4 steps to creating a standout marketing binder for conferences and trade shows

Contributed to EO by Vladimir Gendelman, an EO Detroit member and founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc., an award-winning online printing company that has helped over 5,000 businesses print more than 20 million presentation folders. The company made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America for three consecutive years. Vladimir has shared his expertise to help entrepreneurs get the most for your printing budget and save big on custom-printed materials. Here he explains how to design your ideal presentation folder for upcoming events:

Few business events present as many opportunities to connect with customers one-on-one as trade shows and conferences. In-person events are a big investment, and to get the best return on that investment, it’s crucial to send prospects home with compelling information about your offerings.

As you prepare for your next event, these tips will help you craft a marketing binder that will draw in your audience, make a first-rate impression, and ensure they remember you when they’re ready to do business.

1. Plan your presentation

Start by analyzing the materials you’ll put in your binder—size, dimensions, number of sheets. This will pick the right size cover and rings and determine whether you need pockets.

  • Cover dimension – The most common three-ring binder sizes are 7” x 9” which holds 5 1/2” x 8 1/2” materials and 9” x 12” which holds letter-size collateral.
  • Ring sizes range from 1/2” to 4”. There are several ring shapes—round, Slant D, and D rings, which hold different quantities of paper. Select your ring size and capacity based on the number of sheets you’ll put in your binder.
  • Pockets hold brochures, catalogues, or other materials you want easy access to or don’t want to hole-punch. Some binders accommodate specialized pockets for business cards, CD/DVDs, thumb drives or spine labels.

2. Pick the right binder 

The ideal binder is the one that works best for where and how you use it. Whatever your event plans, this run-down of all custom 3-ring binder types will help you pick the ideal one for you.

  • Most popular – Vinyl binders are the most common. They wear well and resist liquids and stains so they look neat and professional at events.
  • Exclusive and elegant – Faux leather binders have the distinctive look of leather at a much lower price. Inserting padding under the vinyl gives it a plush feel that identifies your brand as sophisticated and high-end.
  • Solidly upscale – Turned edge binders, like vinyl are made of sturdy chipboard. But they are covered in paper or cloth, creating the upscale look of a hardcover book. 
  • Lightweight and budget-friendly – Paper binders are one of the least expensive choices and they’re lightweight, which can save costs if you’re shipping them to a conference or trade show.
  • Sturdy and stain-resistant – Poly binders are made of a solid sheet of plastic. They don’t fray or tear, and they are waterproof and easy to wipe clean. So, they’re perfect for keeping your marketing materials clean and dry at outdoor events or anywhere they might get dirty or wet.
  • Stand-up display – Easel binders feature a third cover panel that folds back to turn it into a triangular stand. On a trade show table, they display the materials inside, inviting attendees to step over to your booth to have a look.

3. Design your cover

Designing a binder that stands out from the crowd and makes people want to open it means selecting imprint methods that make your brand artwork jump off the cover. These basics will guide your key selections. For a more in-depth look, check out this guide to binder printing.

  • Full color – Four-color process, also known as CMYK, blends four colors together to produce a full spectrum. It is ideal for full-color artwork and photographs.
  • Single colors that pop – PMS ink colors are very precise. They ensure that important brand elements such as logos are the exact same color on all your printed materials. You can also spice up your binder with eye-catching PMS options like metallics and neons.
  • Shine – Foil stamping is often used to add a luxurious metallic shine to logos or lettering. But you can also use colored foils to add emphasis to a single design element, pearlescent foils to add sheen, and holographic foils that reflect a rainbow of colors.
  • 3-D designs – Embossing raises an area of the design to create a 3-dimensional shape that is enticing to touch and adds a refined air to your binder. Debossing is the opposite of embossing, indenting the design into the stock for an equally dramatic and elegant effect.
  • Die-cuts – Cut shapes into the cover of poly or paper binders to add eye-catching dimension to artwork. Or add a window that lets you change cover sheets to customize your binder for different recipients or events.

The surface is a key factor in how a design looks when it’s printed. To get crisp, clean four-color images, paper is the best choice. To combine the clarity of printing on paper with the protection of vinyl, use entrapment binders, which permanently seal printed paper into the binder’s panels under a clear sheet of vinyl. Or select clear view binders, which have transparent pockets on the covers and spine to insert printed paper. These give you the flexibility to use them for different occasions by swapping out the inserts.

4. Add organization

Round out your binder with custom binder divider tabs. They add organization to your materials, making it easy for the reader to flip to the section they want, and they present an excellent branding opportunity. Available in paper and poly, they offer a range of imprint options and let you introduce sections of your binder with information, graphics, images and key messages. Print them to match your binder cover for an attractive, fully branded look.

Selecting the right binder and imprint options will ensure you get the best return on your investment. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of your trade show binders.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

Categories: Best Practices PR/MARKETING


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