Print Collateral: Is it worth the $$$?

We live in a highly digital world: checking email by the minute, surfing the internet daily, visiting websites and perusing social media hourly. Which, in my humble opinion, makes print marketing all the more valuable and impactful. Not to say that digital marketing is not equally important. A website, e-mail campaigns, and social media profiles are imperative to creating a powerful online presence that will communicate with your target audience and help your business thrive. However, sometimes print materials are the better way to reach that audience.

A beautifully-done brochure — printed in full color, on heavyweight cover stock, with a velvet-touch finish — can make a really great impression on your clients. And sometimes, when put in the right hands, it can even close a deal. This is all about the psychology of marketing. Tactile and visual impressions really do make a difference when it comes to decision making. Yes, there are other factors: but don’t forget that this is one of them.

Some things to ask when considering the time and expense of print materials:

  • Is the quality of the materials worth the projected cost?
    When it comes to printing materials that will make an impression, this is not a good place to scrimp. There are certainly ways that print can be made less expensive, but remember: you’re trying to impress, not distribute a piece that will go directly to the trashcan.
  • How will the print materials reach and impact your target audience (hand delivery/leave-behind vs. mail)? And are the additional costs associated with delivery to your audience worth the short-term expense?
    At the end of the day, it may actually be more worthwhile to go digital. And that’s OK — the point is you must evaluate your target audience and determine the best way to reach them. Sometimes, a print piece hits the nail on the head. And sometimes, it really isn’t worth the expense. Before you rush out to run off a million copies of a flyer, consider whether it would be better distribute as an email campaign. Or, before you shoot out a templated invite to your company’s anniversary showcase event, consider a more custom, printed invite that will encourage investor and client attendance.
  • Does the print item a long-term or short-term impact (e.g. event invitation vs. company brochure)?
    If this is a piece that your company might be using 2-3 years from now, it is definitely worth an investment. You want a design and print quality that will stand the test of time. And yes, depending on the message and branding, a print piece can certainly last that long. If the shelf life of the piece is more like 1 week (e.g. a flyer for a trade show), print may still be the way to go, but a designer can take into considerations various ways that the piece might be more affordable to print, including size, color, paper types, etc.

Some like to say that “print is dead”. As long as I’m working as a designer, I will disagree. Print and digital are equally useful tools in marketing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that digital media has made print even more “alive” by comparison. One plays off the other — each has their advantages and disadvantages. So, before you dismiss the idea of updating your company brochure or printing 1,500+ copies of an annual report, consider your audience and the potential impact of a well-crafted print piece. It may make all the difference.