Catalog Design Handbook

7. Text

Great product photography, compelling product features, and competitive pricing can transform prospects into purchasers—but only if your catalog copy conveys your product story and marketing messages effectively. As you review the text for your catalog, read it from the point of view of your likely customers, and enlist trusted colleagues to provide feedback as well.

Remember that your expert knowledge and opinion of what you sell may not reflect the same interests and concerns that motivate your customers.

Your text must answer their questions and respond to their concerns. To help make your text as insightful and effective as possible, write or commission it based on your knowledge of how your customers think, what they buy, and why they choose the items they purchase.

Remember to consider voice or tone, as well as factual content, in producing the text content for your catalog.

The voice represents the personality of your catalog, the invisible salesperson who speaks to your customers through its pages and delivers your sales message. Only you can decide if that voice should be conversational, like a message from a knowledgeable and trusted friend, or the formal phraseology of an authority figure or neutral observer.

Simple writing choices, such as the use or avoidance of contractions (“can’t” for “cannot,” “it’s” for “it is,” and so on), can go a long way toward establishing the voice of your catalog. Consumer products may make obvious candidates for conversational copy, whereas scientific or technical products may benefit from a more-formal tone.

Tip: If you write your own catalog copy, set it aside for several days after you complete it so you can review it objectively. Freshly written text can be difficult to evaluate because you know what you meant to say and read with an ear to your intended message rather than what you actually said.

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