The Power of Customized PDF Catalogs

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When working with a multitude of online and offline channels, at a certain point, you’ll find yourself sending one catalog after another. If you’re like many companies, you may simply duplicate your print catalog. Seemingly, this sounds like a reasonable solution. However, it may unfortunately mean you are missing out on the potential power of digital catalogs

In today’s not only digital but also rapidly progressing world, failing to take advantage of faster, better solutions will result in a high cost for little reward. In other words, you’re definitely leaving money on the table.

To get more bang for your buck, consider implementing customized PDF catalogs to benefit your company.

What are customized PDF catalogs?

A PDF catalog is a highly engaging, custom-built digital deployment of the classic print catalog. Using innovative software, you can now create catalogs made-to-order. This means you can tailor them for your company’s aims at any given moment.

A catalog in PDF format is built for efficiency. It simplifies the process of distributing to all your retail-partners, at no printing or mailing costs.

Like many digital materials, customized catalog software allows companies to design and modify their catalog quickly. Certainly much quicker than the typical cycle of creating a print catalog.

What’s the difference between print and customized PDF catalogs?

When we think of the word “catalog,” many imagine a thick, heavy book filled with pages of endless products.

According to Gartner, a product catalog…

“Contains all commercial product information that enables product marketing managers to define and map new product offerings. This encompasses certain sets of tools that allow configuration of new products and service bundles, pricing and discounts.”

The original print catalog aimed to grow sales. By featuring all products and with detailed specs, buyers could make an informed decision. People had all of a company’s product information at their disposal, to pick up the phone or go in-store to buy. Or in more recent decades, print catalog directed customers online. 

The essence of a catalog has remained the same. The only difference is that a digital catalog is exactly that – an online database or a PDF collateral that companies can send to whomever they want with the click of a button. Particularly with dealers and retail-partners, with whom you’d ideally like to close a deal quickly, customized PDF catalogs are immensely useful. 

Let’s get more in-depth with the potential benefits that customized PDF catalogs offer your company.

Magazine in the hands

Customized PDF Catalogs Improve Relevancy

Customized digital catalogs enable you to deliver targeted catalogs to your audience. Companies have many channels, and you may as well. Subsequently, you’ll have to send catalogs with tailored content to the audience that frequents each channel. Whether you call them buyer personas or market segments, it’s important to tap into relevancy when marketing to them.

Relevancy will entail ways to personalize and connect with a particular audience. It means speaking to them in an industry-specific, relatable manner that gives a sense of understanding of their pain points, needs, and desires. Naturally, this can be more complex than we’d prefer.

Customized PDF catalogs are exceptional regarding relevancy because they offer two benefits.

  1. Avoid the overhead cost of publishing multiple catalogs
  2. Streamline personalization to buyer personas

In short, PDF catalogs simplify the process of targeting to multiple sales channels. With print catalogs, many companies can’t even imagine the overhead costs of producing a catalog relevant to each channel. One for Amazon, one for this retail partner, one for that dealer, and so on.

With digital catalogs, it’s easier to create literally as many copies as needed, and personalize each one with custom content.

What is the detrimental cost of print catalogs?

A general print catalog annually or biannually might not be so bad. But when you’re talking about deploying a catalog tailored to each of your retail channels, it becomes a problem.

Printing and mailing are pretty costly and time-intensive, and that’s without taking a multichannel organization into consideration. Nowadays, it’s incredibly valuable to sell and market to various endpoints. Frankly, print catalogs don’t really age well with that goal. 

Even more, there’s a growing necessity of relevance – to each channel’s frequent audience. Going with a general message wouldn’t work. In fact, it would actually be very inefficient if the catalog’s branding refrains from having a customer-oriented focus. As many would attest to, marketing to everyone is the same as marketing to no one at all.

Improving relevancy with buyer personas and personalization

A catalog that is relevant means its content is tailored to not only the primary target audience but also each channel’s buyer personas. Think of your primary audience as the umbrella group of people who are most in need of your products. Within that group, there are sub-groups – buyer personas – each with more specific goals or characteristics that distinguish them.

While ideological, a buyer persona is incredibly vital to creating a custom catalog that is hyper-specialized for that profile.

Using previous purchasing behavior and customer demographics (as we’ll discuss later on with tracking analytics), you can customize PDF catalogs to make the audience feel seen and heard. Customized PDF catalogs, due to their excellent functionality and flexibility, are perfect for this. Just several tweaks to a catalog can easily make it speak to a completely different buyer persona. Each digital catalog becomes a personalized experience.

With a multichannel business, you have got to know to whom you’re selling and marketing. On every retail channel.

Having a good idea of each buyer persona, or each representation of your ideal target buyer (and you could have several) helps in your catalog creation process. This knowledge permits you to tailor the content to match your persona’s goals and preferences.

With the right balance of market research and demographics, you can personalize your content to each audience. 

Use Templates to Speed Up Creation

In ecommerce and frankly, retail in general, speed is everything.

Using customized PDF catalogs offer a much faster process. Whether you’re talking print or digital, creating a catalog layout from scratch every single time is a waste of time. In fact, this may avert many from investing in digital catalogs. You may prefer to stick to the original form of publishing a periodical, standard-layout company catalog.

Luckily, alongside technological advancement, come solutions that make adaptation and implementation so much simpler.

For example, a product information management system like Catsy acts as a catalog creation database. Software such as this provides a plethora of template options, ready-to-go. That way, you don’t waste time with all the tedious design intricacies. Instead, a template offers a foundation with which to work.

create pdf catalog templates

What is a customized PDF catalog template exactly?

Stop fumbling around on InDesign and use templates to your advantage.

The most time-stealing part of catalog creation is designing the layout. That’s why templates are vital. Templates save time while giving you an aesthetically pleasing layout. Ranging from professional to specific, templates might come in a spec sheet form or they might organize products by group. Choose the one that best matches your goal and buyer profile. 

Despite the standardized template, companies are still free to customize their catalog. It’s the perfect balance of efficiency and custom branding.

Template options and data imports

Data imports allow you to transfer data from external sources. For example, a product information management solution already has products stored on the hub. When it comes to creating a catalog, you need only click and all desired product data – from the PIM, your ERP if you have one, and any other imports – populate the PDF.

The template options that Catsy PIM software has includes layouts that work for any industry.

  • Item templates
  • Group templates
  • Spec sheet templates
  • Image-heavy templates

Regarding speed, ready-to-go templates are excellent for saving time. When all you need to do is fill in the necessary information, it’s takes off a huge load. With software that handles product information, it’s even easier. Because it generates templated catalog designs, and the product data is already centralized and ready, there are no extra steps.  

Track Analytics and Optimize

Data makes the business world go ‘round.

Analytics are important for not only gauging how you’re doing but also for informing your future decisions. All of your digital channels offer a lot of data, analytics, and feedback. That includes analytics about your customized PDF digital catalogs. 

The ability to track analytics is a major difference between print and digital catalogs. You just can’t get that information with print catalogs. Therefore, use data about readers who view your PDF catalog to optimize your future catalogs. 

computer with analytics customized pdf catalog

What data can you track?

How a reader interacts with your catalog can give you a lot of valuable intel. For example, the time someone spends on your catalog, or which pages or section receives the most views, or links with the most click-throughs. These analytics say much about what’s working and what needs more attention for next time. 

Optimizing your customized PDF catalog

Analytics are useless if you don’t continually improve your catalog.

By optimizing, we mean updating the layout, testing design techniques, product merchandising, and other decisions regarding the catalog. Only time and reassessment will provide you the best version catalog for your target market.

Analytics steer you so you’re not in the dark about what you’re doing.

Use a Content Management System

Switching over to PDF catalogs opens up the ability to use a content management system. Forget about manually adding product data into each catalog you construct. Rather, use a centralized database of your products, marketing copy, digital assets, technical specs, and other essential components. 

When you implement a CMS, it helps maintain the easy creation of customized PDF catalogs. It permits you to populate the catalog with accurate product data, reading errors, or bad information.

What is a content management system (CMS)?

Exactly what it sounds like. Software built to store, organize, and facilitate the structured creation of various content. You may be familiar with things like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace, which are all-purpose forms of content management.

In the eCommerce realm, a CMS is specialized for the generation of product content in particular. Anything from written copy, product descriptions, and specs, and other details, as well as digital assets like photos, videos, banners, graphics, and PDFs. Some PIM software combines the ability to create content and manage digital assets: a robust PIM and DAM integration.

If you want to get even more specific, that is systems like catalog management software. Such a solution, similar to PIM, is finetuned for storing product data for the purpose of catalog creation.

Why use a content management system (CMS)?

For customized PDF catalogs, a CMS is especially helpful because it prepares all your product data. With every catalog you set off to create, the data is ready at your fingertips. No gathering and searching required. It saves time too. 

Perhaps more importantly, it prevents bad data. The elusive, yet horribly dangerous “bad product data” constitutes a major issue for companies. In any industry. When you manage a laundry list of products and their attributes, there’s a higher risk for…

  • Data errors
  • Inaccuracies
  • Inconsistencies
  • Missing data
  • Duplicate data

No one wants to put so much work into a catalog, only to find some incorrect product data. 

Customized PDF catalogs and preventing bad information 

With print, you’ll need to put in extra effort to avoid mistakes. Once the catalog is out, there’s no redo. With the quality assurance that a CMS provides, plus the ease of deploying customized PDF catalogs in a snap, you can really take control of your data.

Extend Print Content

Digital customized PDF catalogs not only improve your sales but also augment your print collateral.

When you focus wholly on print catalogs, it limits you in many ways. After all, there are only a set number of pages to fill. When you have an omnichannel strategy, there’s a certain inflexibility in the ease at which you can distribute across and between channels. Simply, the process involves more steps. 

For example, a print catalog offers a physical touchpoint that can entice prospects to go to online or offline points-of-sales. Someone could read a catalog and pick up the phone to order. Or they may go to the website and buy online. Perhaps they prefer to visit the physical store. While these are all potential routes to ramp up sales, they are more round-about in guiding potential customers to a company’s desired outcome. A digital catalog links directly to the online ordering page. So there’s less risk of losing prospects along the way.

As for flexibility, a customized PDF catalog offers more options for how to showcase products. For example, it’s a lot easier to place videos and links to other forms of rich media. Filling the pages with as much detailed product information as you want is possible. Furthermore, tweaking the layout is largely up to you.

Customized PDF catalogs are more sustainable.

Both environmentally and cost-wise, digital catalogs are a much more sustainable option. For one, you get to save money from reducing printing costs. Consider that print takes a lot of paper, ink, and distribution expenses. Mailing has only gotten more expensive over the years.

For another, going digital saves a lot of trees. More and more B2B companies are appreciating sustainable business practices today than ever. As many as 62% of business executives consider sustainability to be important in increasing the competitive edge.

Reclaim your money (don’t leave it on the table).

A lot of companies struggle with wasting time and costs. Switching to customized PDF catalogs offers a lot of value in return for an overall easier time. With its ability to personalize to the right audience, help with optimizing your catalog with data-driven information, and improving how companies manage content – there’s a lot in store.

Product information management further simplifies the implementation of PDF catalogs. Maximize your potential with an exceptional print and digital catalog strategy. With a modern PIM system, you can accommodate your multichannel organization with all the value and none of the trouble.


Product information management (PIM) is a catalog software tool built to speed products to market.

Digital asset management (DAM) is a software used to organize and enrich digital assets.