10 Innovative Ways to Make Your Sales Catalog Pop!

sales catalog

6 Minute Read

As you consider the development of your next sales catalog, it’s significant to ensure that the final piece is compelling to your target market. Besides your website and other corresponding collateral, a catalog is an opportunity for you to thoroughly represent your business in more detail. It becomes a powerful tool in your arsenal as it highlights exactly how you want your business to be perceived by potential clients.

A sales catalog becomes a forum used to showcase your work, as well as your creativity. Besides a possible business card exchange, your catalog may be the first impression a prospect has of your company. Why not create a memorable, lasting impression? A few reasons why it’s vital for you to be as unique and innovative as possible! Check out our top 10 Innovative Ways to Make Your Sales Catalog Pop!

1. Use Creative Binding Techniques

The binding technique that you select may fuse its very own unique look into your catalog. The method you choose becomes integral to your content flow, tactile experience, and allows your pages be more interactive. There are hundreds of different choices of materials, widths, thicknesses, colors, and placement within each category of bindery in which to choose from.
You can stitch, glue, sew, case, coil, or even use screws, eyelets, and rings. Some of the more popular styles are saddle stitch, perfect bind, and spiral. But there’s so much more out there than just these choices. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Bindery is often overlooked, yet it truly helps expand your creativity. It will give your brand an upper hand by allowing you to develop a unique style to showcase your products. Afterall, it’s all in the details.

2. Choose the Right Paper

When it comes to paper, choose something of quality. Determine the surface strength, tear strength, and tensile strength. There are even water and tear-proof stocks available so think about how your catalog will be used and in what setting. It may be of interest to consider an environmentally friendly choice for your business.

Another essential component of paper choice is the finish. Some of the more popular finishes include uncoated, matte, satin, gloss, and silk finished papers. A few of these names may be interchangeable depending on the manufacturer. Some fancier styles you can use are metallic, felt, kraft, laid, wove, parchment, linen, and pearlescent to name a few. Most paper companies, although difficult to get these days, still produce paper swatch books. In the case you want to peruse one, most design firms can get their hands on them for you.

3. Separate Sections/Chapters With Tabs

Page dividers can be used in your catalog in a variety of ways, explicitly customized to your liking. These are an excellent way for the reader to easily browse through different sections of your catalog to quickly find what they need. Dividers are especially useful if your finished piece has a double-digit page count. Make sure that you select a durable covering for the tabs (laminate is an excellent option) or at the very least, a durable cardstock to ensure their protection and longevity over time and hard use. Color coding is an excellent way to distinguish sections so tie them to a specific hue for a quicker read. Avoid overly-stylish shaped tabs that may become problematic with tearing later.

4. Emboss Your Logo and Other Graphic Elements

A great way to give your sales catalog an elegant and chic feel is to use embossing techniques. Not only will this tactile texture call attention to your most critical graphic elements, but it will give your brand a sophisticated look. Your logo may be a natural choice to emboss, but don’t forget other brand elements.

Consider embossing images, patterns, step-and-repeats, textures, or even an area where there’s no ink at all for a very slick, subtle look. Try combining embossing with foil stamping or Spot UV to make text and graphics really pop!

5. ‘Wow’ with Die Cuts

If you are planning to upgrade your catalog from boring to soaring, die cuts are a must. Showcase your brand’s uniqueness and think of clever ways to incorporate them when possible. The best die cuts are usually ones that surprise and delight, reveal something below or inside them, or are less obvious than one would think. Not only are die cuts a tremendous way to elevate your brand, but if there is a specific product or service that you want to highlight, a die-cut can draw attention to it in a unique way.

6. Select a Unique Size Format

No size is wrong but think of the application, how your clients will receive it, and of course, how they will use your catalog. In the age of digital/short-run printing, if you’re running small quantities, gone are the days of worrying about custom anything. Size/formats are unlimited so think outside the box. If running larger amounts, you should always discuss with your production partner first the implications of size as sometimes reducing the footprint of a piece will reduce cost by allowing them to place it on a smaller press.

A great place to start is to think about how much information you want to showcase. If you want to include a variety of photos, imagery, and text, then it may be a better choice to use a larger size to avoid congestion or clutter. We still find that 5.5” x 8.5”and 8.5″ x 11″ are very common sizes today, but no one says you have to be common.

7. Print on Vellum Paper

It may sound a bit old school at first, but it can still be fashionable if used interestingly. Translucent vellum is a high-quality paper initially made from calf’s skin. Two popular translucent vellums are Glama Natural and UV/Ultra II. You can also get vellum in a variety of different colors. Layer up the paper, overlap images, and add depth and dimension. It can help deliver a very cool ombré effect, or a blending of tints, shades, and color hues. Layering can also help attract the reader to specific layers that you want to stand out. You can even emboss vellum to add subtle texture to your designs by using heat embossing.

8. Incorporate Spot Varnish

One of our favorite effects hands down is spot varnish coating (or Spot UV). It is a high gloss coating applied to a particular area of a printed page. This technique can enhance different aspects of your catalog, as well as protect its color. It’s considered a very high-end effect, but the good news is, it’s not going to break the bank. You can also use varnish coating in a flood coat fashion, edge to edge, for a super high gloss sheen. This transparent layer helps to keep moisture and damage out so you can preserve your catalog for longer. Note that Spot UV cannot be used on an uncoated stock due to its sponge-like absorption.

9. Make it Special with Foil Stamping

If you plan on making your catalog irresistible, try foil stamping. Also known as foil application, this process involves applying metallic or pigmented foil onto a solid surface by two heated dies that are pressed onto foil. You can choose to make this permanently bond to the surface. This leaves behind a luminous design with gorgeous pops of color. Use a matte pigment foil, a specialty foil-like wood grain and leather, or even try a holographic foil. You may also use a gloss pigment foil for a pop of brilliant color. Foil stamping is also used many times with embossing to create a lustrous, 3D effect.

10. Fragrance Your Papers

Typically found in advertising more than other areas, scented-paper is a unique way to grab readers by the nose and engage them differently. So why not embed it in your next catalog? If appropriate for your industry, using fragranced paper can add dimension and encourage significant consumer attention. According to GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research, fragrance ads attract more consumer attention than regular ads and they’re not only being used by fragrance marketers. Forbes magazine writes, “On average, 64% of readers read one of the scented paper ads, compared to 54% of readers, again on average, who read any of the ads—a 19% lift in advertising “stopping power.” Scented paper typically includes a subtext inviting readers to “rub here” or “scratch and sniff here” to experience the scent of a product. According to Forbes Magazine, on average, one in six readers who read a scented paper ad, went the extra step and activated the scent.


My team and I at Costello Creative Group have been helping businesses solve communication challenges since 2012. Prior to starting my firm, I spent eight years gaining powerful insights as an Art Director supporting global Marketing & Account teams for one of the largest Flavor & Fragrance organizations in the world. CCG’s focus in the F&F sector came naturally, but we continue to work cross-industry to maintain our diversity in both our thinking and creative approach. We partner long-term with clients to support them with everything from ad campaigns, digital marketing, branding and visual identity initiatives, to sales collateral, packaging, sales kits, and trade show materials.

To learn more about working with us, please visit Our Firm and our FAQ.

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