Marketing Ideas: Printed Marketing Materials & Trends

Posted by Michele Nichols on Thu, Aug 22, 2013

The Changing Face of Print

An interview with JP Midgley, CEO of Avalon Document Services

For a while, many companies were charging full-speed ahead with blinders on away from print marketing. Now, however, they are realizing that the key is not abanding print completely, but instead being more strategic about how they use it. We recently spoke with JP Midgley, CEO of Avalon Document Services, on whom we rely for many of our own and our customers' printing projects. In the following Q&A, he discusses the changing trends in printed marketing materials: what types of print collateral companies are ordering  and what types they're not. We also offer our own comments and examples throughout (in the boxes, in green).


Where are you seeing companies spending money these days?

We have seen a big surge in substrate printing. At first you probably just think of signs when someone says substrate printing; however, the technology allows you to print on almost anything, and companies are starting to be creative with the capabilities. For example, this is the technology used for vehicle lettering and wraps. More than ever companies are turning their vehicles into moving marketing pieces. 

Sydor Optics recently turned its delivery van into a recruiting tool. The van’s wrap ad promotes the optics program at Monroe Community College, highlighting the opportunities that exist locally in the industry. While Sydor’s customers are all over the world, their workforce is here.

 Sydor van wrap ad MCC, print advertising

 Photo from RRPC blog

We have recently seen printing on flooring and even ceiling tiles. SGIA [Specialty Graphic Imaging Association] hosts a huge specialty graphics show in October that showcases where the technology is going, and the latest and greatest uses. Think cars, walls, ceilings, floors, flags and banners.

Believe it or not, we are seeing a resurgence in the hardcopy marketing newsletter. We can see the companies that make these pieces truly relevant versus those that are just going through the motions. I recently asked one of the business owners why they still do hard copy when everyone is going digital. His response made a lot of sense – there are still a lot of people out there that like a piece of interesting mail. They like to hold it, feel it and read it from paper rather than a computer screen. Also, when you get a digital newsletter (god knows we all get 20 a month), as a business owner and primary decision maker I can honestly say that I have literally never read one. I don’t have time to read a digital newsletter when I am while sitting at my computer plowing through emails. I delete it or mark it as read and move on to productive activities, forever losing that newsletter in the hundreds of emails I get daily. However, the hard copy newsletter, if relevant and interesting-looking, won’t make its way to the shred bin right away. It will get to my desk and I will see it over and over again. I might read it eventually, but even if I don’t, that company makes an impression on me every time I see that newsletter sitting there.

Edmund Optics and Sage Rutty both do a nice job with theirs – and people take notice.

newsletter examples

Anything cool and new that companies are trying?

Custom greeting cards and holiday cards – skip the store bought; no one reads those. A handwritten note on a truly unique Christmas card or thank you card is great and always gets a read. We have one client that does caricatures of themselves in a holiday scene, and they turn it into a card that we print every year. They then turn around and mail one to me even though I printed them, and I still open it and read it. 

If you can't take the time to sign your cards and add a note, stick to digital. We like to send ours at Thanksgiving, before the holiday flood.
holiday card collateral

What seems to have fallen out of favor?

The tri-fold brochure is dead. We still get a few of those jobs here and there, but it doesn’t get any more boring than that. The best companies get creative with what they send prospects. A cleverly packaged marketing package or a handwritten note does it. A tri-fold brochure gets thrown in the trash even faster than the business card that we rarely look at. Ten years ago, every company had a tri-fold brochure. Now only the companies that never made it out of the 90’s marketing strategy are still designing six panels of yawn.

You're preaching to the choir, JP! Tri-fold brochures are difficult to read, impossible to send digitally, dull and cheap. We do think many companies need a simple brochure, but we're liking flat, odd-sized pieces or simple bi-folds, instead.
 pls mini brochure  pls mini brochure

Front (left) and back of PLS's own brochure.

For more information on Avalon's printing services, visit

To learn more about how we can help your re-evaluate your marketing mix, contact us.

Topics: Marketing Mix, Business Insights, Change and Innovation, Marketing Strategy