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  • Writer's pictureYochi Eisner, Owner

Print and online marketing: Don't let your message get lost in the media!

Updated: Sep 11, 2021

How it all began

The concept of marketing a product or service began somewhere in the late 18th/beginning of the 19th centuries. It's hard for us today to imagine that online stores and online marketing hasn't been around forever and many believe that print marketing is long dead and should stay that way.

The truth is online virtual and offline print marketing are alive and living in the same head space of business owners and it's time to bring some order to the chaos. No marketing activity is one-size-fits-all and not every method can be cross-adapted from offline to online and vice-versa. Let's begin our journey of cross-adapting online and offline with window displays and store signs.

In the beginning: display windows and signage

Before internet marketing was a thing and stores and businesses could exist online, a store needed a display window, and usually some form of signage (a front hanging sign and/or an awning) with the business name, that (a) creatively displayed some of the items the store offered and (b) enticed you either to slow down as you passed by or to enter the store.

The better the display window and signage, the more eye-catching the design and the more suited to the target audience - the better chance customers would enter the store.

Display windows and signage have not died out or lost their appeal; they are as vital now as they were a hundred years ago. In fact, today that appeal must be Instagramable as well!

Posters, fliers and door-hangers

Print-on-paper advertising is far from dead and can be a great, cost-effective tool in the small business owner's tool box.

Posters and Billboards

Posters are used to sell everything from consumer goods to public service announcements and cultural events. They come in a never-ending range of sizes and convey their message graphically, with a minimal amount of text - usually just a statement/title, dates and times and a bit of branding.

Billboards take size to the extreme and are usually found on large outdoor structures, buildings and purpose-built frames on highways and keep their text to a bare minimum with the image telling the loin's share of the story.

Fliers and temptation

Fliers never seem to go out of fashion and can be an excellent, cost-effective way to market a local business to a local market. Before I go any further, let me end the spelling argument: the US spelling is FLIER and the UK spelling is FLYER. Remember: consistency is what matters here - just choose a spelling and stick to it.

Successful flier dimensions stay around the A4 size. Larger-sized fliers are harder to handle and take up too much room in a mail box, while smaller-sized fliers will get lost in the shuffle. Fliers can be printed on one or both sides, with two-sided fliers enabling you to present a strong meaningful image and minimal text on one side and more in-depth details on the flip side. Fliers are, for the most part, pretty cheap to print (in bulk) and distribute within a local area; which means this kind of marketing is a numbers game - the more your distribute, the better chance of getting positive results within a specific location.

Since fliers are personal, in the sense that one person at a time handles it and reads it, a clear CTA (Call to Action) included in the main text is vital, without it you have printed a nice-to-llok-at, throw-away sheet that will be forgotten before it hits the garbage pail.

I have noticed how tempting it is for some small business owners to take the flier - as is - and convert it into a graphic .jpeg or .png format to upload as a social media post image. Avoid this temptation at all costs! Fliers are designed to be handled and read in a near-A4 format and not viewed on a small 5.5" smartphone screen. Create a cleaner, tighter (less text) version of the flier image for your social media channels.


Door-hangers are exactly what they sound like, they are printed on a thicker grade of paper than a flier, with dimensions anywhere from 3.5" X 8.5" to 5.25" X 8.5" in size with a cut out for the door handle.

While door-hangers are more expensive to produce than fliers, they are larger and a bit more sturdy than fliers and more likely not to get lost or quickly ruined. Fliers are the favorite of small businesses from beauty salons to after-school programs to pizza shops, mainly due to their price-point; while larger businesses such as department stores and real estate agents are more willing to invest in the more expensive door-hangers.

Bringing offline (print) and online marketing together in your marketing plan

Both offline (print) and online marketing can and should have a place in your small business marketing plan. When cross-adapting your marketing content (images and message) keep these important points in mind to ensure that your message doesn't get lost in media.

  1. Don't simply 'shrink' your print images for online use. Images look very different in an A4 print format than they do on a 5.5" smartphone screen.

  2. Consider using less text and/or better text placement for online use. Text placed on images in an A4 format will lose their impact on online social media channels.

  3. Including website links in print ads has very little value as very few people will key-in the url string, while the use of website links in online ads are vital. These links enable you to (a) keep ad text to a minimum, (b) provide full information on your site and (c) improve traffic to your site.

Bottom line: Don't limit your marketing to just one outlet or media. It's your business and you should be marketing the hell out of it!

Image credits:

2nd image in blog: Eugène Atget, Boulevard de Strasbourg, 1910 CC donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Image credit for door does not include door hanger.


YE Associates is a marketing agency established to help small business owners make sense of their social media chaos with a wide range of business and marketing services. Need help with your marketing strategy and social media presence. Contact us today.

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