You cannot always predict what the market will react to, so you may want to “test” the market with a concept with “versioning”—printing and mailing your catalog in smaller batches and across multiple dates. This process is commonly referred to as “Drops”, with each catalog drop having the pages and products “shuffled around” to move the top-selling items to the front of the catalog, and sometimes, removing items from the catalog that sell out or become back-ordered.
Catalog Mailing Strategy 101
Splitting your mailing list into several smaller mailings allows you to strategize your catalog drop dates to create windows where you analyze your sales, identify trends, and make adjustments according to market conditions. This process is often a very fast-paced and hectic one, as these “windows” between drops are sometimes as short as one to two weeks where you have to scramble to coordinate all the changes and approvals before the next drop hits. Having an experienced catalog production staff (and a world-class prepress provider like Artisan Colour) can help alleviate the chaos and stress.
The single biggest factor in a customer’s purchasing decision comes down to one variable: color. Color shouldn’t just be close—it needs to be exact to minimize customer returns. Your catalog’s product images also need to be accurate and void of any flaws that could potentially detract from a purchase. “Prepress” is the process of correcting the original photography color for the printing process, retouching the photos to improve the product’s appearance, and prepping (“prep”) the files for the printing process.
CMYK vs. RGB: What’s the Big Deal? The printing process uses 4 ink colors to recreate images (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black), commonly referred to as “CMYK” which is a subtractive color model. Computers, televisions and digital cameras use 3 colors to recreate images (Red, Green and Blue), commonly referred to as “RGB” which is an additive color model. Since these two color spaces are so very different, the colors in your photos do not translate consistently between the two, so color correction (i.e: prepress) is required to adjust for these color differences.
How Prepress Can Save You Money: Additionally, printing paper is not always bright white, so the images can look dull and lack the contrast your photography captured when originally shot. Having a prepress company fix or adjust your images minimizes the chances that your customers return their purchased products because “the color didn’t match”. Additionally, having a prepress company inspect, correct and prepare your files for the printing process will help to avoid costly “downtime” on your press run.
What’s with the Name? Artisan Colour has been providing the highest level of prepress services to the world’s most distinguished catalog brands since 1998 – after all, color is in our name. We take color seriously and choose the best artisans to give our clients the best results. You’ve most likely already seen our best work right in your very own living room. Many catalog retailers trust our company to produce their catalogs with meticulously crafted work and confident execution. Here are just a few of the catalogs that we routinely provide our catalog services for…
If your catalog circulation is 10,000 or more for your entire mailing, or your “drops” are each 10,000 or more, then you will want to print your catalog with a “web-offset printer” because these quantities are most cost-effective at this scale and above.
For circulations less than 10,000, or if you are running test mailings, catalogs for special customers/stores, or variable data catalogs, then you will want to utilize the capabilities of digital printing because of the flexibility of print runs, quicker turnaround times, variable data capabilities, and lower total cost.
On-Press: A Critical Step in The Catalog Printing Process
The scale at which an offset printing facility operates is a manufacturing marvel, complete with multi-story tall printing presses and football-field-sized departments for collating, binding, shipping, and mailing. When working with an offset printer such as Arandell, you will need to purchase your paper and “book” your press date months in advance, and have your catalog files absolutely ready for printing before your booked press date. Large catalog print runs can stretch across several days and your printer provides you the opportunity to be “on-site” for the press run to verify your catalog’s color accuracy during the print run. Artisan Colour can help with “on-press” representative there with you to help guarantee you the most accurate color for your catalog.
Keep in mind that the press date you book with your offset printer is fixed and typically not flexible. You may be charged for the press time whether you print your catalog or not!
Digitally printed catalogs offer unique marketing opportunities to your business and the recipients of your catalog with features such as variable data/variable images, personalization, quicker turnaround, better time to market, better engagement with 1-to-1 output and short-run “test” catalogs. Your files are prepared the same way as offset printing, and the results are as equal to, if not better than traditional offset printing. Artisan Colour offers a full range of digital printing services to accommodate your cataloging and mailing needs.
Whether you print digital, offset or both, having a printer that can also handle your mailing for you, will provide you huge savings in both time and cost due to their knowledge and experience with the many facets of the USPS.