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7 Essential Offline Marketing Materials You Need to Promote Your Business

by Claire Parker, Staples® Contributing Writer

So much marketing activity is going online these days. But to create the most effective marketing strategy, you need a mix of digital and print materials. After all, while some experts have predicted a paperless office since the mid-1970s, the fact is that many people still want to see things in print.

Use these suggestions from marketing experts and small business owners to create and make good use of offline marketing materials.

Branded Envelopes: In the old days, envelopes and letterhead were standard. These days, most of our correspondence is via email. But there’s still something to be said for using regular mail. Investing in high-quality envelopes emblazoned with your small business’s logo, and blank letterhead in the same stock, will always be a smart decision. The envelopes establish a good first impression when you are mailing invoices, gift cards and other correspondence.

Business Cards: These little pieces of paper really pack a punch, whether they’re for the entire business or individual employees. Customers can grab a few to share with friends. And you can hand them out at expos, professional meetings and even social events. “When you hand me your business card, you create a mental and visual link,” says Monica Doss, vice president of accelerator and special programs, for the Greensboro Partnership in Greensboro, NC. “Even after I’ve added you to my contact database, I keep your card. Months or even years later, I may not be able to recall your name or your company on the spot, but when I go to the cards I’ve kept, that visual connection never fails.”

Take Action: Use color strategically to reflect your brand. For a more impressive look, go for a coated paper, print two-sided or add a QR code that leads to special promotions or landing pages.

Posters & Banners: Large-format graphics get attention and allow you to show off products or announce a special offer or promotion. “Use oversize format printing to make a full-color poster for an upcoming event,” suggests Jon Feagain, art director of Adhere Creative in Houston. Investigate oversized engineering-style prints, too, for a more unique look.

Take Action: “Mounted oversized prints on foam-core make perfect store signage,” Feagain adds.

Promotional Items: Use your logo strategically on promotional items and tools. Small branding — a logo or slogan — on useful items, such as small notebooks your staff uses with clients, can have a big impact. For giveaways, choose promotional products that are functional, like phone chargers or thumb drives, so they actually get used and do the marketing for you.

Promotional Apparel: Wearable branding, donned by staff or customers and fans, is effective and long-lasting. “I have my beloved Panasonic windbreaker, and one of my best friends lives in a Panavision hat — I never see him without it,” says trade show veteran and consultant Michael Millar, from Los Angeles.

Take Action: “There is nothing worse than getting a paper-thin T-shirt from a brand you love,” Millar says. The negative effect is two-fold. Fans won’t wear it, so you lose your marketing bump, and “it’s a reflection on the brand’s product quality. Better to go with cheaper — i.e., less expensive — swag than cheap-quality swag.”

Brochures: Even in this day of digital and mobile everything, brochures are still important marketing tools. Small businesses, especially retailers, need an excellent Web site, but brochures or fliers are important as a way to present your information quickly and remind your customers about your products and services. Use brochure holders to display the materials at the front counter and in trade show or expo booths.

Take Action: In addition to your messaging, logo and location, include testimonials from satisfied customers and the URL for your Web site and social media accounts.

Postcards: If you have a great image or graphic — a historic storefront or a unique product — create picture postcards for customers to take along as a memento or send to friends. Otherwise, use this format to promote events or specials to customers, or as thank-you and holiday message notes to loyal patrons.

Even if you rely on email, social media or Web sites to convey the bulk of your marketing initiatives, there will always be a need for offline marketing materials.

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