Before you can produce a catalog, you must undergo first the planning stage. In the planning stage, you envision your objective. What do you want to communicate? What tone or ambiance is necessary to make the objective apparent? Another thing that you should consider is the audience. Knowing the potential readers may help you create and communicate the message, tone and identity that you want. The next thing to ask is who will be the designer? Looking for a designer is hard because only few designers of design companies specialize in catalog. A good designer will give you the style you are looking for but an unskilled catalog designer will create technical difficulties resulting in cost overruns and delays. If you have already chosen a designer, do not forget to choose an expert photographer in connection to catalog. The last thing to consider in the planning stage is the budget. Seek help from catalog designers or producers so that your catalog will fit within your budget.
After planning, decide on the initial design considerations. This includes the kind of catalog you want to create, the number of products you want to appear per page, the number of pieces you want to be printed and other details such as envelope, index, table of contents, sales terms and the likes.
Now you can set the schedule. Producing a catalog is like taking a long road trip. Efficient planning will keep you on track, on time and within budget. Usually, the creation of a new catalog takes about two months for design and photography. Revised catalogs can take less time depending on the degree of modification.
After setting the schedule, you can now formulate product information and have some creative copy. This will include data such as item name, item numbers, prices, descriptions and groupings. Most native data lack comprehensive product name and description copy. Decide whether you or your design company will write the additional copy essential for the catalog. You must keep the data to save your time and expense in case it will be needed again in the future.
The next step is product photography and catalog imagery. To prepare for photography collect and categorize samples of all your products. Then label them in a distinct location with their product code. That way the photographer can match the product code with the image filename for quick addition by the designers.
The last step is the selection of a printer and mail house. Printing catalogs is a fairly specialized printing process. You need to hand over to a printer at least 4 weeks prior to printing to warrant paper delivery. The printing, bindery and mailing will take about 2 weeks. Prepare your mailing data in advance of your print date. Your printer, mail house or catalog design company can assist you with data formats and schedule.