Print marketing helps people discover your brand in a more personal, interactive, and tactile format than digital. If digital ad space is already highly competitive in your industry, you might benefit from taking an alternative route to reaching your audience by using print marketing.
To get started with print marketing, I recommend that you first decide what marketing objectives you want to focus on. Next, determine what print formats suit your objectives. Finally, get informed about the various aspects of a print campaign that you’ll need to make decisions about including considerations related to design, technical formats, and distribution.
8 Common Objectives for Print Materials
Print marketing can raise awareness, educate, build trust, and present your products or services. Which of the goals below most closely aligns with your marketing needs?
List the services your firm provides along with descriptions and pricing information.
Showcase your products with images, descriptions, specifications, and prices.
Help readers navigate an area, building, park or other space with a personalized map. Add call-outs to identify landmarks, attractions, or noteworthy spots related to your business or event.
Highlight upcoming attractions with names, dates, locations, and descriptions.
Show customers how a process works.
A process-oriented print document could show:
- how you will complete a job for your customers, should they choose to hire you
- what steps a customer needs to take to prepare to work with you
- how to proceed independently after a consultation
One of the best ways to build trust is to make a promise to your customers. Tell people what benefits, perks, and protections they can expect from working with you.
Educate your audience about a topic with facts, statistics and stories presented visually. You can add a call-to-action if you’d like your audience to take an initiative after reading your material.
A trifold brochure is a popular format for introducing your company to your audience. You can utilize all 6 panels of a 2-sided trifold with this layout.
- Title page: This page includes your logo, company name, an eye-catching picture, and a sentence or two that indicates how the customer will benefit from your products or services.
- About page: You might title this page with “Mission” or “About.” Either way, the point is to introduce your company in a way that relates to your customers’ values and interests.
- Body: Highlight the key products or services you offer and their benefits. This section might require 2-3 panels.
- Contact: List your contact information and social media handles.
- Social Proof: Share a list of clients and a few testimonials.
- Bonus: If you have an extra panel, you can feature fun facts or a company timeline.
4 Types of Informational Print Materials
The 4 most commonly used print materials are:
- Flyers: single unfolded sheets of paper
- Door hangers: featuring a doorknob cutout
- Brochures: folded materials including bi-folds, tri-folds, and z-folds
- Booklets: bound materials with multiple pages
The format you choose will depend on your marketing objective, how much information you need to share, your budget, and your distribution options. Review the information below to explore which formats will best suit you goals.
Flyers are typically 8.5” x 11”. They can also be printed extra large at 11” x 17”, or at a range of smaller sizes like 5” x 7”. They can be 1-sided or 2-sided, although the cost is the same either way.
Unlike brochures, flyers are printed flat and are not meant to be folded.
Flyers have relatively short lifespans. They’re often printed on lightweight paper and are typically used to share messages that readers will see just once.
You can post flyers in public spaces or private businesses that allow them. You can also use them as mailing inserts, handouts or promotional take-aways.
Currently 250 flyers cost $132 in printing costs for 8.5” x 11” premium matte. Cost savings are substantial with higher volumes. For example, 1,000 flyers can be printed for $212. You can customize your order at Vistaprint.
Door hangers are typically 3.53” x 8.5” or 4.5” x 11”. Usually they’re 2-sided.
Work from your printer’s template so that you can allow proper clearance for the door handle cutout.
Door hangers have short lifespans. They’re typically used to advertise sales and special events.
Door hangers are typically distributed in neighborhood campaigns. To drive sales, they often feature sale information, coupon codes, directions, and contact details.
Currently 250 large door hangers cost $76. You can save substantially by purchasing 500 for $99 or even 2,000 for $173. Customize your order at Vistaprint.
Brochures are typically 8.5 x 11”. They can also be extra large at 9” x 8” or 11” x 17”. Most printers will print brochures on both paper sides and then fold the brochures for you.
The defining characteristic of the brochure format is the fold. Brochures can be:
- bi-folds, folded in half
- tri-folds, folded into thirds that open like a book
- z-folds, folded into thirds that open like a fan in a single direction
Brochures are usually printed on thicker cardstock. Readers sometimes keep them to review at a later date.
You can place brochures on office countertops, post them on bulletin boards, send them in the mail, or distribute them at events.
Currently 250 brochures cost $207 in printing costs for an 8.5” x 11” premium matte tri-fold. Customize your order at Vistaprint.
Booklets are typically 8.5” x 11”, but can also be half-sized at 5.5” x 8.5”. Printers typically print on both sides of the paper and staple them for binding before delivering them.
Booklets can be printed with a cover and anywhere from 4 inside pages to 56 inside pages.
Booklets tend to have a long shelf-life, so they’re typically printed on quality paper with a thick cover.
Booklets tend to be used for product catalogs, instruction guides, training manuals, or even mini-books or storybooks.
Currently, 250 booklets cost $822 in printing costs for 8.5” x 11” premium matte with 12 pages including 8 interior pages. Customize your order at Vistaprint.
Design and Technical Specifications for Print Materials
Now that you’ve decided on your marketing objectives and the appropriate media to use, here are additional details to help you prepare perfect prints.
With print, less is more. Consider using short sentences and bullets. Highlight important words with boldface typography, icons, or accent colors. Finally, consider adding one impactful photo per panel – this is usually more effective than having multiple tiny photos on one panel.
The simplest design software to use is Canva. If you’d like more control over your designs, try Affinity Designer or Adobe Illustrator. If you’re building brochures or booklets, you might also prefer Affinity Publisher or Adobe InDesign, which have specialized features to help you keep multiple pages consistent.
Industry standard is to prepare artwork at 300 DPI (dots per inch). For an 8.5” x 11” document, this means 2,550 x 3,300 pixels.
Follow these tips to get the best resolution in your print design.
- If you download images from a stock website like Unsplash, save your images in the highest resolution so that you can import high quality images into your design document.
- If someone sends photos from a smartphone, ask them to send the photos at “actual size.”
- If a photographer sends photos, ask your photographer for full resolution or minimum 4K resolution.
- Download vector artwork in EPS or AI format. Download icons in SVG format.
All print work should be completed in CMYK color space. Computers can display more color than printers can reproduce. CMYK ensures that you don’t accidentally use colors that your printer can’t print.
If you end up submitting your file in RGB or Pantone, your printer will automatically convert the colors to the closest default CMYK colors. This approach usually works out ok, but you’re giving up control over your design and you might be surprised by the final result.
To make your graphics “bleed” over the paper’s edge, professional printers will print on oversized paper and then trim the edges by 1/8 inch. The 1/8 inch of paper that is printed and then cut off is called your document’s “bleed.” To accommodate this process, you should include a bleed of 1/8 inch (0.125”) on each side of your document.
You should also use a margin of at least 1/4 inch and avoid placing any important content within a 1/4 inch of the page’s edge.
To improve your own print designs, or to communicate more effectively with your designer, please review our guide, 12 Print Design Tips and Techniques for Flyers and Brochures.
Typically printers prefer a PDF. (Some software packages will automatically password protect your files. Make sure this setting is turned off.)
Recycled paper works best for designs that don’t require extremely vibrant colors. Vistaprint currently offers recycled paper for flyers and brochures.
You can distribute print materials at local businesses, in public spaces, and directly to people’s doors and mailboxes. For details, visit our guide, Where to Distribute Flyers, Cards and Other Print Materials.