Clients often ask me if they can print their own marketing materials in order to save money. This is a tricky question, because, yes, of course it’s possible to print your own marketing materials so long as you have access to a printer and some paper. So, of course, you can either take a PDF from your designer and print it, or lay something out in Word or Publisher and run it off.

But, beyond the question of whether you can print your own marketing materials is whether you should. This often boils down to a simple question of whether printing materials yourself will present the right image for your company — whether the materials you produce will actually look good enough to represent your company well. And, of course, whether printing the materials yourself will actually save you money, or if it will be worth the time it will take.

And, whether you should depends on a few factors:

  • The age of your business. If you’re just starting your business, then printing some materials may make sense. Printing yourself would be a cost-effective way to start getting clients in the door, and this way you can start by testing your designs and marketing messages. If you’ve been around for a while, clients may expect to see professionally printed materials.
  • Your confidence in your text. You could use your early home-printed materials to test your marketing text with your audience — there’s no use in professionally printing hundreds of copies of anything and then discovering that it doesn’t connect with or make sense to your audience. Or that you’ve accidentally misrepresented some bit of information. Try printing a few at home to see if they’re effective before producing thousands.
  • The actual amount of money (and time) that you’ll save. Printing things at home still has a cost associated with it. There are the hard costs of paper and ink, along with wear and tear on your printer. And, then there’s the expense of your time — how much are you willing to spend waiting for your printer, fixing paper jams, feeding in new paper, and trimming the finished prints down to size? With the option of printing many pieces digitally these days, and discount printers available online (like www.psprint.com), the cost of professionally printing materials is not really that large — so do some research and see if you can afford to have your materials printed. It may pay off by saving you time and irritation.
  • The loss of credibility that you’ll face. What goes through your mind when you receive a packet of printed materials that are obviously printed on a home or office printer? Do you wonder if the business is stable? If they’re worth their asking price? If they take pride in their work? Do you think about their level of sophistication? You don’t want any of these sorts of thoughts going through a new prospect’s mind. You want them to get your materials, be impressed, and then to consider hiring you — you don’t want to create more questions in their minds.
  • The likelihood that your competition’s materials will look better. Unless you’re in a very “homey” industry (like a babysitter or errand running service), then there’s a good chance that your competitors are printing their materials professionally. You want your materials to look as good as — if not better than — your competition’s materials. This includes print quality and design.
  • What marketing materials you’re planning to print. Printing a flyer out on your home or office printer sends out an entirely different message than printing your business cards yourself. So, ask if printing your piece at home is appropriate for the actual piece itself.

In the next article, I’ll talk specifically about which types of marketing materials make sense to print yourself, and which ones you shouldn’t print at home — and why.