At one point or another, almost every business—regardless of industry or size—will invest in a quality printing project for their marketing materials. Because of the emphasis that modern marketing places on branded communications, the St. Louis business community has seen an uptick in the use of professional letterhead. Well-designed letterhead and envelopes that are frequently used for both internal audiences, like employees, and for external audiences, like the local community and customers, allow businesses to relate important information in all of their outgoing correspondence.
Of course, not all letterhead is created equal. Poorly designed and poorly printed letterhead can negatively impact a company’s brand, just as much as a quality, well-crafted letterhead design can enhance it. Before you invest in printed letterhead in St. Louis, take the time to layout a plan. For maximum results, here are the five steps we recommend following:
Step 1: Create A Letterhead Strategy
Marketers and business managers are well aware of how important a solid strategy is to any initiative. In this early stage, you’ll need to lay the groundwork for the entire project:
- Determine who your audience is.
- Decide what your letterhead should accomplish. This may be as simple as “convey contact information,” but you should still be specific.
- Choose a timeframe in which you need the job completed. Knowing this ahead of time will help your printer work with your deadlines.
- Ascertain how much printed product you will need.
Determining your target audience is a crucial part of this first step. If you send regular letters to your customers, those letters will benefit from looking a bit different than the version you send to business partners. Depending on the intended audience, your goal may need to clarified, and the concept and design of your letterhead may need to be differently optimized for each audience.
Don’t be daunted by this first step. In fact, creating a strategic document as short as one page that includes your primary target audience, the goals your letterhead needs to accomplish, and the general amount that you need will make the rest of the process much easier.
Step 2: Generate Content
After creating the strategic document, it’s time to start thinking about the actual content that should populate your letterhead. Again, this content depends on your target audience, but at a minimum, it should include:
- Your business logo.
- Your company’s name.
- Your name and title.
- A primary means of contact, including both phone and email.
Depending on your needs, you may consider additional information such as:
- City and state, especially if you have multiple office locations.
- Mailing address.
- Web address, if it’s short and pithy.
- A list of your board of directors if you’re a nonprofit using letters to communicate with individual members of business partners.
Including your website’s URL can be incredibly helpful in driving traffic to your site. Just make sure that it isn’t overly long; it should be short and easy to remember. In today’s business world, digital and print marketing work hand-in-hand as an integrated strategy for the best results.
Step 3: Find A Partner
Armed with a strategy and the content for your letterhead, it’s time to find a printing company in St. Louis that can accommodate your needs. Here, you should evaluate three key areas:
- Can they print professionally? High-quality matters in all print materials, but it becomes especially important for letterhead. The audience to which you will send letterhead and envelopes are likely to read your content closely, and can therefore more easily detect low-quality logos, incongruent fonts, or any other type of design or print flaws that might otherwise be easy to overlook. For example, you may want your letterhead to bleed into the edge of the page for a professional appearance, so you should carefully evaluate your printer’s ability to accommodate your specific needs.
- Can they help with design? Especially if you operate a small business, you may simply not have the expertise needed to achieve the goals that you’ve set for your letterhead. In that case, try to find a printing company that can help you with designing the product to your specifications, and create materials that enhance your corporate identity. Ideally, your audience will know who you are and what you offer simply by glancing over a letterhead—without reading a single word on the actual letter. Professional graphic designers, especially if they operate through a printing company that can directly implement and realize the design, can accomplish just that.
- Can they remain partners after the print job? The answer to this last question is so important that it deserves its own section.
Step 4: Prepare For Reprint
Regardless of how many individual letters and envelopes you print, one truth is inevitable: you will eventually need more. Chances are that you will use your letterhead for a wide range of activities, which is why it’s crucial to have a plan in place for when you inevitably run out of materials. You should not only stay in touch with a St. Louis printing company who can keep your files and stay in touch after the initial product, but who can also keep (and update) the strategic document we mentioned in the first step, to keep you on track and remind you of your priorities.
Of course, when you print a new batch of letterhead, be open to making improvements on the last batch. Look critically at how your last order either did or did not reach its intended goals. While this is certainly an inexact science, a simple marketing mantra remains true for printing your letterhead as well:
Step 5: Don’t Be Afraid To Track
Remember our tip to add a URL to your letterhead design? If you customize that URL just enough, it allows you to track just how many members of your audience visited your website directly after reading one of your company letters. Of course, web visits are not and should not be your primary concern when printing letterheads; corporate identity and visual appearance are certainly more important. But it never hurts to add some trackability to your letterhead campaign, enabling you to make updates as needed and maximize your success.
Printing letterhead seems so simple. When done well, professional and quality letterhead will have a positive impact on your bottom line and create a consistent image and brand identity for your audience. But as with all business efforts, spontaneity does not always result in success. In reality, a little strategy in the beginning goes a long way and makes for future re-prints to be seamless and simple.