Graphic Design guide: 8 ways print trumps digital marketing materials

Want To Make A Lasting Impression? Think Printed Marketing Materials

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There are lots of reasons to choose digital publishing instead of printed marketing materials. When you consider factors such as print production, distribution costs and lead times, making the case for printing is difficult.

While cost and timing are certainly factors, your target audience and application should weigh more heavily in the decision-making process. High-quality printed materials add value to the sales process in a way digital cannot.

When To Choose Print Marketing Materials Instead of Digital

There are many products or services — automobiles, furniture, art, construction and interior design, for example — where the use of high-quality printed sales collateral can help move prospects from serious consideration to making a purchase.

Keep in mind that while one segment of your audience may prefer to receive or have access to printed materials, another segment may prefer digital marketing materials. Invest time in learning about your audience’s preferences (buyer personas). Catering to prospect and customer preferences can strengthen your brand’s image in their minds.

Print marketing materials can be ideal:

  1. When quality matters – Having control over the ink, paper, and finishes ensure that your message is presented in the style and manner you intended. Digital materials look great on screen, but unless the users have high-quality printers in good working order, and high-quality paper stock to print on, you’re putting your marketing communications at risk. It’s true that many people prefer digital, but that’s not always the case when it comes to important matters or major purchase decisions.
  2. When your information needs to be shared and discussed in small groups – Having a printed piece in hand makes it much easier to review content in small groups than on a large screen or tablet or smartphone. Printed materials generally have a wider angle of view than electronic devices which are more sensitive to glare and reflection
  3. When you need versatility of size – Printed materials have much more flexibility than digital when it comes to size and proportions. Digital needs to be formatted to scale or reflow (responsive) to the device it’s viewed on. With print, choosing pocket or poster-sized or anywhere in between is a simple matter.
  4. When you want to control the flow of the story – Digital is non-linear, and offers readers more control over what they want to read when. Print materials offer more influence in where people start and finish your conetnt. In essence, you can lead your readers more easily with print.
  5. When you want to create a tactile impression – Traditional offset printing can be applied to literally thousands of different types of paper and synthetic surfaces. Unique tactile experiences can cement your brand in people’s minds. Printing offers many options:
    1. Many degrees of shine – from high gloss to matte
    2. Many types of paper texture – from smooth to rough and corporate to artistic
    3. Many types of finishes – slick, rubbery, sand-like, raised, lowered and more
    4. Many types of binding – stapled, punched, sewn, glued, folded and more
  6. When you want your information to have a shelf life and physical presence – Printed materials don’t need an internet connection to be read or enjoyed. A well-designed brochure or presentation can be stored and accessed anytime from the coffee table, desk or shelf. When computers, smartphones and tablets are turned off, digital information goes away.
  7. When you want to encourage interaction – Digital content can easily include live interactive content that print currently cannot. Even so, print’s interactive qualities are more sensual. Printed materials can be held, bent, folded, torn, pinned, taped, pasted and touched in ways digital cannot.
  8. When you need to convey trust – Digital materials can be created and published easily. By using printed materials, you’re suggesting to readers that your organization is here to stay, cares about how the brand is presented and invests in permanence.

Print-on-Demand – A Highly Efficient Option

Ordering large quantities of sales materials can require a large investment in printing and storage. Print on demand offers high-quality in low quantities. Many companies are now using print-on-demand to control inventory and warehousing costs by ordering printing only when it’s needed.

There are many companies offering print on demand systems that allow your entire organization to access pre-designed documents or templates online, and order small quantities that can include personalization. Although there are often limitations to the types of printing effects and paper stocks typically available, the efficiency and cost control advanatges make sense.

8 Marketing Applications Where Print Excels.

Printed materials can help you stand apart from your competition. Print is ideal when you want to encourage a prospect to spend more time reviewing valuable information having to do with:

  1. High-level financial or healthcare related products or services
  2. Real estate development – residential community or commercial project brochures, broker sales sheets, floorplans, site maps, amenities packages
  3. Business cards and corporate stationery packages
  4. Membership or fundraising solicitation packages
  5. Annual and Quarterly Reports, Private Placements, company overviews, folders
  6. Automobiles, motorcycles, boats, yachts, airplanes
  7. Clothing and furniture and finishing catalogs
  8. Household goods, Stereo, Sports Gear – Appliances, Tools
  9. Professional Services Brochures – plastic surgeons, law and accounting firms, consultants, contractors
  10. Sporting and arts events, workshops and training programs and more…

Where to Turn for Advice

Consult with a design firm or branding and communications agency. Make sure they’ve handled a full-range of print marketing projects.

Many printing companies offer graphic design, but this is usually a value-added service rather than primary activity of the company. Even so, a large established printer in your geographic area may be able to give you a few names of experienced graphic designers that handle print design well.

A specialized design agency will have handled small projects such as business cards to high-end sales or exotic presentation pieces. They should be able to demonstrate that they can offer guidance with paper and processes, develop accurate specifications for bidding, and supervise press runs. A qualified firm will be able to guide you in the use of digital vs. traditional offset or web printing and understand the parameters of presses, paper sizes and technologies to make the most of your messaging goals.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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