Do you absolutely need to market with printed materials when you're first starting your business? It can be less expensive to go with online materials at the start, and offer you more chances to edit your copy – but, if you go to a lot of live networking events, or if your target audience just doesn't read or respond to online communications, you might really need to start with printed materials.

How do you design printed materials without messing up?

Printed materials have several elements to consider:

  • The design of the page, to make sure it's eye-catching but not too busy or distracting
  • The copy, to make sure it's easy to understand, compelling and leaves the prospect wanting more information or to purchase
  • The offer, to make sure it's clear, easy to buy, and includes all the important details
  • The printing, to make sure it's on good paper, has good color coverage, and that your files are prepared right to print correctly.  

This is a lot to go into a marketing piece, and it can be pretty overwhelming for a business owner who's just starting out. To simplify the process, here's what I recommend:

Choose a printed piece to design that's not too expensive to print. Starting out with a flyer or postcard makes a lot of sense – online printers like PS Print have low minimums on these pieces, and the cost per-piece is not very high. Starting out with something like a trifold brochure can be costly – the folding really adds to the price.

See if you can design a template that you can then edit yourself. Consider designing a flyer header (or having one designed),  and then place that into a Word file. Then, you can go into the Word document and edit the copy to create different flyers that are targeted to different prospects, or that have different offers, or even just different text. If you only need a few copies, you may even be able to print them out on your home or office printer. 

Then you can go to an event, hand them out, get feedback from actual prospects, and then go back to your computer and edit the flyer for the next event. 

Once you've perfected a piece that really works for you and for your prospects, then you can invest in having it professionally designed and printed.