Print collateral refers to all the goodies you use to market or promote your business. Examples include business cards, posters, thank you notes, & bumper stickers.
Creating collateral for your business is a powerful way to increase brand recognition, while “gifting” your potential client with something in the process. When designed well and strategically they can be an extremely effective way to get the word out that you are in business and have something seriously game changing to offer.
But is buying a case of pens with logos on it really going to increase your bottom line?
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty gritty: what type of collateral you need for your business, common pitfalls to avoid, and printing shop recommendations. I’m going to cover it all.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Using collateral to improve client experience
Every interaction a buyer has with our brand is part of their experience. In order to position your business as one that gives a shit, you need to place yourself in the customers’ shoes. If you were making a purchase in your industry, what little details would you notice? Is there anything that would shock and delight you and make you say, “Oh damn! They really went the extra mile!”
The type of collateral that will be most effective for you will vary depending on who you are and what industry you’re in.
If you’re a wedding photographer, perhaps you hand out stickers to wedding guests who inquire about your biz. And maybe you give your couples a custom picture frame with your favorite shot from their wedding.
Or maybe you’re a coach, and a handwritten note with a custom sticker that sports your fave motivational quote would really show your clients that you care.
The key here is to get creative, put yourself in your customers shoes and ask what would make a positive difference (if even only a small one) in their experience with your business.
There's a human being behind your business after all, and collateral can be an incredible way to foster connection and stay top of mind.
Skimping on this will hurt you in the long run, because current clients are the best source of marketing for our business (hello referrals!)
So don’t “save” $50 on stickers that could connect you with a client who will pay you $5,000. You’re too smart for that shit. Seriously.
Collateral is an investment like anything else. It is an investment in you and in serving your people.
Not-so-boring marketing collateral
We’ve all heard of business cards and magnets, but let’s be real: it’s 2020 and the creative world doesn’t settle for boring.
Aside from your cookie cutter marketing products that may be effective or may get thrown in a drawer with another 100 loose biz cards, I suggest doing something a little different.
The following is a list of unique marketing collateral ideas you can create to promote, advertise, and thank your audience
Enamel pins or buttons: Cute pins you can pin on your backpack or your purse, sporting your logo or a brand mark associated with your company
Candles: Now your brand can look and smell great with custom candles (which make for an ah-mazing client gift)
Pocket mirrors: Remind your customers that they look great with custom pocket mirrors with a personalized-to-you design
Embroidered Patches: Like for girl scouts only different.
Custom YETI or tumblr: Sip in style with an on-brand travel mug
Online Printing Shop Recommendations
Some of the best when it comes to speed, customer service, and quality.
Tower Press: A woman-owned (holler!) small business that specializes in branded collateral for small businesses. They’re feminine, whimsical, and professional, and I seriously couldn’t recommend these ladies enough. This is also where you'll be able to print *most* of the not-so-boring collateral listed above.
Moo: A designer’s dream. All the basics and so much more, printed quickly and professionally by the leader in the industry.
Sticker Mule: Amazing deals on stickers and decals, plus more collateral to boot. A bigger operation, so it’s great if you need a fast turnaround time on design proofs and quick shipping. I also recommend signing up for their email list, where they’ll send you promos for INSANE deals (we’re talking $19 for custom sticker packs that should be $69!)
Canva: You can create your collateral right in the platform and send it off to be printed with just a click. I have noticed their customer service isn’t as speedy with replies, but they are helpful once they get around.
Printing best practices
The design is complete and you’re off to the printers to see the magic come to life. But hold up a second! If this is your first time getting something printed, there are a few common mistakes you’ll want to avoid to make sure your printed goods exceed your expectations. Because let's be honest, no one wants a blurry business card.
Be sure to print using CMYK
CMYK is designer speak for the color system that is used during printing. It stayed for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). If you hire a designer to create your collateral, they'll know this but if it's a DIY project, be sure to pay attention to the color mode you're using. This will often require converting from hex or RGB.
Send the source file, if possible
Most designers create in vector-based software that allows you to indefinitely resize your image without loosing resolution. This is fancy talk for saying, the same design can get really big or really small without becoming blurry. Sending your printer the source file is a great way to ensure that they are able to resize your design. Not all online printers give you the ability to do this. But it can be helpful, and I recommend doing so if possible.
Pay careful attention to resolution
When you export designs from most software, there will be various resolution options. Making sure you are sending a file with a high resolution to avoid blurry images and wonky colors.
When clients hire me to create collateral, we sit down and discuss the strategy first and foremost. We discuss common interactions they have with their ideal client, and how marketing collateral could effortlessly be added to the situation to make it more memorable. Plus, we'll discuss your industry specifically to unlock what types of collateral will likely be most effective for converting your audience into wowed clients.
Convinced that collateral in the next right investment for your business? Reach out and let's chat more about your business and how quality collateral design can increase your bottom line (and add a little fun to your life!)