Trade Marketing Insights

7 Tips To Transform Your B2B Product Catalogue Into A Sales Machine

Posted by Callum Hornigold on 10-Aug-2018 09:21:00
Callum Hornigold
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Why Read?

This article will explain the essential elements of a product catalogue / trade catalogue design to help you:

  • Increase the number of retailers that stock your products.
  • Increase the number of products stocked by each retailer.
  • Turn your retailers' sales teams into brand advocates to maximise product sales.

Oneida Trade Catalogue

The product catalogue is the salesman’s bible.

And within B2B sales, it’s often a trade marketing manager’s secret weapon to help get their products ranged in retailers.

But you have to get it right.

An uninspiring B2B product catalogue could result in a loss of interest from your retailers and, inevitably, lost sales opportunities.

After years of experience in creating product catalogues for some of the world’s leading manufacturers such as Scotts Miracle-Gro and Everyware, we’ve discovered good product catalogue design is both an art and a science.

In this article, I’m going to reveal seven expert tips to transform your product catalogue into both a work of art and a sales machine. 


1. Get It Right


When considering your B2B product catalogue design, you should treat it like a first date.

On your first date, you’re most likely to woo them by sharing your wittiest anecdotes, your best experiences and your finest qualities.

You leave the less glamourous qualities until later (once they’re comfortable you’re not a psycho).

The same goes for your product catalogue.

Top tip: You should create a hierarchy of products in your product catalogue. Wow them straight away with your best-sellers and assign more space for products that have the best profit margins.

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But to do that you need to know how to optimise your catalogue for the best-selling products…


product catalogue design Cole & Mason


Build your trade catalogue, step-by-step. Click here to download 'The Sales-Driven B2B Product Catalogue Checklist', featuring advice from our trade marketing experts to guide you through the process.

2. Perform A Product Catalogue 'Squinch' Analysis


In order to maximise sales, how do you decide how much space to allocate on the page for each product?

Top tip: Performing a 'squinch' (square-inch) analysis is an accurate and profit-driven method of prioritising products in your product catalogue according to how much money they make. 

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It’s used by any good trade marketer and enables you to highlight the products that give you the most profit.

First, measure the space taken by your product — 
let's call it Product A .

The space taken by product A will include the rectangular area on a page occupied by your product’s illustration, copy, order number, white space and price.

This is done with a simple formula, in inches: width x height = area (square inches). For the sake of simplicity, let’s say it’s 5 x 4 inches: 20 square inches.

Next, calculate Product A’s profit per square inch by dividing the product’s profit from sales by the space it takes up on the page.

Assuming Product A’s profit from sales are £20,000, then divide 20,000 by 20 = £1000 profit per square inch.

Repeat this formula for your entire product catalogue.

Next, find the average profit per square inch for your entire catalogue by adding all of your products’ profit per square inch together, then dividing by the number of products in the catalogue.

Takes you back to high school maths doesn’t it?

It may look daunting but when you actually begin doing it it's rather simple.


Let's assume your average profit per square inch is £1200.

Now you'll create an index, calculated by dividing the profit per square inch of your product by the average profit per square inch for the entire catalogue.

Using our example, Product A’s £1000 profit per square inch, divided by your average profit per square inch of £1200.

1000 / 1200 = 0.83

A score of 1 is average. A score below 1 is below average and a score above 1 is, you guessed it, above average.

With a score of 0.83, Product A's profit is below average, so we should give less priority to Product A and more to the better performing products.

Obviously there will be exceptions  sometimes you may need to shift old stock, in which case you can give it special attention in order to increase sales. 

But the squinch analysis is a fantastic starting-point, and one which helps the trade marketer prioritise products in order to maximise sales.

While we’re on the subject of sales…

Top tip: Don’t neglect the cover opportunity for your product catalogue. As all magazine publishers recognise, your cover is the most valuable real estate in your publication. Don’t waste it!

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3. Show Your Products In Their Best Light


Let’s go back to the dating analogy.

Tired of living on your own with 12 cats for company, you decide to join a dating site.

Do you put up the picture of you last Saturday night where you’re blurry eyed with red-wine stained teeth?

Of course not.

You post the one that shows off your best features.

Top tip: It’s essential to showcase your products in their best light in order to make them a more attractive proposition for the retailer.

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Below, you can see an example of how we brought salt crushers and pepper mills to life in Cole & Mason’s product catalogue.


product calalogue design Cole & Mason


The crisp photography and contrasting food colours against the dark backdrop make the product leap from the page, while the visual imagery evokes an exotic and mouth-watering menagerie of flavours.

The food is carefully placed to adorn the product, as if to frame a masterpiece.

Call us fickle, but it just goes to show, looks are important.


4. Go With The Flow


So far so good!

We're creating a catalogue that's both visually appealing and geared towards sales. But large trade catalogues can get pretty unwieldy.

We need to think about the user experience — 
‘flow’ is something that's often overlooked.

Create natural breaks in the catalogue.

Top Tip: For the ease of the retailer, it’s essential you divide your product catalogue into sections containing specific product categories, or sections containing products for a specific purpose.

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Take for example the shots of pages below from a product catalogue we produced for Scotts, a global leader in garden care.

The catalogue is clearly divided into sections according to the product’s purpose, whether it be seeding solutions or lawn care.


product catalogue design Scotts


Another important element is your index page. It needs to be accurate and comprehensive.


Top tip: Your index page is one of the most viewed pages in your product catalogue, so make sure you feature a few of your key lines or best-sellers here.

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It’s also important to be consistent in layout and design.

Your product catalogue needs to have an overarching design theme which permeates every page.

A good way of doing this is to define the fonts and page layouts you'll use throughout, but inject colour variations from a pre-designed palette you have chosen that best reflects your company brand.

You can then separate each section with a different coloured heading, making your catalogue easier to navigate.

Here’s another example of a trade catalogue we produced for Everyware to demonstrate their exquisite cutlery and crockery.

The colours make it visually appealing for the retailer, yet the logical structure and consistent theme avoid confusion and place emphasis on the products.


product catalogue design Everyware


5. Make It Easy To Order


So, you’ve nearly got ‘em.

The retailer is salivating over your fine range and is seriously considering ordering but still wants more information to make a purchase decision.

Now what?

It’s time to hit the ball out of the park.

Top tip: If your product catalogue is in print form, you can use QR codes that enable the retailer to scan the product on their phone, linking them to more detailed information online.

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We incorporated QR codes for this very reason in Scotts' trade catalogue.




The QR code could be a more detailed description, pricing, an order portal or a product video. It’s better to show them how the product works than tell them.

You can take things a step further by creating a retailer engagement portal, designed to drive engagement with the retailer’s sales team to push your product.

(I’ll go into detail about this later in the article, it’s exciting stuff!)

If you include product barcodes in your catalogue, your customer can actually scan the codes as they progress through the catalogue and build their order as they go.

So, the retailer is about to make a purchase. Mission accomplished.

But wait! We’re not done yet.


6. Maximise Sales


It’s simple.

Making a sale is good, but making 10 sales is better.

Top tip: When creating your trade catalogue, seize the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell products with better profit margins for the retailer.

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Up-sell: 'If you’re buying this product, why not upgrade to this higher quality item for higher profit margins.'

Cross-sell: Just like an online shopping experience, add complementary product details such as, 'Customers who purchased this product, also purchased…' or, 'This product works perfectly with…'

Name the product (include an image if possible) and tell them which page it’s on. You could also include the barcode — so they can order it there and then. (Barcodes also include the product code number.)

Up-selling and cross-selling benefit you by:

  • Generating more profit and a faster route to ROI
  • Providing a more invested customer with a higher lifetime value
  • Reducing customer acquisition costs


Up-selling and cross-selling benefit the retailer by:

  • Saving them time as they don’t have to keep coming back to order
  • Getting better value products to sell
  • Potentially getting a better deal


Another option is bundling your products and offering a discounted rate.

If you really want to push a certain product, you could even create an advertorial to give specific attention to it.

This could be a featured case study on how well it sold in another store with quotes from happy retailers.

Remember: Don’t just sell, educate.

What are the features and benefits?

For example, Scotts lawn seed:

‘It's not just lawn seed — it's lawn seed that's hardy enough to tackle high traffic areas, will grow in both sunny and shady areas whilst releasing minerals into the ground to create a thicker, greener lawn.’


7. Get Them Hooked


Once they’ve ordered your product, you want to maximise the retailer’s in-store sales.

It’s mutually beneficial as the retailer will generate more profit and will, in turn, order more products from you.

You can gear your trade marketing efforts towards skyrocketing in-store sales.

"What is this sorcery?" I hear you say.

Remember the retailer engagement portal I mentioned earlier? This is a portal designed to educate retail sales teams about your products and offer sales incentives — and this is the future of successful trade marketing.

Top tip: Retailers want to maximise sales. Utilise an app that encourages the retailer's sales team to learn more about your products for prizes, which in turn will increase sales.

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Or, alternatively, provide the retailer’s sales team with details of how to download the app.

You could gamify it, where sales team members eran points for every product quiz they pass, or every ‘product academy’ lesson they attend through the portal.


trade engagement app


The person with the most points receives a reward at the end of the month, financial quarter or year. This could be a holiday, a TV, or some other treat to get the retail sales teams excited.

It’s a sure-fire method of deepening product knowledge, increasing sales, and is good for you, the retailer and the sales team — everyone’s a winner.

Here at WrightObara, we’re experts at creating retailer engagement programmes and apps to drive retailers' sales teams to learn more about your product and ensure it's always front of mind.

This means more sales as they're more likely to promote your product.

Contact us now to learn more or, alternatively download our Retailer Engagement Programme Datasheet.


What Next?


Trade marketing is rapidly changing and you don’t want to fall behind.

While B2B trade catalogues are just one aspect of a trade marketing manager’s varied role, there are major cultural and technological developments occurring across the board.

Why not download The Ultimate Guide To Trade Marketing?

It features exclusive advice from our trade marketing experts on every aspect of the modern trade marketing role, including:

  • Creating the perfect product proposition to secure sell-in
  • Clever tactics for getting your product ranged
  • Elite marketing strategies to increase your product's in-store sales

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Topics: trade marketing, trade catalogue, product catalogue

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