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Any type of printed marketing you hand out, leave behind, or share with your audience is considered print collateral. Use our Print Collateral Guide to better understand common printed pieces: business cards, flyers, mailers, rack cards, brochures, booklets, posters, and banners.

Business card

Purpose: introduction and contact information
Typical dimensions: 2” x 3.5”
Typical printing cost: 6¢ – 30¢ each

When to use a business card:

Business cards have existed as print collateral since at least the 17th Century. Today, they’re used a means of introduction and verification. Even in a digital age, business cards are kept and collected. Their low cost makes it easy to hand them out freely and their size is designed to fit nicely in a wallet, card keeper, or Rolodex. Your business card design should make a first impression appropriate to your business and brand.

When NOT to use a business card:

Since business cards are printed by the hundreds or thousands, you should only include information that’s relevant for at least a year. This isn’t the time to mention a promotion or time-bound event. Also, think about who in your organization really needs a business card. Save money by skipping seasonal employees.

Keep in mind:

While trendy shapes and sizes are eye-catching, they don’t fit well in wallets or card collectors. Our advice: let the card design pop but keep the size standard. Grab attention with a heavier stock (thicker paper) or a coating that will encourage folks to hold onto your card.

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Purpose: notification and promotion
Typical dimensions: 5.5” x 8.5” to 8.5” x 11” (half- to full-sheet)
Typical printing cost: 40¢ – $1 each

When to use a flyer:

Flyers are a small form of print collateral typically printed on light-weight stock. They’re often distributed by hand and through influencers. Flyers are best for communicating a simple message that is absorbed quickly. Sale! Free! Act now! Use a flyer to announce an event, temporary deal, or short-term offering.

When NOT to use a flyer:

Flyer designs can be one- or two-sided but shouldn’t contain a lot of copy. This isn’t the right piece for sharing detailed information or telling a story. Don’t choose a flyer if it’s critical for your audience to receive more information or if there are several steps in your call-to-action.

Keep in mind:

Your flyer is going to be thrown away shortly after it’s received. Accept this fact and plan your message and budget around it. If you need people to keep the physical printed piece, you should choose a different type of print collateral.

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Purpose: notification and promotion
Typical dimensions: 4” x 6” (postcard) to 6” x 9”
Typical printing cost: 40¢ – $1.50 each

When to use a mailer:

A mailer is similar to a flyer but, instead of being distributed by hand, it’s sent through the mail. Mailers are great for targeting a specific audience by geography or demographics. You don’t have to be located anywhere near your distribution area. Mailers can also be timed to arrive at the best possible moment, like a week before an election or a few days before a sale.

When NOT to use a mailer:

A mailer won’t create a personal connection so the messaging should be tailored to a cold lead scenario. While technically you can customize the copy for each recipient, doing so will significantly add to your costs. Like flyers, mailers aren’t good for sharing dense or detailed information.

Keep in mind:

Unlike other types of print collateral, mailers need to be UV-coated to hold up in the post system. When budgeting, you’ll need to consider the costs of postage and creating or acquiring a mailing list. Chances are your mailer will be thrown away within minutes. So keep messaging short and to the point.

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Rack card

Purpose: persuasion or information
Typical dimensions: 4” x 9”
Typical printing cost: 50¢ – 60¢ each

When to use a rack card:

A rack card is basically one section of a brochure, enough to create a professional impression. They fit in brochure racks (hence the name) but only have a front and back panel with no folding. They’re a cost-effective choice when you don’t have too much content to communicate. They’re often used at events or to share specific info about your organization.

When NOT to use a rack card:

Given the limited space, rack cards aren’t a good choice for long, detailed information. Ask yourself, What does the audience need to know in order to take the next step? Anything beyond that isn’t necessary.

Keep in mind:

Rack cards are printed on heavier stock than flyers and most brochures. This keeps them from flopping over in a rack. Plus, people perceive thicker paper as more valuable and are less likely to throw it away than other types of print collateral.

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Purpose: persuasion or information
Typical dimensions (unfolded): 8.5” x 11” or 9” x 12” or 8.5” x 14”
Typical printing cost: 80¢ – $1.40 each

When to use a brochure:

Brochures are a folded form of print collateral that are larger than rack cards and flyers. Brochures range from four to eight panels, so you can share more content and give a more complete picture of your business. The folding allows for a level of physical engagement and interaction with the piece that creates a stronger connection in the reader’s brain.

When NOT to use a brochure:

Because they have a higher unit cost, brochures may be too expensive to use for short-term promotions like a sale or seasonal offering. While they do have more room for content than some print collateral, brochure designs should be focused on a single call to action.

Keep in mind:

Brochure prices are based on stock, size, and folds. Printers generally refer to the size by the dimensions of the unfolded sheet of paper. Larger sheets will result in taller brochures or more panels and will cost more. Brochures can be printed on “book” or “text” stock, like paper in a magazine, since the folding makes them sturdy enough to stand up in a rack. The number of folds, not the folding style, will factor into the price.

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Purpose: persuasion or information
Typical dimensions (folded): 5.5” x 8.5” or 6” x 9” or 8.5” x 11”
Typical printing cost: varies

When to use a booklet:

At last, the booklet is the appropriate print collateral for long, detailed information. Unlike brochures, booklets are consumed in a linear fashion, from front to back, so messaging can be more narrative. Booklets are typical as event programs, reports, catalogs, and short publications.

When NOT to use a booklet:

Due to their cost and length, booklets shouldn’t be given unsolicited. Save booklets for those who ask for more information, attend an event, or seek out your business. If you don’t think your audience is going to read a booklet, don’t spend the money designing and printing them.

Keep in mind:

Booklet prices depend of the number of pages, which come in multiples of four. Booklets are bound in different ways depending on length starting with stapling for short booklets. Mid-size booklets can be saddle stitched and very long ones can be perfect bound like a magazine.

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Purpose: attention
Typical dimensions: 11” x 17” to 24” x 36”
Typical printing cost: $1 – 8 each

When to use a poster:

Posters are one-sided prints on light-weight, glossy stock. They’re meant to be hung and read from a distance. They’re best for event promotions (like movie posters), advertisements, and short announcements. The messaging should be instantly consumable. Poster designs should make a strong impression even without the reader fully engaging their attention.

When NOT to use a poster:

Posters are too flimsy for long-term use. Also, the longer a poster hangs in the same place the less people will notice it. Posters should contain more visuals than written copy. The information should be short and easy to remember.

Keep in mind:

Consider environment and installation when planning a poster. The size and style should be appropriate for the final hanging location. Do you want your professionally designed print collateral hung with a piece of tape? If your poster is hanging on or near a window, the colors will fade in the sun without a UV-coating.

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Purpose: attention
Typical dimensions: 12” x 36” and up
Typical printing cost: $25 and up

When to use a banner:

Banners are print collateral in that they involve ink and physical material. They’re printed on vinyl and work as portable signs. Banners come in a wide range of sizes, though not all printers can produce larger ones. Think of them like heavy-duty posters. Banner designs should be visible and legible from a distance. They’re best used for general brand awareness, recurring events, and in situations where durability matters. Though less professional in appearance than a permanent sign, they’re much less expensive.

When NOT to use a banner:

Banners are not meant to be handled closely or printed for individual readers. The message shouldn’t be more than a name or short phrase. Think about how long the banner needs to last. If they’ll meet your needs, posters are much less expensive.

Keep in mind:

Again, think about the environment in which the banner will hang. Do you need poles or a structure to hold the banner? Many printers offer these at an additional cost. Banners are designed to be reused. You may get more bang for your buck if you leave off time-bound info like event dates.

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Choosing the right print collateral

The main factors to consider when choosing your print collateral are message and audience. Think about what needs to be communicated and to whom. Make sure your budget is appropriate to the lifetime of the printed material. Remember design as well. When you’re investing big bucks in printing your marketing materials, you want to be sure the design is intentional and professional.

We’re happy to answer questions about print collateral. Leave yours in the comments.

Note on printing costs:
Unit costs for printing decrease with higher quantities. Our costs were based on 500 business cards; 100 flyers, mailers, rack cards, and brochures; and one poster and banner. We approximated costs from a variety of online printers in October 2017.


  • Lucy Gibson says:

    I would assume that most small business owners would want to find the best ways to market to their demographic. Using professionally made marketing material seems like an important step in creating trust and confidence with customers. I love your point about how mailers are great for targeting a specific audience through geography or demographics.

    • Megan Schaulis says:

      Lucy, thanks for your comment. We definitely believe print materials still have a lot of power, if they’re well designed and printed. There’s a lot of good research out there about the effectiveness of mailers in particular.

  • I liked that you said that there are different kinds of printing that can be done to promote your business. I would imagine that this would help you to bring in more customers. I would be sure to hire a professional to print marketing material for my business in order to help me become more successful.

  • I like how you explained that business cards need to be small and shaped well enough so they can fit in a wallet easily. I think a lot of people overlook this and try to print off flashy and oddly shaped cards. If I got one of those, I’d be impressed but I’d throw it away because it isn’t convenient for me.

    • Megan Schaulis says:

      Franklin, We feel the same way. We’ve received some fancy cards that have ended up misplaced because they didn’t fit.

  • Fanny says:

    Dear Megan Schaulis, thank you for your share about the booklet, thank you very much

  • Eli Richardson says:

    It’s great that you elaborated on different printed marketing materials and their design options. My sister wants to organize a fundraiser to help our community’s children, so I think she’d benefit from reading your insight since she’ll visit a few companies next week to invite them to participate. I appreciate your intake about using brochures to distribute more information and content.

  • Steve Smith says:

    I found it interesting when you said that understanding the organization you are in could help with the appropriate printing approach. My friend mentioned the other night that he and his business partner were planning to print flyers that would inform people about their business food truck. He asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to consider. Thanks for helping me understand printing services, I’ll tell him they can consult well-known printing services as they can provide their desired printed flyers designs.

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