Designing Custom Marketing Materials: 5 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years

by Guest Author on February 27, 2013

My role as a printer is not only to help entrepreneurs bring their print marketing ideas to life, but to use my years of expertise to help prevent simple mistakes that could lessen the effectiveness of their end product. Not every business owner is a marketer or designer and even fewer are printers themselves, meaning there are many factors that entrepreneurs can easily overlook when creating their marketing materials.

1. Define the purpose of your materials

Print marketing is more efficient when you have a measurable goal in mind. Simply wanting to promote your brand or obtain conversions is too vague of a goal. Your goal should be something you can actually track, such as how many calls you receive after sales meetings when you provide a packet of information.

In order to track these goals, you must spell out precisely what you want your reader to do using an effective call to action such as “call us for a free estimate” or “visit our website for more information.” In order to carry out this call to action, your audience will need vital information, such as a phone number or a website URL.

Your audience also wants to be able to find this information as quickly as possible, so make sure your content is easily scanned. Important information like your call to action or even design elements like your logo should be surrounded by whitespace to make them stand out.

2. Importance of shape and texture

Shape and texture are crucial components to print marketing because printed materials are interactive and tangible. Many entrepreneurs stick to pre-existing templates, but custom die-cuts can alter the shape of your media, letting you build your designs from the ground up. The shape of your media should bend to your ideas, not the other way around.

Print media affects two senses at once—both sight and touch. When people interact with your media, their brains create a sense memory associated with the item. If your media has an interesting texture, the sense memory is even stronger. Appealing to the senses is nothing new to marketers, however virtually unused by most brand’s print media.

A strong tactile element can come from textured stocks or from special imprint options such as embossing and foil stamping. You can even add special coatings to your print media to change the texture or use spot coating options to create a variety of textures for maximum impact.

3. Brand consistency is crucial

It’s not enough to just present your brand in a positive way; you have to strive for brand accuracy and consistency to have truly effective marketing collateral.  Your print materials should match your brand’s overall appearance, including any other print materials you’ve recently used. Think of your print marketing materials as a child of your brand—there should be enough similarities so that it looks like they share the same DNA.

Coloring is one of the most common ways that brands create a visual identity; be aware that brand colors require special considerations in printing. Your best strategy is to pick a Pantone color for your brand, since Pantone ink is universal and will not change even if you switch printers or media type.

Consistency isn’t just a visual quality—it also relates to tone. Sometimes you have to let go of a clever idea because the tone doesn’t fit in with your brand identity. If you are a high-end brand, you wouldn’t promote yourself using a fun, vibrant, tongue-in-cheek design because it would be tonally conflicting.

4. Design materials to stand out from the crowd

Over the years, I’ve seen many entrepreneurs create their marketing material using the same clip art, stock photos and cookie-cutter designs as everybody else. These premade designs can negatively impact the way people perceive your brand and cause confusion when your media looks similar to another brand’s media.

Spend the time and money to produce photos and illustrations that are unique to only your brand. This not only helps you to stand out, it helps to better define your identity since you have a greater degree of control over how it looks. If you want to take it a step further, use special effects like embossing, foil stamping and custom die cuts to help maintain a unique look over the competition.

5. Maintain a working relationship with your printer

Your printer is more than just the person who produces the final product—they are a valuable source of information. Talk to your printer ahead of time to know all of the options that are available to you. Every printer is different and may have different requirements or be able to perform different services, so they can help you find the best options to find your brand.

Find out if your printer employs any in-house designers as this can be an easy way to save time and money by having both services completed at the same location. The designers that work with printers are also more experienced at working with the nuances of print design and can either create your media from scratch or offer consulting services to help you improve your pre-existing designs.


Think of the print media that has made an impact on you and analyze what made it so effective. Did the company go out of its way to get your attention or was it simply the perfect representation of the brand? What are some of the qualities you look for in print media?  We’d love to hear your answers.


About the Author
vladimir-gendelman-tVladimir Gendelman is the founder and CEO of, a folder boutique specializing in corporate marketing materials, and recently published his expectations for presentation folder trends in 2013. Follow Vladimir on Google+ and Twitter, where he often discusses merging print campaigns with today’s marketing technology.




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