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Is Print Collateral Still Important?

August 13, 2020 | Design

Print collateral, such as postcards, catalogs, branded stationery, pens, clothing, business cards or brochures, has always played a pivotal role in business. With digital marketing growing in prominence, many may wonder whether it is still worth using print collateral. In short, yes, it is. With Inkwell USA reporting an average CPI (cost per impression) of $.004, print collateral is the cheapest form of media to utilize, and it is just as effective, if not more so, than other types of marketing. 

You may be thinking:

  • Why do we need business cards when we have LinkedIn?
  • Why give away a brochure when the information is on our website?
  • Why would we use snail mail when we could just send an email instantly?
  • We sell software, why give away T-Shirts?

The answer to each of the questions is the same: It’s about the experience. People like free things and they like physical items they can touch and feel. USPS found that 67% of people find physical mail to be more personal than mail sent over the internet, and opening a real letter brings people genuine pleasure. So sure, a hard copy letter may take more effort, but the payoff is usually worth it. 

Why Use Print Collateral?

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition is the ability for consumers to recognize one brand from another based on its attributes. These attributes can be a variety of things: jingles, logos, fonts, colors or any other identifying factor. While the concept of brand recognition is simple enough, the crux of the issue lies in building a memorable image for your brand; you need credibility to gain trust, exposure to increase awareness and loyalty to get people coming back.


In this day and age, many companies exist primarily in virtual realms. This is a good thing in many areas: lower overhead, quicker updates, immediate response to clients: but as Hannah Montana said, nobody’s perfect (not even the internet). With only 53% of adults in the USA saying that they trust the internet according to the Centre for International Governance Innovation, how is a web-centered brand supposed to succeed? 

The answer is simple – you have to show consumers that your brand is worthy of their trust. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, and primarily it should be done by selling great products or services. However, it doesn’t matter how good the product or service is if consumers don’t trust you enough to try it – this is where promotional giveaways come in. Giving away high-quality print collateral indicates that your brand cares about the quality of the goods and services you produce. Often, printed collateral is the first interaction a person has with a brand – so making a strong first impression is essential.

Don’t just give away branded pens, give away the best pens, the type of pens you look for under couch cushions. No one forgets the logo on their go-to _____ (pen, bag, mug, notepad, etc.).


Perhaps the best side effect of promotional print collateral is the exposure it brings to your brand. According to Norscot, 73% of people who used a free giveaway they obtained in the last year say they use it at least one time a week, and 45.2% used it at least once a day

Byron Sharp, the author of ‘How Brands Grow,’ defines mental availability as “the probability that a buyer will notice, recognize and/or think of a brand in buying situations. It depends on the quality and quantity of memory structures related to the brand.” 

Having your company’s logo stamped on the items people use in their day to day lives is a great way to start. Humans are not as complicated as one may think, at least when it comes to purchasing decisions. People buy what they like, like what they trust, and trust what’s familiar. 

Someone may see your banner ads daily without a second thought – but every time someone pulls out the free reusable bag with your gardening supplies logo, they are reminded of your company, and perhaps the fact that they are due for a new watering can. 


One of the most critical aspects of business is customer retention, which is deeply intertwined with customer loyalty. Fortunately for marketers and business people alike, promotional giveaways leave a long-lasting impression. DesignHill found that 89% of people can recall a brand two years after receiving a promotional product from them. The power in that statistic should not be understated; researchers estimate that the average person is exposed to upwards of 5,000 advertisements a day, so the vast majority of people being able to recall your brand two years later is impressive, to say the least.  

Lead Generation

By giving away free print collateral, you are essentially recruiting ~ free ~ brand ambassadors. Many consumers still see word-of-mouth advertising as the most reliable source of information regarding their purchasing decisions, so what could be better than happy customers going around town wearing your T-shirt? They’re practically walking billboards for your brand.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

You may be wondering: How can giving away a promotional item to one person at a time have any impact? It’s a bit of a trick question. The answer is that you’re not really giving an item to one person, you’re just starting the process. A study by DesignHill found that 63% of consumers give their promotional products to other people when they no longer need them. This means that you are reaching the person who received your item and the people that item gets passed along to (plus all the people who see that item being used). 


Print collateral can be the thing that makes or breaks a sale. Sure, you probably have client testimonials and product information on your website, but I would advise against relying 100% on the web. When you invite the internet into the buying process, you invite competition, distraction and analysis paralysis – the inability to make a decision when too many options are presented. Many studies have confirmed this phenomenon: consumers are far more likely to buy when they are presented with limited options (6 to be exact) instead of 20 or 30. 

If a client asks you in-person for information regarding your product/service, directing them to your website could be detrimental. Most problems consumers hope to solve with a purchase can be solved by a number of companies, and sometimes that number is in the thousands. If you direct them to your website, you’re also directing them to the internet (AKA: an unlimited collection of distractions). This is why you want to prepare printed pamphlets, brochures, pricing guides or whatever your client may need to know. Now, instead of limitless options and companies to choose from, the customer has your consolidated list of services.  

One of the lesser talked about benefits of print collateral is its use for the indecisive buyer, the one who needs to really, really mull it over before committing. Giving them informative takeaways allows them to look over your offerings on their own time, in their own way. Plus, if (or when) they forget, finding a pamphlet in their coat pocket may be a helpful reminder to make that purchase. 

How to Use Print Collateral

Unfortunately, there’s no one answer on how to create print collateral that actually closes the deal, but there are plenty of steps to make sure you’re on the right track. For informational print collateral, such as brochures, pamphlets and pricing guides, the goal is to find the right balance between digestible and informative; you don’t want to leave your clients with questions, nor do you want to overwhelm them with unnecessary information. 

Informational print collateral is a great place to personalize the experience for the buyer – it could be as simple as taking a highlighter to the services that are best for them or as involved as making a pricing guide unique for that client – what matters is that they feel important.   

Giveaway Items

Fun giveaways offer a lot of artistic freedom in terms of the designs you choose and the items you choose to put them on. That being said, you still want to stick with a tone (visually and verbally) that matches the rest of your branding. In most cases, you’ll want to include your company logo and a concise and actionable call to action. 

What Items to Choose?

Why are branded giveaways so much fun? Because you can make virtually anything – no need to stay inside the box. The only rules for giveaways are that they should reflect on your brand well and be useful in people’s daily lives. Here are a few ideas to get going:

  • Bags: tote bags, reusable grocery bags, athletic bags
  • Clothing: T-Shirts, socks, hats
  • Gear: water bottles, fans, chapstick
  • Trends: popsockets, phone pockets, fidget spinners

Don’t let these options limit your creativity, some of the best giveaways are weird, niche, or more of a joke than anything else – it just depends on what your brand needs. Of course, the best type of giveaway item will depend largely on who you are as a company: if your target market is homeowners over 65, fidget spinners may not be the move. 

Proofing Print Collateral with Ashore

Print collateral can be a walking, talking advertisement for your brand – so you want it to turn out just right. Luckily, Ashore makes the process of reviewing and approving print collateral easy for marketing and creative teams. By streamlining the process, artists can submit their work for approval and get immediate feedback from approvers before sending their design to the printer. Not only does Ashore save our users time, but it also improves approver feedback and gets projects approved with fewer iterations. If this sounds like something you’d be into, sign up for a free Ashore account today! You do the designing – we’ll handle the rest. 

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