Your service is great and your prices are low, but
in this information-deluged society, your brochure still might end up on the junk mail heap. Make sure that doesn’t happen by putting your message on the right paper.
The Ends Justify the Means
The type of printer that you ultimately use dictates the kind of paper you’ll be printing on.
To compensate for the high temperatures reached during the printing process, lasers require special paper, one with an extremely smooth surface that accepts toner well to produce sharp output. Most paper manufacturers–including such well-known names as Hammermill, Laseredge, and Weyerhaeuser–sell smooth, sturdy white paper for laser printers. Mail-order companies like PaperDirect, queblo, Paper Access, Idea Art, and BeaverPrints specialize in laser stock in multiple colors, distinctive textures, and preprinted designs such as marbelized latterhead or pink rice backgrounds. These designs are typically available on a range of formats, from stationery and trifold brochures to envelopes.
Most speciality paper is photocopier safe and, for large runs, accepatable for professional offset printing. For camera-ready mechanicals (layouts you’ve prepared in ready-to-print from for a quick-print shop to photograph and reproduce), look for bright-white laer paper that prevents wax or adhesive from seeing through when you’re pasting onto a mechanical board. Two good choices are Hammermill’s economical Laser Plus, $13.50 for a box of 500 letter-size sheets from PaperDirect, and Laseredge 65, $33 from Queblo for 250 sheets.
Ink-jet printers require paper that minimizes ink spread and maximizes color saturation. Many of the brand-name campanies offer such special white paper, and even some reprinted or colored laser stock will work in ink jets. Make sure you check paper stock for an indication, such as a logo, stating that it is suitable for ink-jet printing. PaperDirect, Queblo, and Micro Format also offer coated brightwhite paper designed for color ink-jet printer output.
Projecting Your Image
Because paper manufactures create lines of paper in many colors and textures, different weights, or with professionally created designs and borders, you can choose a color and style that reflects your business’s identity and maintains a consistent look across any materials you produce.
“Since I don’t have a color printer, the predesigned sets allow me to include colors in my brochure,” says Bryan Kisiel, a Pennsylvania CPA who develops his own marketing materials. “I look for a set that will mesh the design ideas I have. It’s more appealing than one color with black lettering, and I don’t have to pay an arm and a let to have something designed for me.”
David Gallup of Gallup Communications, a proposal development consultancy in Fort Collins, Colorado, uses predesigned sets–letterhead and business cards–because he thinks they “make for a nice, cohesive marketing package.”
Bright, splashy colors and abstract designs strike a less formal note that pinstripe blues or grays and muted tones. For instance, Robbin Juris, a principal of New York City’s Quaternion Group consulting firm, chose a textured gray paper for its brochure to project an “elegant and businesslike” image.
When you want to be eco-conscious, try recycled paper. It may prove good for business, too. Kisiel is considering recycled paper in part because he thinks it will draw a positive response.
Most paper manufacturers offer recycled coated and uncoated papers in many impressive finishes. You may pay a slight premium for recycled paper–for example, Msterpiece’s recycled 24-pound Laser-Sharp DTP white paper is $10 for one 500-sheet box through PaperDirect; that’s the same price the company charges for Hammermill’s hefty and bright 24-pound Laser Print paper and $6 more than it asks for a box of its economical Weyerhaeuser First Choice paper. On the plus side, recycled paper with fiber, fur, and flecks in it is a thing of the past. Recycled paper is now also conditioned to stand up to the high heat of laser printers without damaging them.
Not all materials area available in recycled papers. Also make sure when mixing recycled and unrecycled papter that all the materials blend attractively.
Paper With a Purpose
When it comes to the mateials your business uses, one paper type and weight doesn’t fit all.
Corporate letterhead and stationery. You could choose a sulphite bond–the standard wood-pulp paper–for letterhead and stationery, but a 24-pound or better 100 percent cotton-bond paper with matching envelopes feels richer, conveys a prestigious image, and stands up better over time. Typically, you’ll pay about $6 per 100 sheets for 100 percent cotton-bond paper.
Hal Paluk, precent of the Los Angeles–based Pawluk Group, an advertising and marketing consulting firm, has chosen a 24-pound classic laid finish for the cover letter that accompanies his promotional materials. Laid papers–which generally have a ribbed look–give the feel of having been produced in small quantities, and that conveys a sense of exclusively.
For the same reason, you may want to consider watermarked or shadowmarked papers. These markes are visible when the paper is held up to the light. Watermarks appear raised, like an outline, whereas shadowmarks appear slightly recessed and darker.
The best power for brochures is good over or opaque stock in the 60-pound and higher category. After all, you want your brochure to be able to withstand numerous handlings.
But if you’re planning to run the brochure through a laser printer, ink-jet printer, or photocopier, verify that the device can handle the paper thickness; any weight above 24 or 28 pounds may pose difficulties. (Almost all the brochures from the specialty paper vendors we mention are laser-printer compatible, costing $20 to $30 per 100-sheet box of two-sided predesigned trifild brochures.)
Bret Terwilleger of Olden & Associates, a marketing and advertising design firm in Memphis, stresses that color improves response rates for direct mailings. Pawluk is working with a copy center to produce his company’s brochure, in which one side is four color and the other is black and white. “I’ll paste in the color ad and have the copy center do both sides on 32-pound ledger stock I found in an art supply house,” he says.
Those who want the four-color look with less hassle may want to check out BeaverPrints’s brochures, which come preprinted with color stock photography, featuring all-purpose images such as “woman on phone.” A box of 100 brochures is $23.
When selecting a design, you may need to opt for a more austere look to accommodate a full description of your services without making the brochure look cluttered.
Reports and proposals.
Terwilleger points out that you should use uncoated paper for text-laden documents. Uncoated papers, which reduce glare, are an optimum choice for good readibility. Light, solid-colored pages provide the best contrast with dark text and the easier reading for lengthy publications. Speckled or fibered papers aren’t a good choice for annual reports or other documents that contain important financial information in the text-a speck could easily be mistaken for a decimal.
A cover can make or break a proposal. Using vellum (see-through) overlays, clear plastic covers, and coordinating-color binders or folders creates a more attractive package. You should choose an 80-pound cover stock–lighter, if you’re printing directly on a standard laser on ink-jet printer–for the finishing touch.
Business cards and notecards.
Sturdy 70- or 80-pound or heavier cover stock creates the best impression. Do-it-yourself laser-printed cards from the direct-mail houses are convenient and economical (around $20 for a 50-sheet box), though at about 24 to 38 pounds they’re fairly lightweight. You’ll get the best effect if the color and design matches your other materials.
Newsletter. Newsletter producers should be concerned about the weight of the paper: Consider the mailings costs. Use a medium-weight paper–say, 60 pounds, if your materials will be offset printed.
You can find preprinted newsletter templates in a variety of muted colors and professional styles from companies like Queblo. Otherwise, stick with solid or slightly flecked papers to maximize readability and minimize visual competition with graphics.
Proceeds With Caution
Using stock from direct-mail houses is easy, but it’s not necessarily the best choice. For example, Juris opted to have business cards printed commercially. “We just weren’t happy with the rough edges left by the performations” of the PaperDirect stock, she says.
Margaret Eves, of Wellhouse Research in Georgia, is working with a graphic artist to develop her own logo and design. “I send out 15 to 20 brochures a week to market any business. If I have to buy PaperDirect stock for my brochure, it adds up.” Another worry is that other people may be competing for attention using the same predesigned paper you’ve chosen. Eves wants a distinctive look, and “PaperDirect can’t guarantee that.”
Juris echoes the overriding sentiment: “If you can produce a professional-looking document, the impression you give is that you’re a big company with lots of resources.” With a little thought, you can make sure your business materials are worth more than the paper they’re printed on.