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Marketing Materials: Finding the Right Mix



In developing marketing materials for your business deciding on the best combination of items to promote your goods or services, to serve your day-to-day needs, and to meet the budget is a critical and at times baffling task. The right mix of items will work for you to garner prospects and to keep existing customers informed while the wrong materials can be a drag on everything you try to accomplish.

Every business person immediately thinks "business cards," and certainly these universally accepted means of exchanging contact data are important -- but no more important than your letterhead or your company brochure. The following items are the most commonly used marketing materials and the ones most readily available to any business large or small.

Business Cards

Generally the first thing a prospect or a new client sees after meeting you is your business cards Take special care to design a card with complete information that also has good visual appeal and makes a tactile impression. High quality card stock or coated stock communicates quality and reinforces your professional image. Traditional cards are printed in black and white but consider a two-color card to stand out from the pack. Be sure to include:

name and position
company name and tag line
complete telephone information (toll-free, cell, pager, fax)
e-mail address

Make sure the typeface you use is clear and legible and that card elements are not crammed together.

Letterhead

Even in this day of email and faxes, your letterhead makes an important statement about your business. Coordinate the design of the letterhead with your business card so your clients and prospects will easily associate the two. Like your business card, letterhead should reflect the tone and purpose of your business. Financial advisors, for instance, would want a more subdued, stable appearance while a party planner would choose something brighter and more festive. Consider:

the weight and color of your paper
have matching envelopes printed at the same time to save costs
having both full-sized sheets and note sheets printed
using two-colors, especially if your business has a logo

Brochures

While many businesses shy away from the expense of tri-fold, four-color brochures, such an elaborate product is not always necessary to get your message across. A single sheet folded in half and printed in two colors may be just as effective or for that matter a black-and-white brochure on colored paper. The critical elements in a brochure are:

good copy
tight foucs
effective use of space
a call to action (compelling the reader to do a particular thing)

In considering brochures always think about where they will be placed. Will a brochure do you the most good in public where it will attract attention or should it be designed as a mail out for parties interested in more information?

Flyers

If you can't afford brochures, think about a single sheet flyer. (Normally flyers are printed three to a sheet on 8.5" x 11" paper and cut.) Flyers are less expensive and highly flexible. They can be used to:

explain a product or service
promote a sale or the introduction of a new item
advertise an event
issue a price list

Really the use of flyers is limited only by your imagination. Often they can be produced in house to save money.

Postcards

Like flyers, postcards are extremely versatile marketing tools. They can be used for any of the same purposes as a flyer as well as to:

promote a website with a screen capture and URL
remind customers to replenish their stock of an item
invite top customers to private sales
fish for prospects
introduce new staff members

The standard U.S. postal rate for a stamped card is .23 cents and the cards must be no smaller than 2.5 x 5 inches and no larger than 4.25 x 6 inches with a minimum thickness of .007 inches and a maximum thickness of .25 inches.

Other Materials

Other materials that can be useful in promoting your business and attracting new clients are specialty and promotional marketing items. (Promotional items are especially popular because people feel that they're getting something special for free.)

Specialty items might include pre-printed Rolodex cards with your contact information. They are used after the fashion of a business card but have a tab and pre-stamped holes for use in a Rolodex.
Promotional items like pens, mouse pads, and cups are also popular because they are useful on a day-to-day basis and have high visibility for branding.

Working on the Mix

Initially you may only be able to afford business cards and letterhead, but always be "working on the mix" in your mind. Keep all of your marketing materials consistent in terms of appearance and quality. When you're able to afford a brochure makes sure its design coordinates with that of your cards and stationery. By steadily building an arsenal of well produced business materials you will always have the right tool for the right job ready and at hand.

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