Our Product Family Keeps Growing

Today we launched two new products into the MagCloud family–Digest Landscape and Flyer.

Digest Landscape is compact and ultra-portable at 8.5″ wide x 5.5″ tall. It’s perfect for portfolios, brochures, catalogs, books and more.  Simply upload an 8.5″ wide x 5.5″ tall PDF and we’ll trim it down by 0.125″ on the top and bottom and 0.25″ on the outside edge to a final size of 8.25″ wide x 5.25″ tall so it’s ready for our professional printing presses.  We’ve also updated our website preview app so users will be able to preview your publication in all it’s landscape glory.

Our double-sided, single sheet Flyer product is ideal for brief messages or content that changes often such as sales promotions, menus, product data sheets, event schedules and more. Simply upload an 8.5″ wide x 11″ tall PDF and we’ll get it ready for printing by trimming it down by 0.125″ on all sides to a final size of 8.25″ wide x 10.75″ tall.  We print Flyer publications as a single sheet with a front and back side, so if you only upload one page don’t worry we’ll automatically add a blank page for the back side.  The Flyer product does require a minimum print order of 10 copies which will be bundled into one shipping order.

We hope you enjoy these new products and would love to hear how you plan to use them in our comments section below.

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!

New Catalog Template

Looking for ways to showcase your growing line of products or services?  We have added a new catalog template to our free template collection.

This multi-page template is for Adobe InDesign users and is perfect for product or service brochures.  We’ve created a sample publication using this template to show you how easy it is to make a great looking catalog that is MagCloud-ready.

If you are new to using Adobe InDesign to create MagCloud-ready publications make sure to download our Adobe InDesign Getting Started Guide for tips on settings for trim, bleeds, image resolution and more.

Let us know what you think of the new template in our comments section below.

5 Catalog Design Essentials for Your Business

If you have a small business with a large product or service offering, odds are you have a catalog, and if you don’t, then you’ve probably wanted to create one, but didn’t know where to start. The process can be daunting–with so many elements to pull together and all sorts of design options to consider. So to help you get started, we’ve made a list of 5 tips to keep your efforts and design on track.

1. Know Your Audience

When choosing a design for your catalog, keep in mind your audience and appeal to their style, interests and demographics. Creating a sense of lifestyle will help you connect with customers and position your product as an object of their desire.

2. Reflect Your Brand

Keep your catalog style consistent with your brand style. You want to be sure they can make a connection between your website, logo, and service/products and your catalogs. Whatever you do, design with your brand in mind and be sure the voice and design of the catalog matches the voice and design of your brand. Once you have established a successful look-and-feel for your catalog, resist the temptation to change it. Repetition builds brand recognition, favorable reception and sales.

3. Use Quality Photography

All images should be of the highest quality possible. Make sure your pictures are clear and vivid, not pixilated. Poor quality images will send the message that the products are low quality. If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer, read up on blogs and forums for great tricks for taking your own product photos. Also try to mix up the type of shot. Catalogs benefit from pacing and surprise – simple silhouetted images, closeups of details, wide angles, full-bleed photographs and lifestyle shots sustain viewer interest and keep them turning to the next page.

4. Space and Layout

The most important thing about a catalog is highlighting your product, so be sure you have ample white space for each item. Cramming text and images into a page, or using the exact same layout throughout the document will make it look stale and won’t encourage your customers to really pause and look over the whole spread. A consistent layout throughout the catalog enhances readability but can become boring, so be sure to break up the monotony of a predictable layout by including a unique page or two to highlight a favorite product or create an editorial opportunity for your customer to connect with the product.

5. Use fonts and color wisely

Be sure to use fonts that fit your brand’s style. If you have a children’s apparel brand, your typeface selections will be very different than if you have a luxury spa brand. Do not go overboard with typefaces, it’s probably best to limit your selection to just three. You can read more about this in our recent typography blog post.

Start Planning and Then Start Publishing

There aren’t any hard and fast rules for creating your catalog, just remember to keep it simple so that your product attracts more attention than your design. After all, the objective is to sell more, right?

A good starting point is to jott down words that come to mind when describing your brand: Is it whimsical? Sophisticated? Luxurious? Fun? These words will make the perfect litmus test as you assemble your catalog. Then every step along the way you can ask yourself, is this publication reflecting this image?

Now that you are ready to get started, take a look at some of the great examples of catalogs on MagCloud. We hope they will help inspire you. Already published a catalog with MagCloud? Share it below in the comments!





Trends and Resources For Great Looking Business Collateral

How you tell your business story can be the difference between turning a lead into a new customer or just a lost opportunity.

Eye catching and compelling business collateral plays an important role in buying decisions.  According to Eccolo Media’s “2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report,” 83% of B2B technology purchasers say they had used brochures within the previous six months to evaluate a prospective purchase, 76% referred to white papers, followed by 67% who used case studies.

And great collateral isn’t just for big business, heavy investment in marketing collateral is also a key 2011 trend for Small Business as well.

So how do you create business collateral that stands out and gets your audience engaged?

1. Tell A Story.  Stories intrigue, keep our interest and help us convey information in an engaging way.  Conveying your brand promise or promoting your new product or service as a narrative helps your audience understand the possibility and gives them a call to action to learn more.  Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, offers some great insight into storytelling for business.

2. Bring Your Story To Life.  A story is more than words. You can use pictures, graphs, tables, screen shots, pull quotes from customers etc. − anything that will help visually convey your story, and underscore your viewpoint and competitive advantage.  There is a plethora of free tools to make creating charts and diagrams super easy.  If you want to push your story to a new visual level consider designing and incorporating infographics.  Infographics have been heavily used by B2C and B2B companies in the past few years to help convey complex information and trends.  Check out the Cool Infographics Blog, Weloveinfographics or Datavis for some infographic inspiration.

3. Invest in Design.  You don’t have to break your business piggy bank to design great looking collateral.  There are lots of desktop publishing applications that make brochure, newsletter, program and catalog design easy. Depending on your skill level and budget there is a spectrum of solutions including Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXPress, Apple Pages and Adobe InDesign.  Most of these programs also include templates or you can check out some of MagCloud’s free business templates as well.

4. Ask for Help.  If you are having trouble getting started there are lots of tutorials and resources to put you on the right path.  Microsoft for example offers a suite of tutorials for Publisher, there are forums for Adobe InDesign or head on over to Lynda.com for an array of business and software online courses. Or you can always consider outsourcing your business collateral design to a third-party or agency such as MagCloud partners HP Logoworks or Madison Ave. Collective.

5. Leverage the Web.  Printing and updating your business collateral no longer needs to be complex, time-consuming and expensive.  Thanks to new print on demand services like MagCloud you can upload a PDF of your collateral and have it printed and delivered to your customers without ever leaving your desk.  Need to change a product spec in your brochure or add a new offering to your catalog? No problem, simply upload a new version of your PDF.  The web also offers you the flexibility to take the same PDF you use for print and make it available digitally for reading on a PC or mobile device giving your audience choice.  Once you have your printed or digital publication ready, it’s easy to build an online marketing plan around it.  Make your content readily accessible and easy to share not only via your website but wherever your audience would be most receptive to your message–social networks, forums, blogs etc.  You spent all that time and effort creating it so don’t forget to make it easy to find.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great looking brochures, newsletters, event programs and catalogs published on MagCloud, so we thought we would share a few of our favorites to help inspire you.

Axses Travel Platform

Cubic Machinery

High Points Promotional

Natural Homes

Overland Sourcebook

Toobydoo

Share any great resources or tips you’ve found useful in creating your business collateral in the comments section below.

Give Your Microsoft Publisher Documents the Pro Treatment

Take your Microsoft Publisher documents to a new level with professional quality print and digital distribution.

Create professional looking print and digital publications you can send to clients, colleagues, friends and family with Microsoft Publisher and HP MagCloud.

Order 1 or 1000 copies and we will print and ship them anywhere in the world. You can even make your publication available in digital format for easy viewing on any computer or mobile device.

Simply export your Microsoft Publisher file to PDF, upload it to MagCloud and we’ll take care of printing, distribution and shipping so you can focus on the important stuff…creating great content.

Need a little help creating your publication and getting it ready for professional printing?  We offer step-by-step instructions and templates specifically for Microsoft Publisher users to get you started.

Brochure Template 1
Brochure Template 2
Brochure Template 3
Brochure Template 4
Catalog/Portfolio Template 1
Catalog/Portfolio Template 2
Catalog/Portfolio Template 3

So whether you are creating a business portfolio, company brochure, customer newsletter or product catalog, Microsoft Publisher and HP MagCloud will take your publication from concept to printed publication with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Let us know in the comments section how you are using Microsoft Publisher and MagCloud.

Put MagCloud to Work

You heard that right. MagCloud can help bring your professional projects to life in print and digital. Our service is a great way to showcase your work to customers, clients, colleagues, partners etc.

Besides magazines, we’ve seen a variety of creative ways that MagCloud customers have used our service for their most demanding business needs.  So whether you are creating a portfolio for client meetings, company brochure, customer newsletter or product catalog, MagCloud will take your publication from PDF to printed magazine and digital download with just a few clicks of the mouse. Planning an event? We’ve got you covered there too. Our event planners and marketing customers have utilized MagCloud to print event souvenir programs, meeting programs, handouts and brochures. You can even publish your workshop manuals with us too.

Whatever the purpose – fun, commemorative, professional or informational – there are no boundaries to the way people are using MagCloud. Let us bring your story to life. MagCloud can help promote your company, products and services in both professional quality print format or digitally for viewing on a PC or mobile device. Whether you are ordering 1 or 1000 copies, MagCloud will ship your business documents to customers and colleagues all over the world. Visit magcloud.com/work and learn about the many ways we can help you make your next gallery exhibit, client meeting, workshop, convention and fundraising event that much better.

What other ways do you use MagCloud? Share your past, current projects and future ideas in the comment section below.