentor teaches them requirements of a print-ready file.

The bigger issue is they were never taught the standard sizes available for paper and printing presses, or how to create artwork that fits efficiently within those sizes. That oversight costs clients a lot of money.

I’ve worked with fashion company Top It Off Accessories for years helping them produce their biannual wholesale catalog for boutique retailers. Partners Elizabeth Hoensheid and Karena Rasser asked me to help cut expenses for their upcoming Spring/Summer edition. We were able to slash the costs by more than 50%. Here’s what we did.

Working with graphic designer Dianna Glazer of Russo Glazer Design, we looked at their previous catalogs – 5.5″x8.5″ 32 page self cover on 80# gloss text. They had been using this format for a few years as they built their product line. Now they feel their retail clients who carry the line know enough about the existing products so they could focus the new catalog on their biggest new lines.

That meant we could reduce the page count, but they also wanted a different format. I priced out several size and page count options and had paper dummies made. They selected an oblong format that could fit on a standard 19″x25″ sheet that would print on a more economical 20″x26″ press (compared to the previous catalogs that printed on 25″x38″ sheet on a pricier 28″x40″ press).

Top It Off Catalog spreadThe final size of 11.25″x5.5″ offered two major benefits. First, the horizontal format (22.5″ wide when opened) provided a great way for Dianna to create a visually pleasing display of a complete line of products more striking than the old 11″ wide format allowed. Second, by keeping the finished width to 11.25″, it mailed at the letter rate without any postal surcharges (the maximum size for the postal letter rate is 11.5″x6.125″).

The result? When they made follow up calls to retailers after the mailing the response was very positive, and virtually everyone remembered getting the catalog. Order commitments have held steady, even in this difficult retail environment.

Even better was the savings to the bottom line: by cutting the page count and updating the layout to fit a smaller press, they cut their printing costs in half. (The competitive printing environment also helped me find lower pricing.) An added bonus was that the postage went from $.79 each to $.29 because having fewer pages brought the weight down.

Companies have to be smart in this economy with their marketing dollars. You have to focus on what’s most important, and not do things the same way out of habit. By being open to a new approach, Top It Off Accessories maintained their sales but cut their costs by more than half. Are you ready to try something new?

With over 30 years of working inside and outside printing, promotional and marketing companies, Jamie Bradley helps clients source and produce great marketing materials. He writes these occasional blogs to share ideas on how to create better and more effective products.