Choosing Collateral For A Print Campaign

A Strong Arsenal of Print Products is Essential to Success

In an industry where we like to pretend that print is still the only way to advertise, it's usually easy to ignore the fact that print isn't necessarily part of the everyday for all businesses. Unfortunately, a disillusioning number of readers on my print/design blog have contacted me recently asking what, exactly, is involved in running a print campaign. As a result, I've had to face the truth that a whole new generation of business owners, who have built their success entirely online, have never run a print campaign.

So what might prompt a business – a business that does all its marketing online – to plunge into print for the first time?

  • Need to connect with a local audience.
  • Support for a cross-media campaign.
  • Unique design opportunities.
  • Interest in gaining access to new demographics.

The collateral – or different types of print products – required to execute a successful campaign is dependent on the nature of the promotion. I'll now run down several of the most popular pieces of print media used to market small businesses, and I'll talk a bit about how they can be used in combination to ensure a strong print ad campaign.

A Direct Mail Piece

I know it might sound crazy to internet types, but a well-designed direct mailer remains a great way to launch a print or cross-media campaign – especially on a local level. It offers folks an instant visual that they might not pay attention to the first time they see it, but that will reinforce future points of contact.

A postcard, flyer, or even a greeting card can serve as a direct mail campaign flagship piece. And it puts a slice of your brand in the home of your target demographics, so that when they see or hear follow-up media, they'll already have something to reference back to.

nice postcard

A Public Grab Piece

A piece of print collateral that can be easily distributed, picked up, and mailed in bulk is the next essential element in a successful campaign. You need something that can go in stands or on surfaces in public places like restaurants, cafes, music venues, and businesses, which reinforces your company or product culture.

Depending on what best suits the nature of a business or campaign, you have free reign here to design and print with brochures, club cards, racks cards, or table tent displays. Something like a brochure can contain a lot of information, and is simple for people to grab off a rack. On the other hand, a table tent offers long exposure time – drinkers and diners may sit and pour over an appealing table tent as intently as a menu.

A Outdoor Piece

The biggest investment for any print campaign is the outdoor advertising, which must be either very large, or very numerous, to make an impact. Billboards, large-format banners, and jumbo posters can all serve as the crowning awesome of a print campaign, the center of attention, and a source of focus powerful enough to stick in the public consciousness.

Alternatively, or in support of a large outdoor ad, businesses often elect to print mobile ads, like the ones you see on public transit vehicles. More popular still is the vehicle wrap, a vinyl cover that can be designed to fit any vehicle, and that can be easily removed at the end of a campaign.

A Print Media Piece

To achieve maximum market penetration, it's worth considering investment in ads placed in newspapers, magazines, or trade journals. And yes, it's hard to justify the expense when you've been advertising successfully in online equivalents of the publications you're now scouting, but the benefit is exposure to a whole new audience base – one that is, perhaps, not quite so oblivious as the market you're used to.

Print media ads are also the best way to connect with a local audience, or a specialized regional community that has proven difficult to target online. Ads in newspapers and magazines often show amazing strength in driving web traffic, especially when combined with a clear promotion.

While the bounce rate on GoogleAds tends to be shockingly high, it's much easier to draw sustained interest to a website via a print ad, because of the investment of time required by a cross-media transition. In plain English, anyone who gets your URL from a print ad is way more likely to hang around on your website than someone who clicks on a link.

All Together Now!

For a print campaign to effectively drive energy, enthusiasm, and those all-important dollars towards a business, it should boast at least one piece from each of the above categories. And most importantly, each piece must be designed to support the overall campaign message. The outdoor ad should call to mind the direct mail piece. The magazine ad should convince viewers that what they saw on a table tent at lunch is worth pursuing.

This type of print message reinforcement can be done through a smart promotion, clever tagline, or a juicy offer, but it also comes down to consistent, effective use of imagery, color, fonts, and even paper choice, signature diecutting, and use of special features like embossing, folding, and foil stamping.

A business that's been primarily involved in new media might be inclined to shy away from investing in a print ad campaign because of the cost. But when was the last time you checked web-to-print pricing, or spoke to your local small commercial printer? Full color print collateral isn't as expensive as you might think, and many printers currently offer promotions like free business cards or free design services as incentives for large orders.

Still nervous about taking the plunge? Find a printer, and figure out what they can do for you. Many printing houses offer a variety of marketing services – ideal for a first time print buyer looking to kick off a campaign without a hitch. Once you start to get involved, you'll be amazed at how simple, and effective, the process of running a great print campaign can be.

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