With the number of emergent technologies ever increasing and the amount of online commerce continuing to skyrocket, it’s easy to imagine that the humble sheet of paper feels a little bit like Jan Brady: “It’s always digital, digital, digital!”
But print marketing still has a significant role in developing and growing a brand. While perhaps lacking the flexibility of a website or digital ad that can be updated any time and as often as you want, print retains many attractive qualities to a marketer.
Print pieces carry a connotation of permanence. If you spend the time and money to develop an excellent print piece, it seems definitive, conclusive. When done well, print pieces are impressive and convey to the user that your brand is confident enough to commit your value propositions to paper. After all, when we want to confirm that a great deal really is a great deal, we still say that we want to see it “in writing.”
Print pieces also connect to an audience in a way digital marketing cannot. We may be visual creatures, and some may be aural learners, but we connect through touch when we want to feel a connection to someone or something. That tactility, the sense of holding a physical object, can create a meaningful engagement for some recipients of well-made print collateral.
Here’s a list of several print items you’re familiar with and some you may be less aware of that you can leverage to build that connection with your audience.
The Marketer’s Holy Trinity: Brochures, Flyers, and Rack Cards
Mention print marketing to someone; they’re more than likely to imagine the print marketer’s workhorse: the humble trifold brochure. Commonly seen in racks on just about every counter in every business in the country, the trifold remains popular because of its sheer effectiveness. Exactly the right size to fit in an ordinary #10 envelope, the front pocket of a briefcase, or someone’s back pocket, the trifold is still the best way to send a customer home with details about a product or service.
The steady and dependable flyer is another reliable standby in the world of print. These versatile and venerated print pieces work in so many different ways:
- Placed on a counter for easy pickup or stuffed into a shopper’s bag before they leave the site, a flyer is an excellent take-home reminder of an upcoming event or new service.
- Coupled with a bit of tape or some thumbtacks, the simple flyer is magically transformed into an inexpensive, easily distributed poster.
- Thanks to its at-a-glance nature and usually brief messaging, the flyer easily crosses the divide to become an effective digital ad without much additional design effort.
Offering the convenient #10-envelope size of the trifold and the quick-and-easy single-message simplicity of a flyer, the rack card is the go-to grab ‘n’ go solution for those trying to convey one concept quickly and efficiently. Coupons for your retail store, QR codes to drive traffic to a landing page or response form, a takeout menu for your sandwich shop, or even just a quick “Need a plumber? Call us!” message with your phone number are all great ways to utilize rack cards.
What’s that? Stationery isn’t a marketing tool? You bet your letterhead it is! People still love to get a letter in the mail, and a well-written letter from your company’s owner, founder, CEO, or fan-favorite employee is a great way to deepen customer engagement and share important information about your products, services, or operations. And when your company’s mail goes out in beautifully printed envelopes with your logo and address in the top-left corner, it doubles down on the perception that you’re a solid, reliable entity.
Tradeshow Materials and Swag
Who doesn’t love a good tradeshow? The exciting products on offer in company booths, the free stuff, the engaging presentations, the free stuff, the informative keynotes, the free stuff… An attractive tradeshow booth and memorable swag items are almost necessary for B2B operations. By providing attendees with some good free stuff to take back to the office, you can keep your name in front of them – especially if your swag is also useful on a daily basis.
Swag’s also a great promotional idea for, well, anyone. Go find a person who doesn’t like receiving free stuff. We’ll wait.
No luck? That’s what we thought. Giving out shopping bags, keychains, those magnetic doohickeys that you stick on the back of your phone, or just about anything else with your logo on it builds reputation, brand awareness, and even spreads your brand name secondhand (i.e., at the time of this writing, the copywriter has about nine logo pens on his desk, all stolen from colleagues).
Yes, print ads still work. Readership for the print editions of newspapers and magazines may be declining. However, they’re still well-respected and commonly seen print items that put thousands of ads in front of folks actively consuming the media that’s right in front of them.
Newspaper readers are dedicated to their publications: 53% of print newspaper subscribers have taken their papers of choice for five or more years. Particularly in smaller communities that don’t have thriving TV and radio markets, the local paper may be a primary news source for a larger portion of the population. And for the older population, print is their go-to source for information and probably will be for the rest of their lives.
Magazines are another great place to find an audience, particularly for niche products targeting a small but dedicated audience. Do you sell performance auto parts? You should absolutely be advertising in some of the hundreds of racing magazines out there. A lawyer who thrives on referrals from other firms? The partners and associates at those other firms spend a lot of time reading local law publications and journals.
Catalogs & Booklets
While many of the classic catalogs of the past have been replaced by eCommerce platforms (those of us over 35 still miss the Sears Wish Book), a printed catalog is still the mark of a high-end brand. Adorned with quality imagery, engaging descriptions, and clear calls to action on each and every page, a catalog can drive sales in a big way.
Booklets, too, come in many sizes and are used for many purposes:
- Large fundraising campaigns may rely on a booklet to present potential donors with a clear case for donating and a financial history to offer prospects peace of mind that their money is going to a fiscally responsible organization.
- New product launches, especially of complex products with many available options, can be advertised with a new sales booklet outlining every detail of the product’s value props.
- How-to guides and customer resource publications are great places to cement an existing customer relationship further and prompt more return business. (If your products require instructions for use or assembly information, we can’t stress enough the importance of good, understandable documentation. The better your instruction manuals are, the better your reputation and the higher the chance of repeat business.)
Even documents that you might think of as being internal documents can still benefit from effective graphic design. Does your company’s annual report put you to sleep every year? Punch it up with a great design and quality print services. A document that might have languished in the inboxes of potential investors or business partners will be quickly picked up and read if it’s presented in an attractive, engaging way.
Consider these annual reports that M&R prepared for the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority. Attractive covers, functional and stylish interior design, and content written with the reader in mind: this is an annual report that recipients are happy to read and share with their colleagues.
Print Marketing: Connecting With Audiences Since 1704. It must be effective, or it wouldn’t have made it 300+ years. Tap into new audiences, build your brand awareness, and leverage the OG power of print. Our talented team is ready to put it down on paper for you!
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We love good design, and we’re sharing that love this summer. Since June, we’ve been sharing tips, information, and best practices for using high-quality graphic design to build and promote your business.
Other posts in this series:
- 4 Ways Your Design Choices Can Help or Hurt Brand Perception
- Want to Spread Your Message? Don’t Ignore Your Message Design
- How Branding and Graphic Design Has Served Abbeville Commissioning in South Georgia
- How To Enhance Your Digital Ads with High-Quality Visuals
- What Do Your Brand Fonts Say to Your Audience?
- 4 Graphic Design Facts That Can Help Boost Your Business