Q+A with Rachael Cavallo of Palu Ltd.

Rachael Cavallo refers to her job title as “magician.” She and her coworkers – her fellow “magicians” – run Seattle-based Palu Ltd., specializing in the design and manufacture of affordable home furnishings. It might take a bit of magic, she says, to combine fine craftsmanship, quality materials and contemporary style with the needs of an increasingly green world – yet Palu remains committed to environmental responsibility in all aspects of its business.

And when it comes to publishing catalog that help sell Palu products, Cavallo leaves the magic to MagCloud. “It’s been absolutely wonderful – and we especially appreciate the fast turnaround,” she says. “I can’t recommend MagCloud highly enough.”

  Tell us a little bit about Palu.

Rachael Cavallo We like to imagine things differently. From a broad range of chairs to cabinets, dining tables, mirrors and more, our line offers versatile furniture that is elegant, appropriate and approachable.

We recognize that the business of making furniture can have a heavy impact on our environment and our world. We are constantly working to minimize the impact we have and to promote positive change. We actively support sustainable and accountable forest management, fair labor practices, energy conservation, recycling, transparency and innovation in everything we do.

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

RC We used to do a catalog with each item having an individual page, and we assembled all of the pages into binders. It didn’t take long, though, for customers’ binders to become unorganized – especially when we’d add or discontinue items. If we weren’t there to update the customers’ binders personally, it just wasn’t working. Plus, our printer wasn’t doing a very good job. So we needed a new platform.

We found MagCloud and began creating individual booklets by room. So we have a bedroom booklet, a dining room booklet, a living room booklet, one for accessories – and the like. So now when we have revisions, we just alert customers to the revised booklets and they can order them directly from MagCloud.

  How has MagCloud improved your business?

RC I like that we can do very small print runs. We can easily put together a 12-page catalog every few months, print out a few and send those to anyone who’s interested in what we have to offer. We’ll do about 400 or 500 at a time. And if we need, say, three more, then we order just three more. Or 300 more. The quantity is never a problem.

The expense is so small compared with the benefit of always having something for customers to hold on to. That’s always been the challenge for us.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

RC Learn your publishing software. I think that’s the most important tip I can give. We use InDesign, and we had a local designer create 10 styles of a template that we use on a regular basis. InDesign is a wonderful tool. Learn to use it, and it will not fail you.

  If your catalog were an ice cream flavor, what would it be?

RC I’m going with Marionberry Swirl because vanilla is its classic base – you can’t go wrong with that. The marionberry comes from our part of the country – and our pieces definitely have a Seattle/Northwast flair. The marionberry shows that we’re classic, but with a special twist.

When it Comes to Catalogs, Content is King

Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared tips and templates to help design your catalog for MagCloud. Today we discuss catalog content, and a few best practices to keep in mind when selecting your content.

First up, images. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and you want the images you select for your catalog to speak highly of your products and services. Therefore, make sure you select high quality images for your publication (we recommend 300 dpi for printed publications), and that each image highlights the product or service you’re hoping to sell. Mixing up stand-alone product images with lifestyle imagery is a great way to offer more visual interest for the reader, just be sure that the products remain the focus regardless of the image style you select.

And where are images more prominent than on your catalog cover.  Catalog covers are critical in quickly grabbing your customer’s attention and getting them to open your publication.  MultiChannel Merchant recently published a great article discussing the key strategies in designing an effective catalog cover, which include relevance, emotion, drama and differentiaton.

Next, let’s talk about text. If you look at a lot of mainstream catalogs, you’ll notice that text is used only for detailed descriptions of the products and services being featured, but also as brief call out quotes and titles. Using text features like this help attract the reader’s attention and interest, and can be a great way to encourage the reader to linger over your catalog longer. It’s also a great opportunity to call out more marketable features of the products and services you are hoping to sell.

Similarly, smaller paragraphs of text are great for providing descriptions of your products and services, just be sure you don’t overwhelm your reader with too much text. You will want to include enough text to get your point across, but not so much that your customer loses interest halfway though.

Finally, just as important as the text and image content is how it is arranged. Since catalogs are complex by nature, it’s important to keep your content organized and clean. Having a table of contents and creating sections in your catalog can be a great way to break up a large amount of content. Also, as we’ve discussed before, using white space to break up your content is a great way to keep the focus on the products and services you’re hoping to highlight.

If you’re looking for more ideas and inspiration, check out Slodive’s 25 Best Catalog Design Inspirations.

Have any other tips to share from your own catalog creation experience? Share them in the comments below!