Marketing materials: branded print materials to promote your business

The ultimate guide to marketing materials from print to digital

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Let’s think about marketing materials from a business owner’s perspective. You’ve got goals like increasing your lead base and, ultimately, making more sales. Well-designed, quality marketing materials help you reach these goals. Even if you’re just starting out or your business isn’t very large (yet), quality marketing should be a priority for any business. However, it can be a big investment. 

So, we encourage small business owners to invest in a small collection of quality print marketing collateral rather than a huge quantity of cheap ones. Poorly designed marketing materials on low-quality paper reflect negatively on your brand, turning off potential customers.

To help you decide the best marketing assets for your business, we’ve put together the most popular print and digital promotional materials for you to consider.

Everything you need to know about marketing materials

What are marketing materials? 

Marketing materials are a very broad category. It covers every material collateral businesses use to connect with their target buyers. If you’re a small business owner, you’ve likely used at least one kind of marketing material in the past. You’ve also undoubtedly encountered marketing materials as a consumer. 

Marketing materials do a lot of things: 

  • Build brand awareness
  • Nurture existing relationships with buyers
  • Promote specific items and promotions
  • Make sales

To make that category a little less broad, you can divide marketing collateral into two types: print and digital. Most businesses use materials from both categories. Whether your business should use more print materials or more digital materials depends on a few things: 

  • Where do people encounter your brand? Print is the way to go if you mainly connect with local audiences. For online audiences, you need digital marketing. 
  • Do you offer a tangible product or a service? For tangible products, opt for branded print packaging as a key way to enhance your relationship with buyers. There is no packaging for services, but you might use brochures or flyers
  • What are your marketing goals? For brand awareness, digital campaigns can be a great way to gain followers and showcase your unique attributes. For increasing in-store sales, postcards with clip-out coupons are one great option.

What marketing materials does your business need?

The first step in any marketing campaign is determining your goals. You probably have multiple business goals, and you might need different materials for each campaign. 

If you don’t have a small business marketing strategy setup already, use the principles of marketing to brainstorm your goals and the strategies you’ll use to pursue them. For example, you might want to promote a new service. You might opt to create a series of social media posts explaining and showcasing this new service and accompany these posts with a coupon for 20% off to subscriber inboxes. Or you might want to promote a new cafe location with a large billboard visible from the highway, letting people know they’re less than five minutes from the best croissant they’ve ever tasted. 

Print marketing assets are just that: marketing items printed on paper, cloth, metal or, in some cases, materials like magnets. In every case, print marketing materials are tangible. Use them for:

  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Networking events
  • Corporate gifting
  • In-store advertising
  • Trade shows and industry events

Below are some of the most common types of print marketing options. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. 

Kinds of print signage for business

Billboards

Billboards are large marketing materials along roadways and on the sides of large buildings. They’re a great way to advertise local businesses because they can be seen from far away and meet viewers’ immediate needs, like a coffee or a hot meal. 

Print marketing materials: billboard sign for pub

Source: Billboard design by Windmill Designer™ via 99designs by Vista

Yard signs

Yard signs are basically small billboards! Though they’re often used to advertise political candidates and political positions, they’re also an effective way to market small businesses to passersby. 

Print marketing materials: yard sign

Posters

Posters are marketing materials used mostly inside physical stores. They can advertise specific products, promotions, brands or information about the products or services offered. Posters are versatile; they can be large or small and fit just about any decor style. 

Print marketing materials: posters for your business
Print marketing materials: posters for your business

Window displays

Sometimes, window displays include posters. In other cases, they feature products with or without elaborate staging. Window displays are an engaging way to draw attention from people passing by. 

Print marketing materials: poster for window display
Print marketing materials: decal for window display

Explore more about print signs and how to use them effectively with our guide to print signs.

Paper goods

Business cards

Business cards are personalized marketing materials for individuals. Because it contains all of your contact information as well as a photo, promotional graphic or tagline, a business card is a must-have for any professional. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with potential partners or customers.

Print marketing materials: two black business cards side by side, one with gold metallic text and the other with silver

Source: Business card design by Rose via 99designs by Vista

Flyers and postcards

Flyers and postcards are handy print marketing options commonly used in direct mail marketing. Because these need to stand out in a pile of mail, design them to be eye-catching and instantly recognizable as your brand. They’re often ideal for small ads and quick promotions. 

Print marketing materials: flyers for your business

Brochures and pamphlets

Brochures and pamphlets are print marketing materials you can give away at industry events, send out as direct mail and give out in your store. These mini-books are great ways to share lengthier and more nuanced information than you can fit onto a flyer, such as explaining service packages.

Print marketing materials: photographic brochure featuring an island in a lake

Source: Brochure by YaseenArt via 99designs by Vista

Stationery

Stationery is a type of marketing material that leans more into brand marketing than direct sales. By that, we mean that branded stationery makes your business communications distinct and memorable, even when the communications aren’t directly about sales. Branded stationery includes letterhead, envelopes, notepads and other office goods bearing the business name and logo. 

Print marketing materials: stationery set

Source: Stationery design by Brands by Sam via 99designs by Vista

Apparel and other swag

T-shirts

There’s a reason why T-shirts are such popular marketing materials: people like them! You’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who would say “no” to a free T-shirt, which makes getting your brand out there on T-shirts super easy and even fun. 

Print marketing materials: hats for MUSH brand

Hats

After T-shirts, hats are one of the most popular types of swag. Just like T-shirts, hats are an easy, portable way to promote your brand. 

Print marketing materials: design a hat for your brand

Source: Hat design by Dudeowl via 99designs by Vista

Bags

Tote bags are a popular kind of marketing material because they can be used over and over again. Lean into your brand’s eco-friendly message (if that’s one of your brand values) by giving out reusable shopping bags. 

Print marketing material: tote bag for your eco-friendly customers
Print marketing material: tote bag for your eco-friendly customers

Branded goods

Swag (an acronym for stuff we all get) comes in all forms. A few other popular types of swag include mugs, pens, notepads and stickers. The most effective way to make swag into an effective marketing material is to choose an item the recipient will likely use, like a mug or pen, rather than a one-off trinket like a paper hat. 

Print marketing materials are handy at tradeshows.

Packaging materials

Boxes

Boxes come in a wide variety of sizes. Boxes or shopping bags are a must-have for any kind of business that offers a tangible product. Branded boxes add an element of personalization to your buyer’s experience—building a fun unboxing into that experience!

Print marketing materials: branding packaging
Print marketing materials: colorful packaging for your brand

Shopping bags

For some businesses, like those offering up smaller, lighter products, shopping bags are a better choice than boxes. They’re way less bulky. If your buyer expects to carry their purchase around for a while, a shopping bag’s handles make it easy. 

Print marketing materials:  branded shopping bags
Print marketing materials:  branded shopping bags

Mailers

Mailers are the cushioned envelopes used for shipping products. Like a box or a shopping bag, a branded mailer showcases your business and makes your parcel stand out among the rest of your buyer’s mail. 

Print marketing materials: pink mailer featuring hot pink text

Source: Packaging design by RUDI STUDIO via 99designs by Vista

Digital marketing materials

Why are we talking about digital marketing materials in the ultimate guide to print marketing materials? Because, in most cases, small businesses use both. And using digital marketing strategically is a great way to complement and enhance print efforts. Additionally, in most of those cases, digital and print marketing materials share a brand identity. As you design digital materials, think about how the designs will translate to print and vice versa. 

Tip

Easily design swoon-worthy digital marketing assets that match your brand with VistaCreate.

Social media 

Image posts

On nearly all social media platforms, you can post static images. These are important organic marketing materials—“organic” meaning that they are not paid ads but regular posts. Organic social media is an important part of any business marketing strategy, especially for small and startup businesses that don’t have large budgets for paid advertising. 

collection of static social media posts featuring women modeling t-shirt designs

Source: Social media post design by Alshimaa Mou via 99designs by Vista

Videos

Videos are another type of organic social posts you can use to promote your brand and your products online. As you plan your social media strategy, keep in mind that videos tend to perform better on certain platforms while static images do better on others. And some platforms, like YouTube, are strictly for one type of creative (in this case, video). Research this information and remember that social media algorithms regularly update—as of 2023, video ads performed best on Facebook, but this could change with an algorithm update. 

Advertisements

Ads can be found all over the internet. As a small business, online ads can be one of the most valuable marketing materials in your toolkit, especially if you run an online business, particularly because it can be hard to be seen quickly with organic marketing. 

Digital marketing: banner ads in various sizes

Source: Banner ad design by Maryia Dziadziulia via 99designs by Vista

You might hear ads referred to as paid social media. These are the ads that run on social media. You can also run ads on websites and in search engine results. The imagery and copy for these ads are often similar to those used on social media. 

Not sure where to start with online ads? Check out our helpful beginner’s guide to paid advertising.

Content marketing

Content marketing is defined as marketing strategies that position the brand as a source of valuable information for customers rather than directly telling them to buy. Although content marketing is often associated with digital marketing, it includes sponsored print articles and live seminars. 

Blog posts

Blog posts are one of the most common types of content marketing. In a blog post, you can showcase your brand while educating readers about a relevant topic, such as a list of recipe recommendations if you’re a grocer or a health coach. 

Digital marketing materials: a blog featuring photos and multiple articles

Source: Blog design by Mithum via 99designs by Vista

Infographics

Infographics are another popular type of content marketing. They’re eye-catching, often interesting and can be used just about anywhere, from social media to blog posts to newsletters. 

Digital marketing materials: space-themed infographic featuring rockets against a purple background

Source: Infographic design by YaseenArt via 99designs by Vista

Presentations

Presentations and webinars are another form of content marketing that can position an individual or brand as an authority in their field. The marketing materials used here are often slide decks and graphics that illustrate and support the speaker’s message. 

Digital marketing materials: white and teal slide deck template

Source: Presentation design by Rockslide via 99designs by Vista

Newsletters

Newsletters are a recurring form of content marketing, which makes them great for keeping a brand on the mind. Often, newsletters incorporate both content marketing and direct sales strategies. 

Digital marketing materials: email newsletter for a realtor featuring large photos

Source: Newsletter design by velvetmade via 99designs by Vista

Lead magnets

Lead magnets are the downloadable goodies you often see offered on social media and blogs. Usually, they’re free of charge—but only given in exchange for the reader’s email address. Beyond providing value to readers, lead magnets are used to generate leads. They can be ebooks, workbooks, mini-courses or more.

Digital marketing materials: multi-page pdf brochure featuring a teal and blue template and lots of photo

Source: Digital brochure design by Emanuel Dumitrescu via 99designs by Vista

Make your digital marketing count by doing it well from the start! Here are some helpful resources: 

Increase your conversions with awesome marketing materials

Better-looking marketing materials make your business more competent, more successful and more engaging. Position your business for success by investing in well-designed, well-constructed print marketing materials, and digital materials in the hands of savvy marketers. 

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