Best Practices for Print Catalogs

Priint Americas CEO Jonathan Dropiewski recently sat down for a discussion on PIM and DAM best practices with Infoverity, a Certified priint solutions partner and global professional services firm that provides MDM and PIM strategy and implementation solutions. Infoverity helps clients to connect their creative staff with product data systems that will efficiently publish sales and marketing content in the form of electronic and printed catalogs, brochures, and flyers. Dave Nacy, Management Consultant and print subject matter expert at Infoverity, joins us today:

Dave, does Infoverity find that the print catalog is still alive for its customers?

Yes, the catalog is still very much alive. It lives on because many of our customers find that the use of catalogs, flyers, and other direct mailing materials continue to be an effective means to reach customers that produce sales. Simply put, catalogs make money.

A surprising trend has been identified – the total aggregate number of printed pages measured in annual global paper sales has remained constant in recent years - yet the number of unique catalogs and pages continues to rise.

Why is this?

In place of printing large “generic” catalogs to an entire customer base, companies are creating assortment based catalogs with content targeted to smaller pools of customers based on analytics. For example, Instead of printing one page and shipping it in a single catalog to 100,000 customers, 10 different pages are shipped to sets of 10,000 customers.

As a result, companies are challenged with creating an ever-increasing number of direct marketing pages in tighter timeframes without increasing staff.

In response, a strategy being adopted by leading organizations to address the rising demand for new direct marketing materials is to utilize a data-driven approach to print and digital asset creation. This strategy leverages product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) systems to accelerate production time, improve the quality of, and minimize the cost of creating customer facing catalogs, flyers, and brochures.

What are some of the PIM and DAM best practices that enable the creation of great catalogs in an efficient, cost-effective manner?

The first best practice is to separate content stewardship from creative ownership. Many organizations do not differentiate creative ownership of content from the important roles and tasks associated with ensuring the accuracy, completeness and consistency of product information in context to its intended channel(s) of distribution. This leads to higher catalog production costs due to process inefficiencies and avoidable rework. Data stewardship ensures that data is in compliance with data governance standards, policies, and processes. The data steward is the person responsible for the creation and maintenance of product information content. The creative person owns how that information is presented to the customer. Keeping the responsibilities of the roles separate makes the responsibility to resolve issues clearly.

The second best practice is to attribute your product data for print. Not every product or item may be destined for placement in a print asset. Identify each product and item that are to be shown in catalogs entries and tables and mark them as such in PIM. Also, mark which attributes are to be shown. A simple checkbox or purpose fields may be used in the PIM. A separate catalog or flyer classification system may be used to organize products and items. This provides the graphics designer a virtual organized checklist of which products and items are to be included in particular catalog or flyer. By using PIM to organize, identify, and sequence products, items, and their attributes; the creation of the print document in the desktop publishing system becomes seamless and removes error prone and tedious tasks from the creative process.

The third best practice is to ensure that images are “print ready.” Using a DAM establishes a single source of truth for product images, drawings, and other visually-oriented documentations. One of the things to be aware of is the difference between how colors are created and perceived on computer monitors versus how they are produced by the printing process. Using a DAM to ingest high-resolution camera images to automatically create low-resolution derivatives for the web is the best solution. That way one has both high-quality product images suitable for printing and images for quick delivery for the web. Using 300 dpi images in the CMYK color space in TIFF format for print is a good place to start. Whenever possible, use vector artwork for logos. That way, they'll scale to any size in the desktop publisher and look great when printed.

How Should Companies Prepare for Change?

Since this is a data-driven approach, it’s common that when things don’t “look right” on a page it is due to errors in the incoming data. A process needs to be put in place whereby the creative staff can have data issues quickly resolved. The emphasis on quickly resolving data issues is intentional. Catalog creation productivity drops significantly when designers are blocked waiting for data issues to be resolved. A recommended solution is to appoint a data steward to act as a single point of contact to investigate and resolve any data discrepancies uncovered in the creative process.

How can companies realize the full potential of their PIM and DAM investments?

It’s important for companies to recognize the importance of connecting the data in their PIM system and the product information and images in their DAM systems with a publishing hub such as priint:suite, which will accelerate, improve the quality of, and minimize the cost of creating customer-facing catalogs, flyers, and brochures. A publishing hub like priint:suite delivers content to the catalog page and is the third and essential component that ties the analytical data world to the creative universe. Implemented correctly, by a company like Infoverity, it enables teams to be far more efficient and able to meet the ever-growing demand for more creative presentation of product information.

Thanks Dave. For more information on Infoverity, please visit Infoverity’s partner page