November 11, 2019

10 steps to creating effective marketing materials for your small business

Have you got a big trade show coming up or a new product launching? Here’s how to magic up an effective suite of marketing materials to promote yourself.

Whether you’re showcasing your latest wares, promoting a red letter day event at your business, or simply announcing to the world that you’re here and you’re awesome, there are a few rules of thumb that will help you save time, get fantastic results and hopefully have some fun along the way. Here’s our 10-step guide to creating a set of marketing materials for your small business.

1. Define a mission statement

What are you trying to achieve with your marketing push? Having a clearly set-out goal for your marketing project will help you keep your materials focused, consistent and easy for your audience to understand.

Your goal might be driving sales, building brand awareness, promoting a particular product or highlighting an event or destination you want customers to come along to. Those are typical goals, but there are all kinds of other reasons to promote that aren’t directly related to your bottom line. For example, your goal might be something like announcing you’ve had a rebrand and getting customers used to your new logo and brand identity.

Whatever it is, make your goal the main thrust of your content and check that everything ties into that central theme. You can add other things too, but make sure they’re minor side-notes and don’t compete with the main goal of your piece.

2. Look at your past materials

Are you creating printed marketing materials for the first time? If this is your first rodeo, skip this step. 

If you’ve done it before, however, you can get a major head start on the design of your new materials without spending a penny. 

Gather your previous marketing materials together and spend some time looking over them, either alone or in a small group. Decide what worked and what you could have done better, looking at the wording, imagery, layout, and the physical materials you chose. Consider whether your brand identity and objectives have changed or if your main message is basically the same.

3. Step into your audience’s shoes

You know your small business is outstanding, because you’ve put all your efforts into making it that way. You also know your product offering inside out and could write a book of all the neat features and design touches that make it stand out from the competition.

But the people who are looking at your marketing materials know none of these things, and here’s the fact of the matter: they have no reason to care enough to find out. 

That idea can be tough to take on board, but if you look at it in the right way, it’s also the key to creating the most effective marketing materials.

Imagine you’re a busy person with minimal interest in discovering a new company and trying out its wares. What would convince you to take a look? What kind of benefits might entice you in? The answers to those questions are the messages you need to lead on with your marketing.

For example, does your product help to save time for busy parents? Is it cheaper than someone might expect compared to similar things on the market? Are there life-long benefits like free repairs which make it attractive to someone with a sustainability-based mindset?

It’s likely that you’ll come up with a range of different benefits for different audiences. Try to find the most widely applicable one, e.g. money saving, to headline in your marketing. You can also refer to CRM data and social media listening tools, if you use them, to identify what’s most important to your typical customer.

4. Try some testimonials 

Testimonials are a wonderful way to market your small business. That’s because it’s not you bigging up your own products, the praise is coming from customers who are unbiased and have a balanced opinion of what you offer.

A testimonial can also help bring out the benefits and strengths of your products from a customer perspective (see the previous tip), something which has a selling power all of its own. 

Finally, customers can name and acknowledge things that might not sound right coming directly from you, like how your wares measure up against perceived weaknesses in the product format – for example “I thought vegan leather shoes were always flimsy and wore out too fast, but these have surprised me.”

5. Take a consistent approach to branding

Your marketing materials should all have a recognisable look and feel that shows they all represent one unique brand. They don’t need to be identical, but they should share a kind of family resemblance. 

You can achieve this by taking a single approach across your

  • Color palette
  • Font or font family
  • Heading
  • Slogan or strapline
  • Logo and iconography
  • Illustration or design style
  • Paperstock and stationery

For example, if your business cards feature the company logo in blue and are printed on a matte cardstock, make these elements part of your stickers and flyers too.

6. Always have a clear call to action

A call to action (sometimes shortened to CTA) is the part of your marketing that prompts your customer to take the next step, such as visiting your website, connecting with you on social media, picking up the phone or coming into your store. 

A CTA is important because it actively leads the customer onwards in their journey with your business. It may seem obvious that they can contact you via web or email, but remember the customer mindset – they’re busy, distracted, and not yet loyal to or engaged with your brand. The call to action joins up the dots for them and makes the action very easy to take.

Here are some examples of calls to action. 

  • For a free consultation, phone 800-000-000
  • Visit us at
  • Find us on Facebook
  • Come and see our store at 111 MOO Street

It’s a good idea to keep your CTA short, clear and straightforward. Focus on a single action for the user to take, rather than risking information overload by giving them too many options at once. That doesn’t mean you can’t include all of your communication channels on a poster, flyer or postcard, just that you should designate one as the main CTA and give it pride of place.

CTAs are often placed at the bottom of marketing materials to ‘catch’ the reader when they’ve scanned the rest of the content and are finished with reading.

7. Make every word and picture work

Cluttered marketing materials are off-putting and overwhelm the reader with too much information. However much thought and care you put into it, a flyer or postcard with too much wording or with photos squeezed into every corner will probably not suggest professionalism or quality.

Narrow things down by revisiting your mission statement. Every single word on your piece should support the main mission behind it. And every picture should strengthen the message or add new, non-verbal information.

It can be tough to resist the urge to add more and more to a flyer or poster, especially if it’s the only print run you’ll be making in the foreseeable future. But stay focused on the mission statement, rather than your personal feelings about what should be said. After all, it’s natural that you want to shout about every aspect of your business – you’re it’s number one advocate after all.

8. Add urgency with deals and deadlines

Everyone loves a bargain, and adding a time limit to your promotional code or discount will help prompt customers to take action and make a purchase.

Try adding a line like

“Limited offer: Until December 1st, Save 15% when you order on our website using the code MARPROMO”

As an added bonus, you’ll be able to track the code to see how many people made a purchase as a result of your marketing materials. This can help you gauge the return on investment from your marketing drive so you can budget effectively for the next one.

9. Use premium materials

Printed marketing materials are your chance to make an impression on your customers using all of their senses rather than just eyes or ears. Paper and card communicate your brand through weight and texture as well as vivid color and crisp, sharp imagery.

Materials that are printed on good quality, heavy-weight paper and card show that your business takes quality seriously. A business card or flyer that’s a pleasure to look at and touch creates positive associations with your brand. Conversely, if your materials are low cost and low quality, customers are likely to expect the same from your products. 

MOO offers plenty of luxe options, from Luxury Business Cards made with 4 layer thick paper with a pop of colour in the middle to Pearlescent Flyers to give a touch of shine, so you’ll never have to settle for less than the best for your business.

10. Try out a template

We know that as a small business, you may not have the in-house resources to design marketing materials from scratch. If you’re creating business cards, flyers, postcards, posters or stickers, a design template can be a great short-cut to a professional finish without the time and expense of choosing and hiring an independent designer. 

Choosing complementing templates from the same provider can also help you keep the look and feel consistent across these different assets. 

If you use a service like MOO, you’ll have a choice between off-the-peg templates that require minimal customization – just add your own wording – and more flexibility to change the colors, fonts and images. Many of our template styles also come in matching versions for business cards, postcards, flyers and more, so you can create a neat suite of materials.

For more related tips, explore our guide to inexpensive marketing for small businesses



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