Your ultimate guide to print marketing materials

Your ultimate guide to print marketing materials

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

You’re ready.

You’ve started your business and you’re ready to promote it. When it comes to promoting your business, there’s one thing you shouldn’t overlook:

Print marketing. 

Yes, print marketing is still a thing. And it’s an important one too. Like digital marketing, it can have a significant impact on your business, whether you’re just starting out or are well established.

But what print marketing materials should you use? And why are they important?

In this guide, I’ll show you the different types of materials, what their pros and cons are and give you tips on how to use print marketing effectively—so you can have a competitive edge over the rest. 

What are print marketing materials?

Print marketing materials, also known as print collateral, are anything that’s printed that promotes a business and its products and services. This includes things like brochures, flyers, business cards, posters, direct mail, packaging, promotional products and catalogs. 

5 reasons why print marketing materials are important

Person in black jacket holding coffee cup walking past a series of white posters with red borders with text “have a good time”

Sourced via Jon Tyson on Unsplash

1) They’re still effective

You might be wondering why print marketing materials are still around in our digital age.

And that’s a good question. 

Print marketing is still around because it’s still effective—even compared to certain digital channels. 

For example, 80% of consumers act on printed ads, while just 45% act on digital ones.

2) They promote brand awareness

Print marketing materials are great for promoting brand awareness; in fact, people find it easier to remember brands that advertise in print

Because we tend to read printed text a little more slowly than reading off a screen, and because we engage more with print collateral through touch, it gets more ingrained in our brain. 

3) They work well with digital marketing

All of this doesn’t mean that you should focus on print marketing to the exclusion of digital marketing—they’re most effective when used together.

In fact, combining print with digital makes marketing campaigns 400% more effective. 

4) They build trust

Print collateral helps you establish local brand recognition by connecting you with the local community, building the trust and loyalty that are indispensable for long-term success.

Because the fact is that, with the increase of scams on the internet, people tend to trust print marketing materials more than digital ads

5) They help you stand out

And in a digital space that’s swarming with competition, adding print collateral to your marketing strategy can help you to stand out from the rest, giving you a competitive edge (especially if you get a little more creative). 

Tips for using print marketing materials effectively

Here are some tips that will help you to use your print marketing collateral effectively and maximize your return on investment:

Understand your audience

Think about who your target audience is, what their desires and pain points are, where they’re based and at what stage of the buyer’s journey they are.

The buyer’s journey describes the stages a person goes through to make a purchase: 

  • Awareness – The buyer is aware that they have a problem.
  • Consideration – The buyer researches the different approaches to solve that problem.
  • Decision – The buyer evaluates various businesses and decides which to purchase from.

Knowing exactly where your target audience is on the buyer’s journey will influence your choice of print collateral and how you design it.

Tailoring print marketing materials to match the preferences and behaviors of your target audience increases their effectiveness. 

Create clear messaging and benefits

Clarity is always key. 

Good marketing materials make it easy for your audience to understand what they need to know.

For example, if you’re opening a store, you’ll want to make it clear what you sell, when it’s opening and where it’s located. Think who, what and where.

To make your advertising persuasive, also think about the why: Always lead with the benefits of your product or service. Center your messaging around what’s in it for your target audience, and you’ll be making a compelling case for them to purchase from you.

Include a call to action

Once they read your print collateral, your audience should know what to do next.

A call to action is made up of a few words that tell a person what to do after reading, whether it’s visiting your website, making a call or swinging by your store.

They’re usually a command. You’ll be familiar with calls to action such as “Order now” and “Book now.” 

Keep it clear and simple to be effective.

Use eye-catching design

One of the most important aspects of print marketing is visual design. 

Good design is what captures attention and highlights key information without overwhelming your target audience.

Consider using design principles such as visual hierarchy and contrast to make your marketing materials stand out from the crowd and get your message across. 

If you’re designing the collateral yourself, remember that most applications will default to RGB color mode which is for digital projects. For print, use CMYK color mode; otherwise the colors will look different to what you designed, once printed. 

When designing, add a little space around the edges as a safe zone because your work will get trimmed slightly when printed. 

Remember that good print marketing reinforces your brand identity. To do that, maintain consistency with your brand colors and designs to make your business easy to recognize.

Measure and adapt

Keep track of the effectiveness of your print campaigns by monitoring response rates, sales and customer feedback.

Adapt your strategies based on these insights to continuously improve performance. 

13 types of print marketing materials for your business

Let’s take a look at some of the different types of print marketing collateral, along with their pros and cons, so you can pick what’s best for your business.

1) Business cards

premium business cards tile

As you know, business cards are a great way to share your essential contact information and make a strong impression with your brand. 

They’re handy for networking and chance encounters with your ideal customers—making them a perfect solution for getting more leads for your business. 

A good business card can set you apart from the rest and put you front of mind when a potential customer has a problem that you can solve. 

Business cards can leave a lasting impression of your brand. If you’re a luxury or high-end brand, your cards can convey that premium feel by using a more solid material like a thicker matte paper, plastic or metal. 

What’s great about business cards is that you can design them with a tactile quality that helps boost brand retention. 

Just make sure the material you choose communicates something about your brand. If sustainability is a core value, you can make your business cards out of brown recycled paper, bamboo or hemp.

Or impress others with business cards that use near-field communication, so that people can scan your cards with their phones to get your contact information. 

You can get creative with your business cards to stand out and show what you’re about. 

If you’re stuck for ideas, take a look at some of these for inspiration

Pros

  • Can create a lasting impression even with a brief encounter
  • Easy to customize
  • Affordable
  • Portable

Cons

  • Limited space for information
  • Easy to lose
  • Easy to damage, depending on the material

Tip

Try including a QR code on your business card to share your details easily.

2) Brochures

printed brochure on a table

Brochures are versatile marketing materials which allow you to share more detailed information in a visually appealing way. Use them to highlight specific products, services or promotions you offer. 

They’re folded sheets of paper that come in various sizes, such as bi-fold, tri-fold or multi-page formats, giving you the flexibility to say what you need to.

Brochures can be distributed through various channels like direct mail, in-store rack displays, trade shows, events or alongside products during a purchase.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Space to give more information
  • Affordable
  • Can be turned into digital marketing assets as PDFs

Cons

  • Can quickly become outdated if you have regular changes to your products and services

It can take time to get them right

3) Flyers

flyer on a table

Flyers are single-sheet promotional materials that are printed on one or both sides. They tend to be smaller in size, making them easy to hand out directly to people, pop in mail slots, pin on bulletin boards or add as inserts to newspapers or mailings.

They usually contain some brief information about a business, its products, services, events, sales, special offers or promotions. They come in various sizes and designs, ranging from simple handouts to more elaborate, visually engaging layouts.

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Quick to distribute
  • Ideal for announcing events

Cons

  • Limited space for content
  • Some recipients may discard flyers without reading them

Tip

Flyers are a great way to promote an event.

4) Posters

toy store poster on a wall

Posters are designed to capture attention from afar and convey a message quickly. They come in various sizes, but they’re bigger than flyers, giving them greater visibility that has the potential to reach a wider audience.

They’re typically displayed on walls, bulletin boards, storefronts and any areas with high foot traffic. 

Posters are good for promoting special events, sales, product launches or important announcements thanks to their eye-catching nature and large size.

Pros

  • High visibility
  • Grab attention

Cons

  • Can be tricky to find suitable spaces for poster display
  • Printing large posters, or in color, can be more expensive than using other print collateral

Tip

If you’re using posters, make sure that you put them in places that are frequented by your target audience to maximize their effectiveness.

5) Banners

custom vinyl banner

Banners are large-format marketing collateral made from durable materials such as vinyl or fabric. 

They’re designed to be used both indoors and outdoors, since they can be made with weather-resistant materials. 

Banners are larger than brochures, flyers and posters, but they come in a range of sizes. They can be displayed using stands and frames, and be hung or suspended.

Banners are excellent for outdoor advertising, promoting sales, announcing events or increasing brand visibility. You’ll often see them on street corners, in storefronts and entrances, and at trade shows and events.

Pros

  • Highly visible and can attract attention from afar
  • Great for the outdoors
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Reusable, offering long-term value

Cons

  • Larger banners need more space for storage when not in use
  • Can be more expensive
  • Hanging or installing large banners might need professional assistance or specific equipment

6) Direct mail

Sourced via erica steeves on Unsplash

Direct mail involves sending printed promotional materials—like postcards, letters, catalogs and flyers—directly to your target audience through the post. 

Direct mail is perfect for reaching specific demographics in certain locations. The best direct mail appeals to the preferences and needs of the recipients and can help you generate leads, drive sales or increase brand awareness. 

You can use direct mail to advertise promotions, discounts, coupons and exclusive offers to encourage recipients to make a purchase. 

Give your business a more professional, premium feel with any direct mail that you send by using letterheads and branded envelopes—this will enhance your credibility.

If you’re just starting out as a business, direct mail could be a good approach for raising awareness of your brand in your local area. 

Pros

  • Targets specific demographics, increasing the chances of reaching a receptive audience
  • Measurable results
  • Less competition

Cons

  • Success depends on the accuracy and quality of the mailing list you use
  • A large mailing list can be expensive to distribute to

Tip

Postcards are a good option for direct mail. Because they don’t come in envelopes, they have higher open rates compared to sealed letters, since the message is instantly visible.

7) Catalogs

Open catalogs with images of presents and a Christmas tree

Sourced via micheile henderson on Unsplash

Catalogs are printed materials that allow you to showcase a collection of your products and services in an engaging way.

They can be excellent sales tools, encouraging purchases through copy, graphics, discounts and coupons.

They’re so effective, in fact, that 60% of recipients visit the catalog’s website.

Pros

  • Showcase a range of products and offerings in one place
  • Achieve high engagement that influences purchasing decisions

Cons

  • Expensive to design and print catalogs
  • Can become outdated quickly due to changes in products, pricing or offerings 

8) Packaging

Packaging doesn’t just protect products from damage but can also promote your business and create an enjoyable user experience for customers. 

Try putting a thank-you card inside the packaging. Or include a message inside the box that gives your customers tips for using your product. 

You can also complement your digital marketing efforts by adding a QR code on the outside of the packaging that connects to your social media.

All of these little things can go a long way when it comes to building a loyal customer base and a positive image for your brand. 

Pros

  • Builds a positive brand image
  • Strengthens relationships with customers
  • Increases social media following

Cons

  • Limited space
  • Added expense of customizing packaging

Tip

Use packaging as an opportunity to delight your customers with an interesting unboxing experience, strengthening positive associations with your brand and setting you apart from the competition.

9) Stationery and promotional products

Creating visually appealing, high-quality stationery and promotional products helps reinforce your brand identity and professionalism. 

You can customize stationery like pens, folders, notebooks and highlighters or promotional products like mugs, water bottles, candy wrappers, chargers, mousepads and USB sticks.

Using stationery and promotional products can increase your brand’s visibility by giving people tangible reminders of you. For example, every time someone uses a branded pen of yours to write something down, you’ll pop into their mind, boosting brand retention and recall.

You can make a good impression on customers by including some useful stationery and promotional products for free with a purchase.

When it comes to print marketing, it’s all about using every available opportunity and space (no matter how small) to promote yourself so you’ll be front of mind.

Pros

  • Build long-term brand exposure and recall
  • Can nourish customer loyalty and retention
  • Give your business a professional image
  • Enhance engagement and memorability

Cons

  • Some items can be more expensive to customize
  • Difficult to measure the return on investment

10) Clothing and accessories

a clothing rack with hanging t shirts with custom designs

Clothing and accessories (such as T-shirts, hats, bags and wristbands) that are branded with your company’s logo, slogan or message are a fantastic way to increase brand exposure. 

When people wear your branded clothing and accessories, they act as mobile advertisers wherever they might be. It’s why clothing and accessories are effective promotional tools to increase brand visibility and engage with your audience.

You can give them as gifts to create positive associations with your brand and inspire customer loyalty. And they’re especially useful for establishing a brand identity at important events. 

Pros

  • Mobile advertising
  • Sustained brand exposure over time
  • Influence perception of brand value

Cons

  • Can be expensive to produce
  • Not everyone who receives promotional clothing may wear it

11) Door hangers

Close-up of man hanging door hanger on door handle

Door hangers do just that: hang on door handles.

They’re a targeted form of local advertising and promotion, effective for reaching specific neighborhoods or areas with tailored messages. 

Because they’re a more unusual way of promoting your brand, they stand out.

They’re usually used to announce sales, special offers, discounts or upcoming events directly to residents in a particular area. Door hangers can generate leads by providing contact information and directing recipients to your website or store location.

Pros

  • Direct targeting 
  • High visibility
  • Cost effective compared to other methods

Cons

  • It can take more time and effort to distribute them

12) Billboards

Billboards are one of the most effective forms of advertising—with eye-catching visuals, they’re hard to ignore.

You’ll usually spot billboards in high-traffic areas, so they’re a good way of mass-promoting your brand. In fact, 66% of people take action on their smartphones upon seeing a billboard ad. 

It’s why they’re a good option if you’ve recently launched your business and want to spread awareness of your brand in a particular area.

Pros

  • Generate mass exposure
  • Highly visible

Cons

  • Can be expensive, especially in prime locations
  • Limited interaction with the audience
  • People might not retain the information displayed on your billboard

13) Wall decals

wall decal

Wall decals are designs—made from vinyl or other materials—that stick to walls and other smooth surfaces.

You’ll often see them in commercial spaces, and they’re usually quite decorative, so they’re a good opportunity to get creative and grab attention with striking visuals. 

Many businesses use them to advertise a promotion or customize their space with brand logos and messages, reinforcing their branding identity.

They’re usually temporary and can be easily applied and removed without causing damage to a surface. 

Pros

  • Visually striking 
  • Flexibility in design and size
  • Removable

Cons

  • Might not stick to heavily textured surfaces
  • Limited reusability—once removed, their adhesiveness might lose its effectiveness

Creating your own print marketing materials

Using print marketing materials to complement your wider marketing strategy can help you to effectively spread brand awareness, establish credibility, stand out from the competition and get more customers coming through your door.

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of print marketing materials and how to use them effectively, where do you start to create them?

The great news is that you don’t have to hire an expensive graphic designer or try to work out complicated design software when creating your print marketing collateral.

You’ve got enough on your plate as it is.

On VistaPrint, you can easily create your essential print marketing materials in just a few clicks. Work off the thousands of templates available and customize them to what you need, or upload your own design. 

You can create your print collateral in a few minutes and have it delivered to your door. 

With VistaPrint, it’s easy to create what you need to help get your business to where you want it to go.