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...
Spring Meadow Nursery Fire

January 17, 2017

Two Major Growers Recovering and Rebuilding After Fires

The blazes occurred at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA, and Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, MI. Both companies say no employees were injured, and they plan to pull together and stay on schedule for the remainder of the year.

Read More

January 10, 2017

5 Can’t-Miss Events and Activities at TPIE

The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Tropical Plant Industry Exposition (TPIE) is fast approaching. As you plan your trip, here are five can’t-miss highlights from this year’s show.

Read More
sakata-tour-de-fresh-salad-bar-donation

January 8, 2017

Sakata’s Participation in Tour de Fresh Race Results in New Elementary School Salad Bar

On the heels of riding in the Tour de Fresh Race in July, Allen Satterlee of Sakata Seed America celebrated by presenting a new salad bar to Galt Elementary School in California.

Read More
Latest Stories
Spring Meadow Nursery Fire

January 17, 2017

Two Major Growers Recovering and Rebuilding After Fires

The blazes occurred at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA, and Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, MI. Both companies say no employees were injured, and they plan to pull together and stay on schedule for the remainder of the year.

Read More

January 10, 2017

5 Can’t-Miss Events and Activities at TPIE

The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Tropical Plant Industry Exposition (TPIE) is fast approaching. As you plan your trip, here are five can’t-miss highlights from this year’s show.

Read More
sakata-tour-de-fresh-salad-bar-donation

January 8, 2017

Sakata’s Participation in Tour de Fresh Race Results in…

On the heels of riding in the Tour de Fresh Race in July, Allen Satterlee of Sakata Seed America celebrated by presenting a new salad bar to Galt Elementary School in California.

Read More
griffin-aurora-colorado-branch

January 6, 2017

Griffin Opening New Hard-Goods-Focused Distribution Cen…

The planned February opening of the 18,500 square-foot facility is part of the company’s continued expansion into the Western U.S.

Read More
gg-january-2017-cover-arizonaeast-feature

January 5, 2017

Why ArizonaEast Is Expanding Its Succulent Production T…

In Greenhouse Grower's January cover story, learn how Brian and Joe Vitale of ArizonaEast saw a chance to expand and diversify their New Jersey-based succulent operation, and why they jumped at the opportunity.

Read More
Moana plant yard

January 4, 2017

Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …

Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 3, 2017

Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017

With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.

Read More
2016-student-competition-award-winners

January 3, 2017

Southern Nursery Association Research Conference Procee…

On the heels of presenting awards to students in the horticulture industry, the Southern Nursery Association has compiled and published its conference research proceedings.

Read More
Farwest Show Floor

December 31, 2016

Farwest Show 2017 Will Feature New Days and Hours

The 2017 Farwest Show will take place Wednesday, Aug. 23 through Friday, Aug. 25, to allow attendees more time to visit local hot spots.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: 4 Ways We’re Leaving Growth Opportunities…

Horticulture is a multi-million dollar industry with lots to offer, yet we’re still overlooking several avenues for growth.

Read More
Top 100 Breakfast Panel for 2016

December 27, 2016

You Said It: The Best Quotes From 2016

Some of the industry’s leading growers and educators had strong things to say this year. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable quotes from 2016.

Read More

December 27, 2016

5 Photo Galleries You Didn’t Dare Miss in 2016

Whether it was industry event and trade show highlights or new developments in technology, these images not only spoke more than a thousand words; they drew thousands of clicks, as well.

Read More

December 27, 2016

Check Out the Top 5 Most-Read News Stories on Greenhous…

From pest outbreaks to overtime rule changes, here are the headlines that grabbed your attention in 2016.

Read More
Grow Summit 2016 group shot

December 20, 2016

Less Talk, More Action At Greenhouse Grower’s GRO…

Investing in technology, developing new marketing solutions, and recruiting young growers were just a few of the issues covered at GROW Summit 2016.

Read More
Workers are required to wear uniforms and use tools restricted to the section of the facility where they work, and street clothes are prohibited

December 16, 2016

House Failure To Address H-2B Exemption Could Affect Sp…

Despite efforts by AmericanHort and others in the industry, the House of Representatives failed to renew the Returning Worker Exemption, a policy that helps ensure that small and seasonal businesses have an adequate workforce for the peak spring season.

Read More
americanhort-hort-scholars

December 15, 2016

HortScholars Program Is Open For 2017 Applications

Presented by AmericanHort, the program is open to students in a horticulture-related degree program, and recipients will have exclusive opportunities for in-depth discussions with industry leaders at Cultivate’17.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries Bright Young Talent

December 13, 2016

Emergent Networking Event On Deck At MANTS 2017

Emergent, the collective group of young horticulture professionals who represent the next generation of growing, will host a reception on Wednesday, Jan. 11, after the MANTS tradeshow floor closes.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-veterans-workforce

December 13, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Navigates The H-2A Program

Joe Bailey, Human Resources Director at Bailey Nurseries says each operation has to analyze their situation and decide for themselves if the H-2A program is right for them.

Read More