The opportunity to present clients with something you can place directly in their hands feels particularly novel these days, considering that most of our interactions with customers have shifted to digital.
But just because our team at Chalkbox loves print design and sees value in creating tangible things for business interactions, we won’t try to convince you that you need those things for your business. You’ll have unique needs tied to your industry, marketing strategy, and other factors - and not everyone needs things printed.
Historically, there may be precedent for what print marketing materials you should have, but the world has changed. Below are some of the most common items businesses print. Maybe you’re wondering, “Do I really need it?”
Reimagining the purpose of business cards
4 years ago, the default answer would be - yes, print some cards.
Today, we believe that the answer is still “yes” for many businesses, but there is a lot less “yes” than before the pandemic. As a designer, I have handed out only two business cards since March, 2020 - and both were given at the same meeting, during our presentation to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
So many meetings have gone virtual and there are far fewer in-person events happening. The opportunities to exchange business cards are simply not there like they used to be, and it's unclear how much will return. Another consideration about handing out your card is that initial contact often happens virtually, before meeting in person. If that connection has already been established, you won’t need to exchange a business card once you meet face to face.
Some businesses are repurposing business cards. Instead of communicating contact information as usual, they instead focus on a specific campaign they want to promote, with a QR code that takes customers to a page where they can learn more and get involved. This is a great time to reconsider what information is on your own business card, and to consider using both sides of the card in new ways.
Brochures in smaller quantities
How do you use brochures in your business? Some hand out brochures all the time. Others need them only for special events.
The printed brochure is integral for industries that meet frequently with clients in-person and need to share a lot of information in a small package. If you’re in real estate, healthcare, education, or other industries that open their physical spaces to customers or visit customers in their own spaces, you may have brochures that are routinely distributed and vital to your brand.
But if you spend most of your time interacting online, then a brochure may only cross your mind if you’re attending a trade show or creating a presence at an event.
If you need print design for a special, one-time event, it’s nice to be able to print small quantities. Smaller quantities can be more efficient with your budget and the available space on your office shelves - it ensures you don’t wind up with an excess of heavy boxes full of brochures that will never be used.
Not too long ago, printing small quantities wasn’t really compatible with quality. Traditionally, printing presses that could deliver high quality were expensive to operate and were intended for large runs in the many thousands of units. However, newer developments in digital printing presses can print very high-quality short runs of less than 1,000.
As live events and trade shows return, the need for printed brochures may become a need for your marketing team. You can make a lasting impression by creating a brochure designed specifically for the event and its specific audience. And you can print only as many copies as you will reasonably need, and pair it with a digital version of the same piece as well (perhaps available by QR code on that repurposed business card!).
Envelopes and letterhead
Many businesses still need to send real mail. This is often more official in nature, such as formal letters, checks, invoices, or official forms. While the era of keeping boxes and boxes of pre-printed company letterhead and envelopes on hand is over, they are still a core branding asset.
But because the need is less frequent, these mailing supplies often wind up as an afterthought when you’re going through the branding process. If they’re not given the right attention, you may be sending low quality envelopes with a low-resolution logo jammed in the corner. Inside might be important but unbranded documents inside, using the wrong fonts, colors, and straying from your style guide.
For us, investing all that time and money on a new brand only to leave out those core pieces is an unforgivable tragedy.
Considering that your business envelopes and letterhead will work their way directly into the hands of your customers, we include them in the final assets of all of our brand identity packages, regardless of whether they are requested or not. Almost all of our clients are using branded digital letterhead templates as opposed to pre-printed letterhead. This allows them to print the branded document through their in-office printer, or save it as a digital document to send by email.
Consistent with our advice about brochure quantities, we recommend printing any items in an amount that you are likely to use. Most importantly, make sure that your assets going to print are professionally designed specifically for print. This will give you the best representations of your company in both the digital and physical world.
Deciding what makes sense for you
We don’t want our clients to dedicate time and resources to a printed project that ends up in a box, in a closet, and collecting dust.
We’ll work with you to figure out what you need and help you get those pieces in place.
Are you considering print for one of your projects? Let us know what you’re thinking and we can help you determine what will be most effective for your business.