How To Produce A Great Catalog

When getting started with a catalog, the first step is to decide who’ll take the lead on this mammoth undertaking. Do you have someone in-house who can take it on or likes that type of work? That’s one option to consider. It’s also important to consider the level of work you expect. Unless the proper training is there, you’ll likely not receive the caliber of work you’d get from professionals who create catalogs regularly as their primary job.

Outsource Or Divide And Conquer

Most importantly, analyze this project like you would any project with your business. It’s easy for projects like these — ones that are completely different than what your team is accustomed to — to capture a huge amount of your staff’s time and energy. Figure out what’s the best use of time for your team and how you can accomplish the goal most effectively, economically and efficiently. In this respect, it may be beneficial to outsource the project.

To keep from being overwhelmed, break your catalog project down into smaller, more manageable bites, and tackle them one at a time. Even if you work on several portions at the same time (and you likely will), the fear factor is far lower with this approach than assigning one person to start at the beginning and slog through the entire project.

Start by establishing a basic outline, then divide and conquer. A typical layout includes:

• Introduction/welcome letter
• Information about the company
• New products and special offers
• Product selection (establish your list, then go in search of images)
• Specs and ordering (inventory, shipping, minimum orders)
• Index

Information To Include

How do you know what information to include, and how much of it? Start by taking a look at your audience and asking yourself some questions like:

• Are you reaching brokers, growers, retailers or consumers?
• Will you need a different version for different audiences, or will your catalog need to have different sections to meet different needs?
• Do you want customers to use your catalog as a cheat sheet to eMail your sales team or as a handy reference to go through page-by-page when they call customer service to place their order?
• How much information should you put into your tome? Is this more of a quick reference or the end-all-be-all guide to your greenhouse?
• Will you have an online version, whether with integrated shopping cart technology or a simple clickable reference?

Deciding the last question up front means your designer can build the catalog in a way that makes conversion easier. There’s not enough space here to get into all of the elements of electronic catalog design; that’s a whole different animal. But even if you start by uploading a PDF to your website, that’s still a digital option that makes it easier for customers to do business with you.

Answer each of these questions; then consider what to include. If you’re selling plants, think about genus, species and variety names, common name, container, tray or plug size, sun requirements, height, spread, color, hardiness zone, culture, availability and, of course, price.

Few catalog elements beget arguments like price. Every company has its own policy about whether to include it, and managers have many different opinions. Consider whether you are making it easier for the customer or making it easier for the competition to grab a chunk of your business. Are you locking yourself in or leaving the door open for those who seek transparency of business? The best decision is the one that’s right for you.

Stick To A Style

Consistency is as comforting for you as it is for your reader. This means more than standard fonts and colors, although those are key to any operation’s identity.

Think about how you will handle the plant names. It is proper to use the full botanical name (Aquilegia caerulea) on first reference, and after that it can be listed as A. caerulea. Aquilegia c., while convenient, should not be used. Italics should be used in both cases. Unlike botanical names, there is no consistent rule for capitalizing common names. Will you use purple fountain grass or Purple

Fountain Grass? Will you use single quotes around variety names (correct usage) or forego them for simplicity?

These may seem like mundane or maddening musings, but they’re the foundation of a great book. The attention to detail presents a professional image and helps position you as an expert. Plus, they make it easy for your customers to know exactly what you’re talking about. We can’t say it enough; don’t make your customers work for it. If they have to stop and think, it may stop the sale.

The 8 Most Misspelled Words In Horticulture

(Don’t laugh … the easy ones often get overlooked!)

1. Variety
2. Accommodate
3. Commitment
4. Dependent
5. Commercial
6. Vernalization
7. Perennial
8. Foliage

Edit Your Content Carefully

Once you’ve got your rough draft, proofread it. Then proofread again and again. It typically takes at least three reads to see all of the blips and bumps in a document. Read on the first pass for basic grammar, the second for quirks in your collection and the third from the raw view of your customer, someone who’s never seen this before.

Be sure to list patent and trademark information correctly.
Ideally, get at least three different sets of eyes on the catalog before it goes to print. In the best-case scenario, you’ll bring in members of your team from different areas of the company with completely different viewpoints. You’ll be amazed what they notice.

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

August 25, 2016

7 Ways Albert Grimm Strives To Be An Effective Leader

Grimm, Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, tries to live by the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” from author Stephen R. Covey.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

August 25, 2016

Maryland-Based SunMed Growers Nabs Cannabis License

The company was one of 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals.

Read More
Albert Grimm GOY feature

August 25, 2016

Up Close And Personal With Head Grower Of The Year Albert Grimm

According to Grimm, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, the key to being a successful grower is educating and inspiring yourself, your staff, your customers, and the next generation of growers.

Read More
Latest Stories
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

August 25, 2016

7 Ways Albert Grimm Strives To Be An Effective Leader

Grimm, Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, tries to live by the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” from author Stephen R. Covey.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

August 25, 2016

Maryland-Based SunMed Growers Nabs Cannabis License

The company was one of 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals.

Read More
Albert Grimm GOY feature

August 25, 2016

Up Close And Personal With Head Grower Of The Year Albe…

According to Grimm, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, the key to being a successful grower is educating and inspiring yourself, your staff, your customers, and the next generation of growers.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More
LuxFlora - feature

August 22, 2016

Check Out Luxflora’s International Adventures In Europe

A new, women-led professional organization provides its members the opportunity to gain insight, develop ideas, and build connections on its annual international trip.

Read More
MasterTag booth at Cultivate'16

August 17, 2016

5 Nuggets Of Wisdom From Cultivate’16

Here are five sweet pieces from the movers and shakers at Cultivate'16 to help improve your greenhouse business.

Read More
Cannabis ForwardGro

August 16, 2016

ForwardGro Receives License From Maryland Medical Canna…

The company, comprised of expert nursery growers, medical experts, business leaders, and patient advocates, says it can now apply its greenhouse growing experience, medical knowledge, and business expertise to effectively grow quality and consistent medical cannabis.

Read More
GreenhouseConnect 2015 Grower Supplier Meeting

August 16, 2016

5 Reasons You Need To Attend GreenhouseConnect

Greenhouse Grower’s annual event, which will take place Oct. 11-14 in Park City, UT, offers large-scale growing operations the chance to meet one on one with suppliers who can directly address your business needs.

Read More
Farwest Show Floor

August 14, 2016

Mobile App Now Available For 2016 Farwest Show

The app, available as a free download, can help attendees plan for everything from educational sessions to the New Varieties Showcase and Grower Showcase.

Read More

August 13, 2016

Plants Sales Are Up For Fourth Straight Year, According…

Growers declared spring 2016 to be a success in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry: Spring Crops Recap Survey.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

August 12, 2016

IR-4 Project Receives Federal Funding For Pollinator An…

Grants from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative will fund IR-4 projects on protecting pollinators through ornamental horticulture, and downy mildew management strategies.

Read More
Emily Teng

August 11, 2016

American Floral Endowment Announces Its 2016 Scholarshi…

This year, thanks to the generosity of several donors, AFE awarded more than $35,000 to 17 students pursuing careers in horticulture.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

August 10, 2016

Customers Need Hand-Holding And TLC [Opinion]

If we want customers to use our plants, we need to provide basic information about the plants we produce.

Read More
Plug Connection Assortment

August 9, 2016

AmericanHort’s Plug And Cutting Conference Will Feature…

This year’s conference, which takes place Sept. 19-21 in Carlsbad, CA, features discussions on water, pest and disease control, and production inputs, as well as a biocontrols workshop and tour of local cuttings facilities.

Read More
Jim Nordlie

August 9, 2016

AFE Establishes Memorial Tribute For Long-Time Rose Gro…

Kennicott Brothers Company, Nordlie Inc., and The Pete Garcia Company established the Jim Nordlie Memorial Tribute through American Floral Endowment in honor of James “Jim” Nordlie, who passed away on July 1 at the age of 93.

Read More
Josh Henry, North Carolina State University

August 8, 2016

Get To Know Joshua Henry, Winner Of The 2016 Richard T.…

Henry, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, is pursuing a Master’s degree in horticultural sciences, with a focus on crop nutrition in bedding plants and flowering potted plants.

Read More
Andy And Micky Buist, Micandy Gardens

August 1, 2016

Micandy Gardens Uses New Technology And Energy Efficien…

With it's through energy efficiency, new technology, or the use of biocontrols, the Micandy ownership family of Andy, Micki, and Marcelyn Buist are constantly looking to make changes that will keep the company strong well into the future.

Read More
Obscura Screens From Svensson feature

July 28, 2016

3 New Products For Cannabis Producers

From screens to fertilizers to lighting, here are three new products that might help enhance your cannabis production system.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]