Taming the Print Zombie: How to Use a Once “Dead” Medium to Market Your Business

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Pamela Wilson – Enjoy!

print-marketing-zombieTwenty years ago it was one of the most important means we had to market our businesses. Its death has been announced more than once in the past ten years. And today, using it can be a radical move that helps your business stand out from the crowd.

I am speaking, of course, about printed marketing materials.

The postcards, brochures, flyers, and newsletters that papered our world just a couple of decades ago have all but disappeared now. And that’s exactly why it might be time to reconsider them.

Because while all your competitors are reaching out and touching their prospects’ inboxes, what would happen if you arrived in their mailboxes?

If this sounds intriguing, read on for money-saving ideas and tips so you can explore the possibilities of print collateral to market your business.

Ideas for Print Materials


Well-designed letterhead, envelopes, and business cards make your company look polished and professional. You’ll be motivated to send out estimates, proposals and follow up letters when you know they’ll reflect favorably on your business.


Postcards are inexpensive to print, and less expensive to mail than an envelope. Think about them as an opportunity to send content marketing to your prospects and customers: checklists, buying guides, how-tos, etc.

They’re also the perfect place to make a special offer, which you can send them to your website to pick up (more on that later).

Consider using oversized postcards to stand out in people’s mailboxes, and be sure to explore variable printing, which allows you to personalize and customize elements of the piece depending on who you’re sending it to.

Presentation folders

A beautifully-designed pocket folder has a multitude of uses.

You can rely on it to help your business stand out when you’re making a sales proposal or presenting a report. If you keep it simple and remove your address and phone number (these can be on the paperwork inside) you can use your presentation folders for many years.

This is a “print once, use for years” investment you won’t regret.

Note cards

Simple pre-printed note cards and envelopes that feature your logo will motivate you to send thank you notes, words of encouragement, and follow up notes to people you meet at networking events.

Saving Money with Print

Standard offset printing works best when you’re printing large quantities. To print smaller runs, consider digital printing.

Digital printing happens on machines that are large, sophisticated versions of the color laser printer you may have on your desktop. The quality is similar to traditional offset printing, but the cost is reduced.

Consider using online printers for some of your print materials. Online printers “gang up” their print jobs: your artwork is placed next to other customers’ art on a large sheet, which saves everyone money.

Integrating Print with Your Web Marketing

Finally, if you’re going to use print, make sure you integrate it with all your other marketing efforts.

Start with the obvious: add your website address to all print materials.

For promotional items like postcards, consider creating a custom landing page that’s visually similar to the piece you’re sending, and include the URL on your postcard so you can track visitors.

Coupon codes which are exclusive to your postcard offer are another way to track who received your mailing and see who takes you up on your offer. With variable printing you can even use a different code on each card so you can track clicks to users.

Dip Your Toes in Print Marketing

Print marketing materials are different than web marketing because they’re permanent — once it’s in print, you can’t modify it like you can a web page.

This means taking extra care to proof your information carefully, and working with a graphic designer and printer who can help you bring your vision to reality.

Precisely because print takes extra effort — and not as many marketers make this effort today — tangible print materials can help you stand out.

Start small. If you don’t have a business card, work on that first. Once you’ve created those, consider a simple note card.

Dip your toes in print marketing — because sometimes the most radical way to stand out is to create a tangible object people can see, touch, and hold onto.

Pamela-Wilson-150px-sqPamela Wilson helps small business owners combine strategic marketing and great design to grow their businesses at Big Brand System. Thousands of small business owners have used her free Design 101 series to polish up their marketing. Want it? Just sign up for her free Marketing Toolkit here, and you’ll get the first lesson today.

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  • Mike Korner

    This is excellent Pamela. It’s funny how marketing works. When everyone has a brown cow, Seth’s purple cow stands out. But when everyone runs out and gets purple cows, now a brown cow suddenly stands out. Print marketing feels like that brown cow to me these days. We are buried with piles of digital messages so an occasional physical/print message can be very effective.

  • http://www.bigbrandsystem.com/ Pamela Wilson

    I agree, Mike, and have been watching the trend with more than a little amusement.

    I’m happy to see people recognizing the value of print once again. And because there are less marketers using it, your print materials can really stand out.

  • Linda Parriott

    Earlier today, in a Facebook group, Rebecca Matter, co-managing partner of AWAI, made a similar suggestion after receiving a snail mail letter from a friend who wanted to get her attention. My marketing to-do list contains a postcard campaign to reach out to local businesses. I barely have a budget for postage so I plan to use my own printer and Avery postcard stock. With the right copy and decent design, I hope to direct a little bit of local attention to my web strategy services. As you say, Pamela, it’s amusing and even ironic to think about using print tactics to market a web business.

    • http://www.bigbrandsystem.com/ Pamela Wilson

      Postage is becoming an expense to reckon with, isn’t it? You’re smart to use postcards, Linda. They’re less expensive to mail and — as you said — can be produced inexpensively. Thanks for the comment!

  • Toose

    Print has been around for a long long time and is not dead or never will be dead. They said the radio would kill print, then they said television would kill print, then the internet. It is not going to happen you can not beat that physical feeling in your hand. It is going to become what digital print became in terms of Lithographic traditional printing and that is complimentary. The mediums of online and print compliment each other and depending on the target audience, product and whatever other things marketers have always looked it will determine the medium(s).

  • http://www.i7marketing.com Sean Gallahar

    I don’t see print dying any time soon. We are still seeing billboards everywhere, and not just digital ones, but printed ones as well. To say that print died is far from the truth, and I think only future will show how valuable and usable print really is.

  • http://thetopfivepercent.com/ Stephen W. Anderson

    Zig when they are all zagging, or maybe zag when they are all zigging. Either way works. I created my first business by copying a model I had seen in another market and retooling it for the market I was in. it worked like gangbusters for 30 years.

    Helped my clients, made my company a lot of money and made my clients’ clients a lot of money too. Nobody else was doing what I envisioned, and it worked fabulously. I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be that way now.

  • http://www.SelfEmployedKing.com/ Mike Kawula

    Great Post!

    Huge fan of Print as it built my offline Cleaning Business Locally to 7 Figures and was a HUGE part of building my Online store to multiple 7 figures.

    I think its all about narrowing in on a great list and if you can find one being creative and staying in front of them on a cycle tied in with online Social marketing, you’ve got a winning formula. Joe Polish and Brian Kurtz had an awesome interview on the opportunities in Direct Mail that are often being ignored now.

    Great tips ~ Mike

  • http://www.squirrly.co/ Alexandra Petean-Nicola

    Post Cards are actually a great idea in my opinion. Sending them to people across the business channels at particular moments also shows you care. The Presentation folders are great for events. Give them to people they will most probably reuse them and your informations will stick with them for years.

  • Patrick H

    Inkjet printing is another avenue for self-promo. I like to print my post cards on my Canon printer for special events. I also like to make my own custom business cards and cut them out. Very cost-effectve!