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Common Print Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Reducing Errors and Unexpected Costs in your Print Marketing Efforts

As one of the largest commercial printers in Overland Park, AlphaGraphics has seen a ton of great print marketing materials go out into the world. Even though we’re living in a digital world of marketing and advertising, print marketing is still very much in the picture when it comes to getting the word out about a company, product, or special event. Although it costs nothing to send out an email or to make a Facebook post, what companies are realizing is that competing in the digital realm can be very costly if you actually want to be seen. People are also getting rather good about ignoring emails that they believe pertain to marketing or that intend to sell them on something by the subject line alone.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed in several decades is how people go through their mail. At the very least, you know your print marketing materials will get their fair share of facetime amongst their normal cycle of bills, catalogues, and coupons. This is why print marketing and printing services remain relevant, especially among older demographics who are more receptive to hardcopy marketing collateral.

With print marketing and commercial printing comes a list of potential mistakes that anyone can fall victim to if they’re not careful. Worst of all, these mistakes are permanent because they’re on paper, and there’s no magical “unsend” button you can hit after the fact. That’s why we’re taking the time to point out the seven most common print marketing mistakes, and also how to avoid them. If you follow these tips, you’ll see more success with your print marketing campaigns and spend far less time and effort fixing mistakes.

Mistake #1 – The Person Designing Your Print Ads isn’t a Designer

The sad truth is that many companies don’t see the value of a designer until they need one, and even then, they may try to circumvent the issue by using whoever is around the office that claims to know what they’re doing. This is how a lot of companies wind up with sub-par marketing collateral that are full of errors and just flat-out don’t look good. Although it’s nice to find people internally that want to do things above and beyond their job description, designing should be left to designers the same way selling should be left to sales. Designers have a command over the elements of design and the tools that a novice simply won’t have. If you can’t afford to have a full-time designer on staff, hire one on a freelance basis. They will not only know about the design aspect, but should be able to walk you through the ins and outs of the commercial printing process.

Mistake #2 – They Go as Cheap as Possible

CEOs and CFOs often have a mentality that the least expensive way is the best way. That kind of thinking is helpful when it comes to maintaining a healthy bottom line, but it doesn’t translate when it comes to design and print marketing collateral. Oftentimes, cheap means cheap. Cheap quality, cheap paper stock, and an overall look of cheapness that won’t look good for your customers. People take notice of things like that and could prematurely judge your entire business based on one bad print ad. When it comes to print marketing collateral and printing services, have a budget in mind, but also have the customer’s experience in mind, too. Your print marketing materials are supposed to wow them and get them to take notice. In order to do that, you’ll have to be willing to invest in high-quality materials and design.

Mistake #3 – There’s a Typo

We’ve all been guilty of typos and grammatical errors. We use the wrong variation of to/too/two or confuse “you’re” with “your ”. We misspell things, misplace commas, and forget punctuation where it’s needed. Spelling and grammar mistakes happen all the time, but in print marketing, they are plain embarrassing. Not only do typos make your company look careless and unprofessional, they usually are the only thing recipients can remember when they think about your ad. To avoid making this mistake in the future, have a professional copywriter or editor review your materials; they are trained to find these types of errors. If you can’t afford one, have several people around your office review the marketing materials looking for mistakes. The more eyes on it, the better. You don’t want to have your entire campaign ruined by one punctuation error or typo.

Mistake #4 – There’s No Clear Call-to-Action

A print ad can do a lot of things. It can tell people about your products or services, hype up your upcoming events, or promote a sale. However, if there’s no clear call-to-action, then it may leave your customers wondering what to do next. And if a customer doesn’t know what to do next, then chances are, they’ll discard your ad and never look back. Remember, print marketing ads are prompts for your customer to take some sort of action and connect with your company. At the end of the ad, there needs to be a clear call-to-action that encourages a desired behavior. That could be visiting your website or calling a specific telephone number. Whatever the action is, it needs to be clear, specific, and concise. Many call-to-actions use the terms “learn more by going to…” or “visit our website at…” Don’t forget to include this step.

Mistake #5 – Cluttering the Ad

A common rookie mistake made by non-design folks is that they try to pack in as much information as possible into their print marketing collateral. They view whitespace as “unused real estate,” and so the end result are materials that are chalk-full of information but are visually unappealing and hard to digest. Remember, the entire point of print marketing is to get the person to want to read what you’re sending them. That means giving them enough information, but not so much that it looks like a page out of a paperback novel. Use best practices when it comes to utilizing white space. The reader should be hooked by your ad or marketing materials with one simple glance. That glance should then evolve into them actually taking the time to read what you sent them. If your ad is totally cluttered, it may wind up going straight into the trash without a second thought.

Mistake #6 – Using Stock Images

Using stock images can seem like a good idea at the time because they’re cheap and easy to find online. What you have to keep in mind is that if you’re using a stock image then it’s highly likely that several other companies are using the very same image. This means that your marketing materials lack the luster of being unique, and nobody wants to be a copy-cat. Fortunately, this is a very easy fix. To avoid ever running into this problem, make sure to only use original images that aren’t being circulated online. Use a professional camera to ensure that you are getting a high-resolution image that will translate well to your marketing collateral.

Mistake #7 – Not Understanding the Technical Elements of Print

It goes without saying, but print advertising and digital advertising are two different animals. You can play it a bit fast and loose with digital because it’s so easy to make continual adjustments and tweaks. With print you have to get things right on the first try. Otherwise, you either end up having to redo the materials or have to settle for a subpar print run. Most of the bad batches in print marketing come about because there was a technical detail that was overlooked or misunderstood. For instance, brochures, catalogues, and postcards all come in different sizes. If you don’t have the right design for the right size, then that means your end product isn’t going to fit right. Another technical element is regarding bleed, which is something pro designers are well aware of but the layman may not be. If you don’t understand the technical elements, then the best course of action is to take the guesswork out of it by hiring a professional print rep who is well versed in the commercial printing process. They can walk you through sizing, bleed, and all other formatting details. In the end, it’s going to be worth it knowing you’ll get your marketing materials right the first time.

Contact the Professionals at AlphaGraphics Today for Your Next Print Campaign!

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re one of the largest commercial printers in Johnson County and can help you in the creation of your next big mailing of marketing collateral to promote your business. We can do all shapes and sizes of printing, from small postcards to thick brochures that use heavy cardstock paper. Large format printing in Johnson County and the greater Kansas City area uses special production equipment that can handle special projects that go outside of normal printing sizes, which means there’s no limit to how creative we can get with your marketing collateral. The best way to see what we can do for you is by visiting our print services page on our website.

To contact us directly, give us a call at (913) 236-8888 or use our contact form to send your question via email.

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