Save Money on Your Marketing Material Costs

Or, in other words, get more bang for your buck

I had a meeting a few days ago with a potential new client who needed to plan her marketing material budget for her first year in business. After a long discussion, I went back to the office and drew up a budget for her, but decided it wasn’t just a matter of providing a quote. Knowing how new businesses struggle in the first year, coupled with today’s economy, I wanted to give suggestions on how she could get more bang for her buck.
Now, I am not a marketing guru; my expertise is more in layout and design. However, I hope the knowledge and experience I’ve gained during my many years involved in the newspaper and advertising industries, together with what I’ve learned since deciding to go into business two years ago, have enabled me to give her some food for thought.
Wondering how you can save money on your marketing material costs, or, in other words, get more bang for your buck. Here are the suggestions I made, edited, re-written and additional information added for a wider audience. They mostly relate to saving money on print material. Here are a few ideas for you.(This is a long read… you might want to sit down with a cup of coffee first!)

Create templates for your print material

If you have more than one market that you need to target at different times of the year, cut design costs by using the same layout for your print material, be it a flyer, rack card, poster or ad, and change only the target specific information.

  • Have your designer create a layout that incorporates both the generic elements (background colours or graphics and company information) and target specific elements for your first marketing campaign.
  • Keep the layout as simple as possible using a bold headline, short tag line, an impact photo, your company logo and slogan, web address and other contact information.
  • Your designer can quickly and easily change the headline, tag line and photo to suit each target market while the generic elements remain the same.
  • For two-sided flyers and folded pamphlets, use bullet points for your services, benefits and features which can be quickly changed to suit the target market.

Not only will you save money on design costs by using the same layout, you will also create brand awareness for your company.
Note: Always ask your designer to use hi-resolution photos and graphics that can be used in a variety of print media.

Use your website as your main source of information

Your website is available 24/7/365 whereas flyers and newspapers end up in the garbage can soon after received especially if your product or service is not needed at the time.
However, you do need to create brand awareness through print advertising so make sure your web address is highly visible on all print material. When a potential client needs your product or service some time in the future, they will remember your company name and will likely search for you on the internet.
Your website should contain as much useful and relevant information as possible. You not only aid search engine optimization, but it means you don’t have to include as much information in your print material. You can then keep print designs as simple as possible and reduce the size of your flyers and ads which will reduce design costs as well as printing and distribution costs.
Add as much information to your website as possible before you begin any marketing campaigns. Include all the generic information early on. There may be someone who needs your services straight away. However, if you need to spread the cost of your website over the year, add target specific information just ahead of each campaign.
Note: If you haven’t already registered a domain name, ensure the one you choose is as short as possible and memorable.

Attend trade shows and networking events

Plan to attend trade shows, networking events and other industry-related events. Create brand awareness and promote your company by investing in a large format banner sign that you can use for table top displays.
If you use a horizontal banner, the same design can be used for your website, saving you money on the design costs. If you use a vertical banner sign instead, any hi-resolution images and graphics used in the sign  can re-sized to use on the website as well. Not only will you save money on design costs, you will create brand awareness.
Note: Take plenty of business cards. If you have a display, have someone hold the fort while you visit all the other table tops and hand out your business card to prospective clients.

Make phone calls instead of mass marketing by direct mail

If you are business-to-business, instead of mass marketing through direct mail, cut printing and distribution costs by cold or warm calling instead, and reduce the number of flyers/post cards needed.
Use business, phone and online directories to locate your target market. Mail out your flyer to potential clients with an introductory letter and follow-up with a phone call. Business owners will appreciate the more personal contact and will be more likely to recognize your company name when you phone.
Alternatively, cold call potential clients first. Set up appointments with prospects and mail out your flyer ahead of your meeting or take it with you to hand to them in person, or if they prefer reading online, direct them to your website to learn more about your business.
If you don’t like cold calling, warm call potential clients that you’ve previously met at networking events, and only send your flyer to prospects who appear interested in or express a need for your services. Attend as many FREE networking events as possible. Aim to make as many new contacts as possible and hand out your business card so that they recognize your name when you call.
If you plan to advertise in a newspaper or magazine, or you attend a trade show or networking event, schedule your phone calls a day or two after your ad appears or after the event, so that your ad/display/face is fresh in your prospects’ minds when you call.
Note: If your market is not local, subscribe to a low-cost unlimited long distance package to save money on long distance calls.

Email campaigns reduce costs and are environmentally friendly

For those that don’t like cold calling, contact potential clients by email instead. Any prospects you do call, save on printing and distribution costs by following-up your call with an email.
Attach a digital copy of your flyer to your email instead of mailing out a printed copy. This will also save you money on printing and distribution, and it will help save the environment too. Have your designer create a screen resolution PDF of your flyer so that the attachment is not too large.
Add a subscribe-to-newsletter form to your website so that visitors can subscribe to your newsletter. When you call prospects ask if they would be interested in receiving your newsletters and obtain their email address.
Once you’ve built up a database of clients and potential clients, use Constant Contact or Mail Chimp to send out your marketing campaigns; email campaigns are a lot cheaper than printed material, and less harmful to the environment.
Keep your emails and newsletters brief but informative and always include a link to your website for more information and your contact details so prospects can contact you.
Note: As long as you follow Canada’s spam Act (Bill S-235) you should be able to run a successful email campaign.

In-house printing of low quantity, non-glossy print material

If your target market is small but you plan on frequent marketing campaigns, consider investing in a low-cost colour laser printer to print some of your flyers and posters. In the long term, in-house printing of your non-glossy flyers will work out cheaper than low quantity printing at a print shop.
Ideal for in-house printing are price lists, workshop dates, newsletters, seminar hand-outs and other text-based flyers which you can print on an as-needed basis. You can often create these flyers yourself too.
However, it is essential that you maintain your company branding so have your graphic designer create a simple template that includes your logo and contact information and always use the same structure for text and have someone proof read it before you send it out.
Do not use your in-house printer to print direct-mailed flyers and high visibility posters and signs especially those that contain photographs and other imagery. Neither reproduce well on cheap printers and the paper quality is often low making your flyers look unprofessional. There is no substitute for a quality hi-gloss flyer. Always use a professional print company in order to maintain your brand integrity.
Note: Always include your website on any mailings and posters.

Use newspaper or magazine ads instead of flyer inserts and direct mail

There may always be times when you need glossy flyers to promote your company: at trade shows and other networking events, at demographically strategic locations, to hand out at meetings, seminars and workshops.
Although some businesses may be able to avoid mass marketing through direct mail using some of the above suggestions and thereby keep printing and distribution costs to a minimum, for those that need to reach a larger audience mass mail may seem like the only alternative. However, consider advertising in a newspaper or industry-related magazine instead.
If your target market is localized and is covered by a newspaper’s circulation, newspaper advertising may be a much cheaper option than direct mailed flyers or inserts as there are no additional printing and distribution costs.
If, on the other hand, you target a specific industry but it is sporadically located, advertising in industry-related magazines might be a better option.
In both cases, your ad is less likely to get lost in a pile of so-called “junk mail” and thrown straight in the garbage can. It is also better for the environment. Most newspapers and magazines can also be found online nowadays, so you may get more bang for your buck that way too!
Don’t forget to ask the publishers if they offer discounts for supplying your own ad. If they do, it may be cheaper to have your designer re-size a flyer rather than have the magazine design a new ad from scratch. Not only will you save money but you will also create brand recognition.
Ask for bulk rates for advertising: this could be repeat ads once a quarter, the same ad appearing in more than one publication in the same chain, or a combination of offline and online advertising.
Note: Ask about target specific advertising specials! People interested in your product or service are more likely to notice your ad.

When mass marketing through direct mail can’t be avoided

Before having flyers designed, compare prices for different weight and size of flyers and obtain price breaks for different quantities both for print and distribution. Some of the following applies to any material you intend having printed whether mass distributed or not.

  • Obtain print costs for different paper weights, single versus double sided printing, folding and binding. Collect samples so that you can have them weighed and measured and obtain distribution costs for each weight and size.
  • Where size is an issue, compare the cost of having a folded flyer versus the additional charge for distributing a larger size unfolded. If the price is similar, consider using a rack card or post card instead.
  • If distribution costs increase by weight consider a lighter weight paper or card stock rather than shrinking the size.
  • Check whether the printer charges extra for bleed (where colours go right to the edge of the paper). If they do, consider reducing the size of the flyer to accommodate the bleed without increasing the cost.
  • For smaller flyers and rack cards, ask how many can fit to a sheet and if this will reduce costs.
  • Compare prices of different print and distribution companies. Get prices for different quantities and for repeat printing and distribution. If a company does both, ask if they give a discount for both. This may work out cheaper than going to two separate companies if the price breaks are different.
  • Compare the quality of each print company. A cheap print job may be cheap for a reason. Don’t jeopardize your brand recognition with a cheap looking flyer. It may cost you more in the long run.
  • Keep flyer designs as simple as possible. Make sure your web address is highly visible and direct readers to visit your website for more information. Ensure your website’s content is up-to-date!

If you reached the end of this article before you finished your coffee, congratulations. If you’re a business located in southern Ontario and you need to figure out a budget for your marketing material, contact Kaz Design Works for a quote.