Marketers today have more choice and more data to guide their marketing mix decisions – decisions for marketing materials that use a combination of both print and digital channels to gain maximum return on investment. The real benefit lies in knowing the audience and offering a choice in terms of how they like to receive their information.

At a time when digital communications are rampant, marketers and brands are making strategic decisions on how to best engage with guests. An email confirmation, digital advertising, a text message about room readiness, or sharing guest photos on social media all have their places in a comprehensive branding and customer acquisition strategy.

However, we are entering a time where brand enhancement may be reverting back to “traditional” methods – the worlds of digital and print marketing are overlapping.

At one time, emails were considered special and enchanting; now, we’ve made a shift where hand-written notes, snail mail, and printed information can be exciting. And there are innovative printing trends that further enhance this traditional reach-out method, even ones that can drive traffic to digital campaigns beyond a QR code or printed web address.

The time it takes to create tangible marketing materials don’t have to be overly time-consuming or complicated; there are steps to ensure seamless project preparedness and execution. In the beginning of the process, you will have to choose a paper or substrate for your project. While finding the right paper or substrate for each project can be a difficult and time consuming process, the path to finding the right paper or tree-free substrate can be broken down into four essential steps:

  1. Consider the design/look of the piece. This is a vital first step as it helps to visualize the end result of the printed piece. How the piece is designed and how it needs to work with other existing elements of your brand will help narrow down the literally hundreds of choices available.

  2. Functional Utility. What is the intended purpose of the piece? Will it be a one-time-use-only piece or will it be used repeatedly, such as a menu? Are you trying to bridge print with digital? Will you want an invisible, scannable mark that directs traffic to a website, app, or other digital communication?  How will your staff be using this piece? Will this item be used indoors/outdoors? What kind of elements will the piece be exposed to, such as moisture or direct sunlight? What kind of rigidity will be required for the piece? Is the paper selected fit for purpose? Checking off these questions early in the creative process can help ensure that the product performs exactly as you intended.

  3. Budget considerations. This is a vital element to consider in the paper selection process as the variance in cost across numerous paper choices can be vast. You will need to consider the estimated usage and durability of the piece and the impact that these factors have on driving cost. Discuss the choices with your internal stakeholders to gauge budget expectations and also your production partners to help identify any alternatives that result in significant cost savings without sacrificing the product’s functionality or perceived value.

  4. Collaborate with production partners. Early contact your printer can ensure a more successful outcome. They can provide swatch books, pricing considerations, paper availability, lead times, and advise the optimum production methods for your project.

We are all limited by what we know, and the paper market is a dynamic and changing marketplace. Don’t limit your creative process by only seeking help from one other source; collaborate and discover the unlimited opportunities that are available to enhance your brand and marketing materials through print.