Why Use Print Collateral for Marketing?


There’s a widely held belief that in this digital age, online marketing has superseded printed marketing collateral in conveying sales and information materials to existing and potential customers. But is that really the case?

If you believe this, you could be missing out on one of the most powerful forms of communication with customers. More importantly, missing out on potential business.

Print marketing was delivering exceptional returns on investment long before the advent of digital marketing. The conversion rates are better than online marketing, putting your brand directly in the hands of your customers.

Direct mail is winning out

Direct mail is definitely winning out, in comparison with email marketing. A recent survey showed that 67% find physical mail to be more personal than the internet. 98% of people check their actual delivered mail every day, but average open rates for email communications are far lower.

Print collateral is kept for longer simply because it’s real and makes a lasting impression. It’s direct contact with potential customers and works in the same way as face-to-face interactions. Research shows that recipients of printed marketing collateral have more belief in the trustworthiness of the brand they’re handling. More on that later!

A few relevant statistics

If you’re of the opinion that printed marketing collateral compared with online content is just a waste of trees, producing expensive catalogues, flyers and brochures that nobody reads, it’s time to think again.

Did you know that 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to 30% of email?

Or that direct mail door drops stay in a home for an average of 5.4 days, partially addressed and fully addressed mail stays in a home for an average of 7 days or more, whereas emails have an average lifespan of 2 seconds? Source: Royal Mail, Market Reach.

“Campaigns including print are 67% more effective at delivering new customers than those without.”

Stay with us. We’ll demonstrate that print marketing is an extremely effective medium that when managed correctly can deliver truly phenomenal ROI.

What is Print Marketing?

So what is print marketing? Any printed marketing collateral produced and disseminated for marketing purposes. Also known as ‘leave-behind materials’ – marketing materials that stay with the customers – and they’re always printed.

Let’s start with branded stationery and items such as business cards through to catalogues, brochures, product guides, instruction manuals, sales packs, booklets, training manuals, and prospectuses.

Turning to print marketing collateral for direct mail purposes, this can be either fully addressed (to a specific person at an address) or partially addressed (just to a household).

Direct mail materials could be anything from printed leaflets to cards, booklets and promotional items. Direct mail appeals to consumers of all ages and different audiences, with 70% of people saying mail made them feel more valued as a customer.

Then we have large format print marketing collateral options including posters, banners, billboards and window graphics through to pop-up stands and exhibition materials, creating the impact to ensure your brand is clearly visible and gets noticed.

How does it compare to digital marketing?

We know that print marketing collateral has a longer lifespan than email or digital marketing. Research has also shown that it can deliver a higher conversion rate than digital collateral, as well as boost sales.

For printed marketing materials, newspaper ads are viewed 2.5 times longer than the average digital ad, and 81% of people have bought an item or visited a place after reading about it in a magazine

“90% of campaigns that include door drops see an increase in new customers, compared to 59% of those without.”

“85% of consumers are more likely to choose products and services advertised using large printed signs, graphics, flyers, brochures and business cards.”

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.


Pricing is an important consideration. The cost to a business of producing large numbers of brochures or leaflets or other printed collateral for distribution, combined with the actual physical cost of distribution, makes print marketing a more costly choice than online options.

However, when the return on this investment for your company is potentially significantly higher, then the printed approach may well be the best choice and the most successful route to winning new business and boosting sales.

Increasingly, more affordable digital printing options are creating new and exciting opportunities for closely targeted print marketing collateral and marketing materials.

Customisation is making print marketing far more personal and further increasing its effectiveness. Once prohibited by cost, the unique approach is becoming ever more achievable when approaching potential clients.

Reach or spread

Online marketing has the capacity to achieve a global reach or spread your business, for little outlay. However, it won’t necessarily ensure you reach the right customers.

Opting for printed marketing collateral using an accurate and properly researched mailing list, which can be either fully or partially addressed depending on your strategy, you have the opportunity to identify your customers and then address them directly and personally, with collateral they can hold in their hands and choose to retain.

“Psychological experiments show that people value something they can see and touch 24% more highly than something they can only see.”  Source: Royal Mail, Market Reach.

 “87% of consumers rate messages delivered by mail as believable, compared to 48% for email.” Source: Royal Mail, Market Reach.


In a hurry? OK, so online marketing can be instantaneous. It’s easier to react immediately to evolving trends, current news stories or an identified and developing demand.

When you choose the print marketing collateral approach, you have to allow more time for concepts, designs, production and delivery times.

You need to plan more carefully, but then additional planning can be a positive element of your marketing strategy. In addition, fast-developing print technologies mean that production times are shortening rapidly.

Combining new technology with smart automated workflows like the ones we use at Smart Printing Company means it’s faster and easier to deploy your campaigns across different media.


Agreed, it’s quicker and easier to change messages when using online communications than printed collateral. If you want to alter an offer or a price, or even a call to action, add a special offer, alter advantages and benefits or add an ancillary product or service to the offer, then you’re talking about keystrokes rather than design revisions and reprinting.

The volatility of your product or service can be an important consideration when making the choice between online and print marketing.

Measuring the results

Evaluating the results of your campaigns is vital. Print marketing collateral enables you to track response rates and sales/conversions easily and accurately. You can even run limited test campaigns to assess what messages and content yield the best results.

The benefits? Your business campaigns are more successful and effective, you have a much better indication of what is working and how, and you can use this information to optimise ROI.

Build brand awareness

Print collateral also works to underline the credibility and trustworthiness of your business. It works to establish and reaffirm your company’s brand image. Custom print collateral helps to build stronger brand awareness, and tangible marketing materials build a relationship between the company and the customer.

Bespoke print collateral is quite simply different. It’s not part of the digital world that bombards us every day, and it has an important role to play in building your brand’s reputation and generating more leads.

How can print marketing collateral support digital marketing collateral?

The most effective marketing strategies will combine a healthy mix of both print and online collateral to promote your company’s products or services.

It’s all about creating good content, with effective, eye-catching design and production, ensuring your timings and targets are right for the market and that your content in both arenas works seamlessly together and creates the right impression.

Printed marketing collateral supports a digital strategy very effectively in the same way. Printed media is a great example of how to drive traffic online to social media platforms, to online information, to landing pages and adds value in the real world to digital marketing assets.

Combine print and digital for the best results

It’s a two-way street; printed matter can direct traffic to online destinations via techniques like QR codes. It’s a fact that businesses combining print and digital in their marketing strategies can and will reach a greater number of existing and potential customers, increasing brand awareness and audience reach.

Today’s smart marketer looks at how direct mail marketing using print and digital marketing collateral strategies can work effectively together to increase impact, with printed materials driving audiences to an online presence

Print marketing strategies

Whatever your chosen route, it’s vital to have a marketing strategy governing your actions. You need to understand why you are undertaking defined marketing activities, and what results you can expect from your efforts.

Your strategy need not be set in stone. It can and should evolve to match identified market trends and requirements to drive sales.

Having the ability to understand your response rates and successes will enable you to make the right changes to your strategies. Having a plan will always help ensure positive results.

The why, who, what and where

Understand the why, who, what and where elements of your campaign before you make decisions on how to achieve your objectives.

Decide on your objectives. Do you want to attract new potential customers? Retain current clients? Are you launching new products or services? Do you want to build brand awareness? Are you seeking to generate repeat business?

Do you want to interact with customers or improve customer loyalty? Knowing what you want to achieve will help you measure the success of your activities.

How are you aiming to measure your success? Additional traffic to your website? Leads generated? Enquiries received? Referrals?

The right print collateral makes it easier

Custom print collateral can make tracking your actual results so much easier. You can use unique tracking codes, a QR code and offer codes to identify the source of each enquiry. You can include unique telephone numbers with different campaigns to accurately measure responses.

More detailed results can be achieved by using different codes within the same campaign to identify where the best conversion results are originating.

What’s more, the process can be automated – a good print marketing company will advise on this. Remember to use your results data and knowledge to improve future campaigns.

Decide who you are targeting. Existing clients? New clients? Cross-selling to other customers? Information for your customer base? People who clicked a link or abandoned a cart? Specific geographical locations, defined demographics such as recently retired, pet owners? Hobbyists?

Partially and fully addressed mail

As mentioned earlier, consider the benefits of partially addressed or fully addressed mail. Partially addressed mail addresses a household and not an individual, and is therefore always GDPR compliant.

“88% of partially addressed mail is opened, read, filed or set aside for later.” Source: JICMAIL Q2 2018 – Q1 2019

Fully addressed mail includes full personalisation and is therefore subject to GDPR regulations. Data houses and data brokers sell GDPR-compliant data, and this is usually the best and quickest way to acquire your data.

You can segment in many different ways when you buy business data, such as geographic location, business size or focus (using SCI codes), and even interests and behaviours to achieve measurable objectives.

Always consider your timing

Timing your campaign correctly will help ensure you optimise the results. No point trying to sell Easter eggs at Christmas!

Remember industry events such as major exhibitions, or even nationwide effects like school holidays can impact behaviours and buying patterns. Always consider seasonality and plan well in advance.

If you’re launching a new product to your customer base, consider teaser campaigns, early bird promotions or exclusive offers for existing customers to generate leads. Automating your marketing systems in terms of follow-ups will contribute to the success of your campaigns.

Understand your lead times

Design, production and delivery all take time, and the complexity of your printed collateral will impact the time it takes to get the item from initial concept through to delivery.

If you have incorporated special processes like die cutting and embossing or laminating involved in your custom print collateral work, you’ll need to allow for extra time. Your print partner will be able to advise you accurately on this.


You may find it useful to employ specialist fulfilment services to handle the sending of your campaigns, certainly if they are large-scale. Don’t forget to ensure you have the capacity to meet the increased demand for your products!

Choosing the right offer

Even the greatest print collateral marketing materials in support of your products and services won’t work if you don’t market them to the right audience.

Select relevant offers, add-ons or upgrades. It doesn’t always have to be about special offers and discount codes. Planning your proposition and choosing your audience carefully will enhance your success rate and drive sales.

“91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognise, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.” Source: Accenture Pulse Survey

Look back at previous campaigns and marketing materials and learn from the results when planning your next campaign. A good CRM system will give you so much material to create offers designed around identified customer behaviours.

Make the most of personalisation

It makes your customers feel valued. Even though people understand the workings behind personalisation, there is a bonus to receiving communications with our name on it that makes us feel special and creates a very personal connection.

So make it personal, keep it short and to the point, and make sure your message is clear and attractive to the recipient and you will see the benefits in the response rates.

The AIDA approach

Try using the process AIDA as a guideline – it really works. Always remember the call to action!

Attention: grab the reader’s attention with a strong title or headline

Interest: generate interest in your offer by promoting the benefits

Desire: make the reader desire your offer – create an emotional connection

Action: ask the reader to take action

Be creative too!

Creative design will influence response rates. Keeping an eye on the marketing budget, take the opportunity to invest in professional creative design for your new marketing collateral. It’s worth spending money to reap the rewards.

A good designer will take the time and effort to understand your products or services when creating collateral and instantly communicate key benefits clearly and effectively, helping to ensure your campaign is memorable.

What’s more, it will help your business and your brand look more professional in the eyes of your target audience.  

“38% of people said that the physical properties of a mail piece will influence how they feel about the sender.” Source: Royal Mail, Market Reach.


“Mail is remembered 35% more than social media ads and 49% more than email.” Source: Royal Mail, Market Reach.

It’s not the right approach for every business, but it has an important role to play in the marketing mix. It’s a tough and competitive market for all businesses.

Re-evaluating your strategies and working to use both print and online marketing collateral together in an effective manner will help you move your business forward.

Talk to our professional team. Smart Printing Company has the in-depth knowledge and expertise to contribute positively to your campaigns and initiatives, and the drive to work with you to ensure every opportunity is optimised.

If you’d like more help with planning, designing and fulfilling your campaigns, contact us for a no-obligation chat on how our systems can make campaigns easy and successful.

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