Don't Overlook Print When Mapping Out Your Startup Marketing Plan

An exclusively online marketing strategy can't give potential customers something to hold onto.

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By Katherine Halek

Alejandro Escamilla |

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No launch will get very far if its founders don't build strong awareness. You could survive by using only digital channels, but you would be limiting yourself and your potential success if you don't incorporate print marketing into your strategy. Here's why.

Print helps you publicize your startup.

Those most likely to find you online under-represent your true potential in two ways. First, they already belong to a specific niche market. While it's good to market directly to your target demographic, you risk becoming insular or overwhelmed by larger competition if you don't strategically expand your reach. Second, they only saw you because they were in the right place at the right time. There are so many ads and promotions being churned out every minute that you, a small fish in a big ocean, can easily get lost in the shuffle.

Print, unlike the swirling tides of electronic promotion, gives potential customers something to hold on to. That's crucial for the brand image you want to build. Marketing blogger Mike Michalowicz has more than enough ideas to help you integrate online promotion into print. When people say print is on the way out, don't believe them! There are so many beautiful and useful branded items you can create (business cards and custom decals, just to name two) to boost awareness for your business.

Related: 5 Ways to Market Your Startup on a Dime

Print does cost money — something not every startup has in abundance. Don't let cost confine you. Here are some ideas to launch a print campaign without breaking the bank:

  • Determine what you can afford and stick to it.
  • Explain to interested investors why print strategy will increase audience reach, and why budgeting it matters.
  • Ask print companies if they would invest in your startup by giving you a free print run of one product. In return, offer to promote them as your supplier.

Print alone won't raise you from obscurity to the top of the market, but it provides needed diversity in a diverse business landscape.

Print helps you retain customers and build word of mouth.

You've undoubtedly come across data on the value of customer retention, so stand out with long-lasting advertising. Printed items are permanent, unlike an ephemeral tweet or deletable email.

You'll do best if you harness the power of both worlds — social and print media. This will only work if you decide now what you want your brand voice and image to be because you retain the most customers when you appear consistent across all forums. Print promotion also gives you other avenues to explore:

  • Branded goodies featuring your name, slogan and contact information can influence brand cohesion.
  • Brochures, flyers and personalized yard signs placed in cooperating locations help reiteration.
  • The wrong kind of print can sabotage your message. Plastering public spaces with flyers, or spamming neighborhoods with door hangers, are no-nos.

When your brand image is uniform everywhere it appears, you won't have to worry about people seeing you online and wondering if you're the same business.

Related: 3 Reasons Startup Marketing Stalls

Print helps you establish credibility.

As a startup owner, you may feel you have a lot to prove in your community. The failure rate of startups can make you wish for an inside track. Building credibility is essential for your chances of surviving, and print can do that too.

Marketing walks a fine line between incorporating tried-and-true presentation and finding unprecedented attention-capturing strategies. Fortunately, you can do both without spending a fortune. Use print ads to promote things like a holiday pop-up shop, a charity function or a sporting event where a team you sponsor is playing. Other clever promotional ideas involve making your ads a part of daily commutes through bumper stickers or bus stop ads, whose view rates are high.

Print still piques people's interest in a way that nonstop click bait and homogeneous online ads can't. Additionally, it makes you look more legitimate. Having nothing on hand to give someone when they ask for more information looks really bad.

Related: 9 Must-Read Marketing Ebooks for Every Startup Founder

Katherine Halek

Content Strategist

 Katherine Halek is the Content Strategist at, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about retail, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Connect with her on Google+.

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