What size is YOUR catalog?

Listen, puleez, to the plaintive voices now: Before you print your next new catalog or brochure for an upcoming trade show or new season, think about this one thing: "Will this fit in a hanging file?" If not, just step away from the cute design board and return to basics immediately.
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It turns out that despite what you may have heard, read, or otherwise believed, size does matter. Well, OF COURSE, we're talking about product catalogs, and we just can't keep quiet any longer. Since the last trade show -- February we think, but can't be sure because all the trade shows are starting to run together -- we've received numerous missives by email and phone pleading with us to take companies to task for their irregular sizing.
Listen, puleez, to the plaintive voices now: Before you print your next new catalog or brochure for an upcoming trade show or new season, think about this one thing: "Will this fit in a hanging file?" If not, just step away from the cute design board and return to basics please.
One buyer for a major retailer says it best: "No matter how cool and groovy a company's new promotion pieces are -- they end up lost, and/or discarded, if they don't fit in a Pendaflex file."
This commentary is especially for those of you who feel your information deserves a "mega" format with spiral binding, a tabloid-sized tome, or a three-ring binder notebook.
Consider that the very media or buyers you are trying to impress with such creativity actually have a goal of being organized so they can find the material again when they really do need it, like when they want to MENTION your product or company in a story or BUY your products for their store. This attempt at organization means storing the catalogs each season in a standard-sized filing cabinet for -- gasp -- attempted ease at actual access and use.
Consider too that most buyers and certainly the media these days are covering multiple product categories which require a very large and diverse supply base. That means hundreds and hundreds of catalogs. We know. We are swimming in them. Drawers of them. Stacks of them. Too many.
If your company's catalog – no matter how cute, devilishly Euro-formatted, or importantly tome-like -- does not fit in normal files, where do we and the rest of the buying population put it? A number of buyers told us simply, it gets filed in the Round File (aka wastebasket) without hesitation – ouch. Many others have told us they dutifully try to file a uniquely-sized catalog or notebook where it "won't get lost" (arrgh!), but frequently waste minutes and even hours searching for that special place the specially sized company catalogs got shuffled to because "I put it someplace where it wouldn't get lost." Yeah, uh-huh.
What keeps buyers and media really, really happy? Keeping the information that gets referenced for a buy or story idea organized, handy, and all in one place is essential to getting the job done well. A concise, normal-sized, 8 1/2-x-11, all-in-one catalog WITH PRICING gets the unanimous vote from those who've contacted us or work with us. The team at SNEWS gives a hearty "hear-hear" to that. No exceptions. No fluff. No slides or photos unless requested. You know the routine.
Why? Because if your catalog fits into the standard filing system, those who use that system -- as opposed to those who use the scatter and pile method of organization -- know where a particular catalog is when it is needed for reordering, new orders, or story research.
Oh, and as long as we're sounding off, keep in mind that any business card NOT sized to fit in a standard card file, feed through a standard card scanner, or fit into a Rolodex is a card no one keeps, remembers, or follows up on. Once a SNEWS team member asked for somebody's "little card" and got just that: an itty-bitty card about half the size of a normal card with itty-bitty print. We wondered if Alice and her caterpillar had been there too.
OK, whew, we feel better now that we've gotten that off our chests. We will be able to sleep better tonight knowing all of you are actually going to size your catalogs for efficiency this year. Aren't you?
Want to sound off on this view? Email us at editorial@snewsnet.com.

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