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Print vs. Digital Marketing Materials

Bill Stainton

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In this day of PDFs and e-mail, do you still find value in actual, physical marketing materials (anything from a simple 1-sheet to a slick, center-stapled marketing brochure) that you put in an actual, physical envelope to send to your actual, physical clients/prospects? Is there a correlation between any such value and your speaking fee (e.g., if you’re a high-fee speaker, the client wants/expects high-priced marketing materials)?

— Steve Waterhouse

We do everything in PDF since most communication is via email. When we need a printed copy, we go to Kinko’s and get a high-quality color printout and bind it. That gives us the best of both worlds.

— Lila Shepley

I am ED of a local Chamber and our Board discussed this with regards to our monthly newsletter. We voted unanimously to keep our hard-copy newsletter for the following reasons:

  1. Many people do not open their email newsletters. They think they will read them later and then never get to them
  2. We use these as our biggest method of outreach We leave them in bank lobbies, etc.
  3. Our Members will carry in car or briefcase and read at a red light, or waiting in line, etc.
  4. Our Members will pass along to non Members when they have finished reading them
  5. Long articles are out, bullet points and short articles are all that get read.

— Jane Sanders

I haven’t used hard-copy materials in several years, and my business has grown consistently. Maybe 1-2 prospects have asked, but seem satisfied to be able to download PDF files from my Web site. I do have a simple one-sheet summary description of my services that I created myself and give to prospects during face-to-face meetings, but those are rare occasions.

— Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts

Hard-copy marketing materials DO provide great value to the sender and receiver. Everyone is so inundated with e-newsletters and “e-everything” else, that the online medium has become saturated. There’s nothing like a well-done marketing piece that reads well and is visually appealing.

Let’s compare this to e-greeting cards. When they were first introduced, everyone was sending everyone else e-greeting cards for all occasions. These cards didn’t have the same thoughtfulness as a card that someone purchased, inscribed, and mailed. As a result, people rarely send e-greeting cards and the paper card market is booming.

Business letters are making a comeback after a long draught due to email. People are so deluged with email, that a well-written letter stands out and is appreciated.

— Randy Gage

Definitely we still send a complete physical packet to all potential clients. I think it helps us stand out and get more bookings, because most people are trying to save money and only send them to downloads.

— Jane Atkinson

I’ve checked with some bureaus and the answer is there is not much use for printed materials. If a decision maker wants to take your information to a meeting, make your key Web site pages printer friendly, or place them on your meeting planner page as PDFs and they’ll have what they need. Your Web site should make the impression you desire. If you feel you must have a one-sheet for your market, do it electronically and print-on-demand. I say, save the trees!

— Jim Cathcart

I am doing one-sheet mailings to associations right now and though replies aren’t trackable yet, I know that (if they are opening the envelope) I’m getting their attention for a moment. Most mail gets opened, unlike many emails. So, I’d say use hard copy for 10% of your marketing and just have it in reserve for instant printing.

— Roberta Guise

The answer is: it depends. Here’s what I advise my clients:

You should have at least one finely produced takeaway for audiences at presentations, and especially for back-of-the-room. Otherwise, you may find people getting on their iPhones and Blackberries to check out your Web site while you’re presenting.

If you ever have a booth/table at a conference, you’ll need take-aways there too.

You’ll need a hard-copy press kit (with a press release announcing a news story), for certain trade shows/conferences that host a media room (this is where reporters walk around looking for interesting items to write about).

Be sure to have at least a professionally produced one-sheet (or 4-pager fold-over). Instead of a saddle-stitched brochure (i.e., center-stapled) use your one-sheet to send people to your Web site.

A useful compromise is to have a business card “brochure” or “tent” business card. The card folds over for reading on four sides, meaning you can put bucket loads of information and value messages in it.

— Meggin McIntosh

I still use hard-copy marketing materials — and pretty much not letters anymore because there is no reason for people to keep them. I use postcards, pens, mini-posters, and the like. So, for me, it’s still working and still pays off. People call me from my contact info on these and will indicate that they have had the item for quite awhile.

— Chip Eichelberger

I cannot remember the last request I have had for a printed piece from a bureau or client. Everything is on my Web site.

— Milo Shapiro

I like to have a few nice color one-sheets with me in case I meet someone who is not the decision maker, but who has the connection (her boss, husband, colleague...).

The business card can only do so much to pique interest by comparison and emails are easily disregarded on busy days. But that paper they took home from you takes a more conscious effort to discard or deliver.

My theory, anyway. But I almost never mail anything anymore.

— Bill Conerly

I get about one request per year for a DVD; none for brochure or one-sheet. My recommendation: put effort into getting good quality video on your Web site rather than physical production.

— Jeff Davidson

My clients and prospects are uniformly pleased when I give them links to PDF files representing the speaker material I used to mail. Consequently, when my inventory of hardcopy materials runs out, I am not likely to reprint ANY of it!

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