How to Design Marketing Materials That Work

Updated: February 1, 2023
main blog post image of computer with design screen,

Creating business marketing materials can be a daunting task. After all, you want to make sure they are effective and will help you reach your business goals. But where do you start? And more importantly, how can you design marketing materials that works as effectively as possible?

In this article, I give you seven tips for creating effective marketing materials, also known as collateral or promotional pieces. I will explain the types of marketing items almost every business should have and discuss the most important ones. Plus, you’ll learn why it’s so important that all these marketing materials look good and generate results!

What are marketing materials and why do they matter?

Marketing materials are resources used to promote a company’s products, services, or brand. They can include print and digital media, such as brochures, flyers, websites, videos, and images. These materials help to build brand awareness by communicating your company’s message or purpose clearly to customers and potential prospects. Additionally, they serve as an excellent way to keep your existing customers informed of new offerings and promotions.

What types of marketing materials does a business need?

Every business may have different marketing needs, but there are some common materials considered essential for most businesses:

Business cards

Business cards are a physical representation of your business that can be handed out for networking purposes. They typically have your company name, your name, and title, and your contact information.

Memorable or unique business cards can be beneficial because they tend not to be quickly tossed aside, so you should consider stepping outside the box with your business cards.

Looking for inspiration to create a compelling business card? These examples can get your creativity flowing!

multiple business card ideas

How to create your business card

If you plan to design your business card yourself, Canva is a great place to start. They have free and paid plans but at only $13/month you may as well spring for the Pro plan to get all the best features and benefits.

If you have no idea how to build your own card or just want to outsource the work to a freelancer, try crowdsourcing sites such as 99 Designs. You could also check out how an AI-powered graphic design tool might help you to design printed marketing materials.

Business Logo

Your business logo is a graphic representation of your company’s identity which is used to create an instant connection with consumers. It can be seen on websites, packaging, and sales materials; anything that represents your company.

A good logo should capture the essence of a brand and be memorable and recognizable so that it leaves a lasting impression on customers. It helps people remember the company, making them more likely to do business with them in the future.

Keep these things in mind when creating your business logo:

  • Make it memorable: Your logo should be easy to recognize and stand out amongst other logos.
  • Keep it simple: Aim for minimalism and make sure your design is readable and clear.
  • Incorporate your brand colors: Pick colors that represent your brand’s identity and use them consistently across all of your materials.
  • Choose an appropriate font: The font you choose should be legible and also reflect the overall personality of your brand.
  • Be mindful of color: when deciding the best color for your logo understand the psychological impact, and other considerations of color.
  • Ensure it looks good at any size: Your logo will likely appear in a variety of sizes ranging from small business cards to large billboards, so make sure it looks good no matter what size it is viewed at.
individual logos

A well-designed logo will be memorable and make a good impression on customers and clients. Poorly designed logos can leave a negative impression and make it difficult to trust the quality of your business. So take your logo design seriously, using thought and strategy to create one, or have one created for you, that accurately reflects your company. Investing in a logo is always money well spent!

How to create your logo

There are indeed many great tools available these days to help you design your business logo. Adobe Illustrator is exceptional, or you could try your hand at an AI-powered design tool such as DesignsAI.

However, this is one area where you don’t want to cut corners. A well-crafted logo can help your brand stand out, both on and offline, while a poorly designed one may turn potential customers away.

Investing in a well-designed logo can be an invaluable part of your overall marketing strategy as it shapes a customer’s first impression of your business and reinforces your brand identity moving forward. There’s no second chance to give off a positive first impression, plus failure to do so will likely cost you more in the long run.

Brochure or leaflet

Brochures and printed sales pieces can play a crucial role in promoting a business and its products/services.

Businesses in industries such as real estate, tourism, and event planning benefit from having a tangible, visually appealing piece to showcase their offerings. A brochure allows these businesses to provide detailed information, convey a professional image and leave a lasting impression with potential customers.

On the other hand, businesses primarily operating online or with a B2B model may not find brochures as necessary as their target audience may be more interested in digital materials or direct communication.

How to create a brochure

A business owner who wants to create a brochure has several options. One option is to create the brochure themselves using software such as Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign. These programs allow the user to add text, images, and graphics to create a professional-looking document.

Another option is to use an online brochure maker such as Canva or Piktochart. These tools provide pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop functionality, making it easy for someone with little to no design experience to create a brochure.

If you’re writing your brochure marketing copy and need assistance, consider using an AI marketing tool for content creation. An AI writing assistant can help with writer’s block and ensure that your grammar and phrasing are accurate and compelling.

However, hiring a professional graphic designer or marketing agency may be the easier alternative and result in a higher-quality brochure. This option can also allow you to focus on running your business while a professional takes care of the design and printing of the brochure. Additionally, a professional designer can ensure that the brochure is consistent with your brand, effectively communicates your message, and is printed professionally.

An optimized Website

In this digital marketing age, having a website for your business is not only important but necessary for success. A website provides a hub for customers and potential customers to learn about the company, find out more about the products or services being offered, and contact customer service.

Furthermore, having a modern website with a professional design that matches the look of your brand materials such as stationery, brochures, and advertisements helps create a strong and consistent brand image across all platforms.

full branding setup

These materials help establish the business’s identity, provide information to potential customers, and reach a wider audience through different channels.

In the same vein as your website, remember your business social media plays a large part in your marketing “materials” as well. Be sure your social media banners and other page icons match your company brand.

How to build your website

As a business owner, there are a few options available for creating a website. If you have technical skills, you could try building the site yourself using platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress. It is important to choose the right platform that fits your business needs and provides the features you want for your site.

However, building a website from scratch can be time-consuming and challenging, especially if you lack technical expertise. In this case, it might be easier to hire a professional web designer or web development company that can take care of all aspects of the website creation process and ensure that it is optimized for search engines and user experience. Hiring someone also gives you the advantage of having someone to maintain and update the site regularly, so you can focus on running your business.

How to create marketing materials that work

1. Keep it simple

Whatever you are using to sell your products or services, they should be easy to understand and use. You don’t want to include too much text or complex graphics.

template-style flyer

When you’re marketing your business, it’s important to remember that less is often more. Your materials should be easy for potential customers to understand and use, without being overloaded with text or complex graphics.

Instead of trying to include everything, focus on creating materials that are clean, clear, and concise. This will help ensure that your message comes across loud and clear and that potential customers don’t get overwhelmed or turned off by too much information. Keep your materials focused and to the point, and you’ll be more likely to make a lasting impression.

2. Stay on Brand

Use the same fonts, colors, and design elements when designing business marketing materials.

blue and peach branding

It’s important to create a consistent look for professional marketing materials. Using the same fonts, colors, and design elements is the cornerstone of your business branding and will help to create a cohesive online brand identity that will be recognized by your customers.

It’s also important to choose fonts and colors that are legible and easy to read. If a prospect has to spend time trying to decipher your font, you will likely lose them. You want your customers to be able to quickly scan your marketing collateral and understand the key points.

Font fails:

my favorite color is glitter, looks like Hitler
Hitler? Hitter? That “G” is doing this business no favors.
unfortunate font choice on tarts
Wait, what? At first glance, that’s a “no, thank you”, for me!

In addition to choosing the right font, it’s also important to notice how the spacing, also known as kerning, is affecting the legibility of your wording.

Kids exchange pic
A bit more spacing between the “S” and the “E” makes all the difference!

3. Make it look professional

Be sure to use high-quality images and graphics when designing professional marketing materials. Make sure everything is professionally laid out, properly aligned, and formatted correctly.

computer with words, "high quality content"

To create marketing material designs that stand out as professional and competent, it is important to use high-quality images and graphics. This will help to grab attention and convey the message in a more visually appealing manner.

Of course, it’s also important to make sure that everything is properly aligned and formatted. This can be the difference between a professional-looking document and one that looks sloppy and amateurish.

By taking the time to ensure that all of the elements are of the highest quality, you can create custom marketing materials that are more likely to get noticed—and that’s always the first step in making a sale!

Remember, too, your main marketing tool is your website. A well-designed website is important for two reasons. First, it helps you to convey your message clearly. Second, it makes a good impression on visitors to your website and builds trust and authority.

Use clear fonts and simple layouts to ensure that your text is easy to read. And make sure that your links are easy to find so that people can quickly access the information they need.

4. Target your audience

Make sure your items are designed for the people you’re trying to reach.

target your audience

Any good marketing campaign starts with a target audience in mind. Who are you trying to reach? What are their needs and desires? What kind of language do they respond to? Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, you can start to develop effective marketing materials that are designed to appeal to them.

For example, if you’re trying to reach a younger demographic, you might use more modern design elements and language that is relatable to them. Alternatively, if you’re targeting a more mature audience, you might focus on tradition and quality.

For example, consider the brochures below. Can you see how they were designed with a specific audience in mind? Bright colors and kid-friendly fonts for the school brochure; bold red and sharp angles for the fitness brochure; and a business blue, clean approach for the shipping one.

brochure for kids service
fitness brochure
corporate brochure

No matter who your target audience is, make sure you’re designing marketing materials that speak to them through the use of color, font, layout, and style.

5. Tell a story

You can use both your print marketing and web marketing resources to tell the story of your business and its products or services.

what's your story image

You have the opportunity to tell your business story when you design marketing materials for your business. When done effectively, this can help to create a strong connection with potential customers. After all, people are more likely to buy from businesses that they feel they know and trust.

Examples and ideas

There are several ways businesses can tell their story through their marketing materials. Here are some ideas to consider for your own business story:

  1. Use images and storytelling to illustrate the journey your product or service takes from conception to delivery. 
  2. Tell the story of your company’s inception.
  3. Share your mission and philosophy.
  4. Highlight customer achievements or milestones they have achieved with your product/service.
  5. Offer interactive content such as quizzes or games that educate and engage with your audience.
  6. Showcase company culture and values through employee profiles or features.

When you use marketing material to tell the story of your business, you can create a more personal connection with potential customers and make your marketing more effective.

6. Be creative

Think outside the box when it comes to your marketing materials.

In today’s competitive business landscape, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is to “think outside the box” when it comes to marketing materials. This means being creative and innovative in order to grab attention and communicate your message more effectively.

colorful, creative pic

For example, instead of using traditional print ads, a business owner could create an interactive online campaign that allows customers to engage with the brand on a deeper level.

Or, instead of using plain packaging, they could design eye-catching packaging that helps their product stand out on shelves.

By thinking outside the box, businesses can design marketing materials that are more effective and ultimately lead to increased sales.

7. Proof and Reproof

Proofreading and reproofing marketing materials, including printed materials and websites, is crucial to ensure the accuracy and professionalism of a business’s image. Neglecting to proof can result in embarrassing typos, grammatical errors, and broken links which can damage the credibility of the business and detract from the intended message.

For example, a fellow entrepreneur I know once printed a batch of business cards with a typo in their email address. Despite their impressive qualifications and strong reputation, this simple mistake left a lasting negative impression on potential clients. Not only did it create confusion and frustration for those trying to contact them, but it also reflected poorly on their attention to detail and professionalism.

people proofing materials

It is important to ensure your final product accurately represents your business’s values, standards, and professionalism. Not taking the time to thoroughly proof and reproof all marketing materials can save you from potential embarrassment and costly mistakes!

Final thoughts

Marketing materials will play a crucial role in helping you to promote your business and its products, services, and brand. A well-designed business card, logo, brochure, and website can help to establish your business’s identity, provide information to potential customers, and reach a wider audience.

And remember: keep marketing materials simple, professional, and consistent with the brand image. By following these tips, you can create effective marketing materials that will help you reach your business goals and build brand awareness you can be proud of!

Frequently asked questions

Yes, even in the digital age, business cards remain an important tool for networking and promoting your business. They provide a tangible way for others to remember and contact you, and they can help establish your business as professional and credible.

There are many options for printing business materials, including local print shops, online print services, and large chain office supply stores. Consider your budget, timeline, and the specific needs of your materials when selecting a printer. It is also important to review samples of the printer’s work and ask for recommendations from other business owners to ensure you select a high-quality printer that meets your needs

Royalty-free images can be found on multiple stock photo websites, such as Unsplash, Pexels, and Shutterstock. Many of these sites also offer other media such as videos and audio files.

Yes, there are several options for creating a quality logo without breaking the bank. One option is to work with a freelance graphic designer, who may charge less than a large design firm. Another option is to use a logo design platform, where you can select from pre-made designs and customize them to your needs. These platforms can provide a cost-effective way to create a professional-looking logo.

While social media is a valuable tool for marketing, it is not the only way to build brand recognition. A balanced marketing strategy that includes both digital and physical materials can help reinforce your brand and reach a wider audience. The downside of relying solely on social media is that it can be challenging to stand out in a crowded space and the algorithms can limit your reach.

Adobe Creative Cloud is widely regarded as the best design software for serious graphic designers. It offers powerful tools and features, including advanced photo editing capabilities, vector graphic design, 3D rendering, and animation. Additionally, Adobe Creative Cloud allows you to access your work from anywhere on any device, making it a great choice for professionals who are always on the go.

Canva is another graphic design program, although less robust. That being said, it’s terrific for promotional efforts such as building social media content and other non-print media.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a paid plan. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind.

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