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Whether you’re developing a newsletter, brochure, flyer, poster or corporate image materials such as letterhead, envelopes and business cards, it’s important to maintain high standards of design and layout. A poorly designed promotional piece is next to worthless. Not only that, but as we noted earlier it tells the recipient that your company lacks professionalism and quality.

The importance of consistency in your marketing materials cannot be overemphasized. We live in a message-mad milieu where the eye and the mind are both restless. We are so deluged by visual stimuli that we are overwhelmed by the quantity and awestruck by the quality, or lack thereof. This means you must rely on every tool and technique at your command to keep materials from ending up in the wastebasket – unnoticed and unread. You must learn to think visually and verbally.

Following are some tips to help you in your quest for attractive and effective print materials for your business or organization:

* Pick a general look for all your materials. If your letterhead is on cream stock, then your business card and envelopes should match or complement. Consider using recycled stock if you want to have an image as a forward-looking, environmentally conscious businessperson.

* Stick with standard sizes. 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper for letterhead, brochures, invoices, statements; 11″ x 17″ paper folded in half for newsletters, 2″ x 3 1/2″ business cards. Work with your printer or designer to develop a family look in your pieces, including using your logo consistently on all pieces.

* Speaking of printers… get bids from at least three printers for all large projects. Also, buy at the quantity break for standard paper supplies. You may find that 1,000 brochures costs half as much per piece as 500.

* Be aware of postal regulations when printing promotional materials.

* Use paper that has a good contrast from the ink you’re planning to use. This isn’t much of a problem with black ink, but could become an issue if you’re creating materials on a color inkjet.

* If you’re printing paper out on a printer, make sure the paper is compatible with the type of printer you have.

* Don’t create letterhead on copy paper. It’s too thin. Use a good inkjet paper from a reputable manufacturer. Choose a stock with good opacity, particularly if your printed materials consist of photographs, large and bold heads and other dark masses of inks. Better yet, let a professional printer reproduce your materials on a press. It looks so much better. In many cases printing in quantity is cheaper than the cost of inkjet cartridges.