Tips on Printing and Selling Folders and Brochures
If you came up to me and asked, “Brendan, I’m a print and promotional product distributor, and I’m looking to know more about the folders and brochures category of the industry. Can you give me some information about the benefits, applications and new developments in that sector?” I would look at you and say, “Why, sure, I can. Here’s a folder full of information, and here’s a brochure that describes the latest designs and capabilities from around the industry.”
Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m demonstrating that, as far as delivering information in a neat, organized and professional fashion, there’s nothing better than a quality folder or a descriptive brochure. But, even though these are items that have been around for a long time, that doesn’t mean their story ends here. New printing capabilities, color trends and usable materials are always on the horizon. So, as a professional in the print world, it’s your duty to pay attention to these changes.
Print+Promo enlisted a few experts to help you with your studies. Read on for advice from Vladimir Gendelman, CEO of Company Folders Inc., Pontiac, Mich.; Mark Jacoby, director of marketing for Navitor, North Mankato, Minn.; Mardra Sikora, CEO of Pocket Folders Fast, Omaha, Neb.; and Joel and Aaron Tardie, marketing director and product manager, respectively, for Presentation Folder Inc., Orange, Calif.
Following the Trends
The evolution of printing capabilities is shaping the next wave of folder and brochure products. For Aaron Tardie, the biggest trend in recent years is the ability to print raised UV and digital foil.
“Raised UV and digital foil are new, exciting and provide a cost-efficient and unique aesthetic to presentation folders, brochures, business cards, invitations and much more,” he enthused. “This technology allows printers to differentiate themselves from competitors by offering prospective clients premium off-line coatings that enhance traditional print designs and allow for complete customization.”
Tardie went on to say that traditional foil stamping was expensive and difficult for many printers, but having the ability to use digital foil offsets much of the cost and minimizes set-up times.
Gendelman listed soft-touch coating as another differentiator.
“These coatings provide unique ways for businesses to stand out by adding a refined level of sophistication, instead of looking busy,” he noted.
He also said that, in his personal experience, it’s not all about finding the flashiest design. It’s quite the opposite, actually. If you can improve on the classic design elements with new printing methods, you take something that is familiar and fully functional, and add a bit of panache or elegance.
Smaller Can Be Better
Trends aren’t limited to the style of folders or brochures. You, as a salesperson, must be cognizant of buyer habits and preferences. For example, Sikora has recently seen high demand for short-run folders, with quantities ranging anywhere from 50 to 500 folders per order.
“There are several reasons for this demand, most notably the quality improvements in inkjet digital printing,” she explained. “However, what’s new on this front is the growing requests for high-end, short-run projects. Whether it’s a small business trying to compete, or a large marketing department working on a special project, we’re seeing high-end finishing requests, like dimensional UV, conventional or polyfoil, custom die-cutting and lamination options utilized on these short—even very short—projects.”
She said that one of her favorite orders she’s done recently was an order for only 25 folders as part of a three-day turnaround to Dubai.
“Some people shy away from doing a short run because [they think], ‘What’s the value to you, the salesperson?’” she added. “Balancing your time is an important part of your business. I just ask distributors to remember that when you send a person away to order their 50 folders online, they very possibly just found their next resource for all their other promotional needs, too. Next thing you know, you have way more time than you wanted.”
It’s something Joel Tardie has noticed at his own company, too.
“As a manufacturer, we’re seeing a higher number of orders, but a lower average quantity is definitely balancing that out,” he said. “We’re becoming more efficient in less time with more options, but it’s exciting to see what we’re able to offer people on a normal basis now.”
Let’s Get Digital
While “pivot to video” became a mantra in the media and communications world for a while, it’s not something that’s been on the top of print professionals’ minds. But the only limit in marketing is your own imagination, and Gendelman said that video can work for folders and brochures if you know how to do it.
“The latest development that excites me is video folders, because the more people use digital marketing, the more they rely on print marketing, too,” he said. “This allows companies to merge the two, and allows recipients to interact with the brand more. For example, real estate companies could use these screens on the cover of the folders or inside to provide virtual home tours, while including additional information, such as blueprints, tax documents and other community information on the other panel or inside the pockets.”
Something for Everyone
The best thing about this particular product category is the ubiquity. Folders and brochures are necessary in schools (from kindergarten to Ph.D. programs), hospitals, businesses and more.
“In terms of brochures, they have such a wide appeal that it really does depend on the style of the brochure,” Jacoby said. This is where it’s important for distributors to fully understand their customers’ needs and provide a product that not only looks nice, but does its job.
“Trifold brochures are a classic for travel and hospitality businesses, but they are used in so many industries that it really is hard to limit their appeal to a single end-buyer,” Jacoby added. “The simplicity of half-fold brochures is a great fit for manufacturing facilities in need of instruction sheets or other informative pieces to accompany their products. Engineer folds are popular for architecture firms. We also particularly recommend four-panel brochures for industries like health care or higher education where more information might be needed, but where consumers want to have a folded brochure that is the same size as the traditional tri-fold.”
Sikora said that, for her business, she sees the most orders from companies in the financial, insurance, real estate and tech industries, though it’s hardly limited to those.
“I honestly can’t think of a single vertical market that doesn’t utilize pocket folders,” she said. “So, my advice is to start with what you know. The hair salon next door to your office uses a small 4x9" pocket folder with inserts of their spa and style services. The security services business on your other side provides high-tech business-to-business options that require in-depth quotes; their pocket folder is used for both marketing and contracts. Your church has a welcome folder. Your accountant utilizes a special expandable portfolio. Your brother’s landscaping company provides layouts and estimates in a tab folder. And on and on.”