Since the marketing world has moved online, a lot of people have become convinced that print marketing is no longer a viable way to attract customers. This may seem true on the surface, but by digging a little deeper, you’ll find out that print marketing is slowly making a resurgence.
One of the major reasons for its return is that millions of marketers are bombarding online browsers with ads. This has resulted in people ignoring wave after wave of ads, which almost seems like second nature to them. What’s worse is that customers have grown tired of the constant ad exposure, especially when it gets too intrusive.
How many times have you been frustrated by the inundation of YouTube commercials that can’t be skipped? When taken to the extreme, too many ads can do more harm than good.
On the flipside, print marketing is viewed as a more trustworthy way of attracting potential clients because of its effectiveness on Boomers and Millennials. In fact, data from MNI suggests that print marketing will serve as a significant marketing tool in the years to come. After all, the younger population believes that unplugging from the web is more beneficial for their physical and mental health than spending too much time online.
As such, it’s important that graphic designers be aware of the common mistakes to avoid when using this marketing strategy. Now that people are willing to embrace print marketing, it’s up to designers to create gripping print ads that could transform a lead into a sale.
Let’s take a closer look at the 10 print marketing blunders that beginner designers should steer clear of.
Skimping on Tools
One of the advantages of online marketing is that businesses don’t have to worry about screen-to-print design transitions. Sure, there are still factors that should be considered when publishing designs online, but print marketing campaigns are absolutely different.
Perhaps the most common mistake that beginners make is that they tend to skimp on their tools. According to experts, the lowest requirement for a design to look good on print is 180 pixels per inch (ppi), followed by better designs at 240 ppi and 300 ppi.
It also pays to consider the size of the print. With a 4×6 print ad, for instance, you can settle for a 720×1080 sized design, which can be delivered by a 0.75MP camera. But if you want the highest quality visuals, increase it to 1200×1800 by using a 2.2MP snapper. And that’s why beginners can’t afford to skimp on tools—they’re a big help in producing up-to-standard prints.
Falling Short of Minimalism
It may be tempting for beginners to fill entire prints with text or designs with different font styles and colors. But this is a common mistake.
Using too many fonts and shades can be distracting for your audience, resulting in your message being misinterpreted or ignored. To address this, don’t be afraid to use white space to your advantage.
Corporate juggernauts use this technique brilliantly. Just look at the logos of Facebook, Amazon, FedEx, and Twitter. All of them are simple, direct, and make use of white space to make their brand and message stand out.
Poor Use of Color
(Image source: https://www.canva.com/learn/brand-color-palette/)
Another common mistake of fledgling print designers is failing to familiarize themselves with colors. In marketing, each color serves a unique purpose and is used differently, depending on what strategy a company has in place.
Red creates a sense of urgency and is useful for driving up sales. Blue is associated with tranquility, which helps foster customer trust. Green stands for an environmental movement, while black represents authority.
For good measure, avoid using prime colors together since it could muddle your message. Instead, use different values of your chosen shade, which experts call the monochromatic technique.
Improper Use of Kerning
(Image source: https://www.canva.com/learn/kerning/)
Kerning describes the amount of space between two letters, numbers, or characters. For some fonts, the combination of two characters may appear illegible because it doesn’t sit right with the human eye.
Kerning helps adjust the space between these characters for a more pleasing effect, eliminating the discomfort caused by characters or letters that sit awkwardly next to each other. Since your print ad should communicate your message right from the get-go, it pays to smoothen out the wrinkles and use the right front.
Watch out for slanted letters like A or V, or those with cross strokes like T or F. Used incorrectly, they could look confusing or jarring. More importantly, make sure you only use kerning when necessary since it could disrupt your brand’s overall design.
Failing to Communicate Properly
Designers and business owners need to communicate the right message with their print ad. As a result, designers should take instructions from business owners to heart.
Vague instructions should be cleared up right away, no matter how inconsequential they may seem. There’s nothing worse than a print ad that comes out wrong since it could end up damaging a brand’s reputation. So it pays to open the line of communication to make sure designers are on the same page as the client every step of the way.
Failing to Spot Errors
From spelling mistakes to grammatical errors, print designers need to keep their eyes peeled for common blunders that could drastically backfire. Clients are unlikely to conduct business with you again if you commit even minor oversights, so be sure to double-check your work before submission.
If you have a friend who’s a writer, try asking them to proofread your work, especially if your print ad is heavy on content.
Ignoring a Client’s Vision
Always make sure that you stick to what your client wants instead of your creative vision that you think is the best design for their business. Remember: you are being paid to create what the customer has in mind, not to help them realize the vision you have for their brand. Refrain from altering their instructions and taking matters into your own hands.
Again, communication is key. Ask the client specifically about what the design should look like, as well as its intended message and impact.
Relying on Stock Images
Stock images have their place in print marketing, but it’s best to limit their use since they’re generic, vague, and unoriginal. On top of that, stock photos are commonly used in memes on social media, which could risk harming a brand’s reputation. Keep your images authentic and original for a greater impact.
Vaguely Worded Ads
Avoid using buzzwords and languages that the target audience may be unfamiliar with. Ambiguous terms or phrases could prove disastrous to a print marketing campaign because it’ll fail to send the right message to customers.
Always be specific with your intention. If the client is looking to drive sales by offering discounts, make sure you quantify how much people can save. Rather than settling for “we offer great discounts” say “enjoy 15% off on all our products!” And for even greater impact, don’t forget to use the right colors to make your ad stand out.
The Lack of a Call to Action
Failing to add a call to action to a print ad makes it difficult for audiences to follow through with a purchase. After all, getting their attention with a well-crafted ad is just half of the equation. Make sure you instruct the audience about what they should do next.
They’ll need a gentle nudge to get them moving in the right direction. In most cases, providing customers with value is a great place to start. Offering discounts, free trials, and coupons are just some of the ways you can entice profitable action.
Make it a point to create a sense of urgency to increase the effectiveness of your print ad. Tell them that the discount is a limited offer only, so audiences will feel like they’re missing out if they fail to act right away.
About the author
Stefanie Siclot is part of the SEO team at Growth Rocket a digital marketing agency based in Los Angeles. She is responsible for increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic which means fun for her.