Vladimir Gendelman, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Pontiac, Michigan, is the founder and CEO of Company Folders, an award-winning online printing company specializing in presentation folders. The company made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America for three consecutive years. As a thought-leader in print design and business, we asked Vladimir about the best ways to transform your marketing materials. Here's what he shared:

While digital marketing is a significant focal point on the business landscape, print marketing--which started nearly 200 years ago--remains a robust marketing tool. Whether it's trade shows, in-person networking or direct mail campaigns, print materials elegantly convey information about your company, brand and products.

Unlike their digital counterparts, print marketing materials aren't instantly deleted with a click. They have staying power. When done well, print materials can work in conjunction with digital marketing efforts to differentiate your company and help customers remember you.

To do print marketing well, there's pressure to capitalize on the next great design trend. Given how long print marketing has endured, it can be challenging to come up with fresh ideas.

Sometimes, the best way to step up your game is to leverage existing techniques with a unique twist. That's what our team focuses on when creating new designs for clients, whether it's finding a cool way to emboss a product or using a coating to highlight a specific design feature.

Here are five ways to create memorable, inspiring print marketing materials.

1. Cut it out

Marketing material designs aren't limited to square or rectangular shapes. Consider reshaping the piece itself to match your logo or another brand element. Recipients will make the connection when the guitar shop's business card is shaped like a guitar pick, and round business cards literally stand out from the pack at conferences.

For folders or brochures, you can add multiple curves, change the pocket shape, or create a custom-shaped window. Such windows not only provide a quirky design element--they also encourage recipients to look inside by offering a peek at the contents. Die cuts can outline or accentuate essential design elements such as a company logo or featured product.

2. Give it a lift

Embossing lifts your design from the stock, providing a raised, textural effect. It can be used to create geometric patterns or emphasize specific areas of your design. You can even give your die cut more pizzazz by embossing the border. Nothing is off-limits: You can add embossed elements to folder pockets, envelope flaps and business cards.

Combining embossing with other imprint methods can transform and refresh a piece. That's the case with this folder designed for a fine jewelry store. The foil stamp visually communicates elegance, while the embossed logo adds a level of sophistication and calls attention to the flap of the product.

3. Make it feel real

A poignant image stirs emotions, whether by drawing attention to your cause or identifying uses for your product or service. The key is avoiding basic, generic stock images.

Instead of images of your product sitting on a desk or in a field, choose an image showing the product in use or various scenarios in which the products would be ideal. Images must look and feel authentic as if they were plucked from a target customer's camera roll or social media feed. Authentic imagery makes it easier for people to connect with your brand.

4. Add a coating

Incorporating a stock coating into your design can be the cherry on top of your sundae. In addition to providing extra protection to print marketing materials, it draws the eye to specific design elements by adding unique texture and shine. Coatings also add a level of sophistication and luxury, implying that you use only the highest-quality materials, which can make customers feel more comfortable working with you.

A spot-UV coating makes specific colors pop, or it can create its own element on the stock. A soft-touch coating provides a smooth, suede-like feel, giving recipients a tactile experience that will help them remember your product. For a more subtle look, matte coatings provide contrast and protect your design without the shiny, reflective appearance of a gloss coating.

5. Give it depth

Ever seen a design that makes you want to reach out and touch it? That's the magic of 3D design, which adds a new level of depth to any element, from fonts to graphics. It adds complexity to an otherwise simple piece. It's a best practice to use 3D design features sparingly and balance them with 2D counterparts to avoid weighing down your design.

Designer Katt Phatt transformed the Netbee logo to 3D so that it jumps off the screen. The key in this instance is Phatt's keen attention to detail--showing each individual wire and cog makes the logo more realistic.

While new trends take shape every day, you can make a modern design statement with existing techniques utilized in distinct ways to give marketing materials a sleek twist. A great designer will be able to mix the old and the new to create a timeless printed piece that stands out.

Published on: Aug 23, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.