How you can best utilize low-cost promotional stickers and decals to advertise, build identity, support promotions, influence prospects and increase sales!

By Jeff Nicholson

Are you looking for a promotional marketing medium that breaks through the clutter of today’s competitive market place, is hard to ignore or throw away, is viewed by the public as a “product” not an advertisement, and costs just pennies? It may sound too good to be true, but the fact is promotion stickers are working in this capacity for an increasing number of companies looking for creative, cost-effective ways to reach customers and prospects.

Do you attend trade shows? Do you sponsor events? Do you use direct mail? Do you have sales reps? If you are in business to make money you should not ignore the power and incredible value of this often overlooked and under-utilized promotional marketing product. “Stickers” aren’t just for kids anymore – they’re powerful sales tools that need to be a part of your marketing program.

This report was written to help you maximize the effectiveness of your promotion stickers. These are important considerations and tips when working on the design, printing, and distribution of any promotional sticker.

Optimum Sticker DesignPre DesignA Stronger StickerBackcopy for PromotionCreate and PrintFinished Stickers, What Now?


green-dot What Are Promotional Stickers and What Can They Do For You?

Although any sticker with your name or logo on it is “promotional” to a degree, the focus of this report is to step beyond stickers which are used simply for labeling and signage. The proven uses we will be discussing are as powerful handouts at trade shows and special events, mailing pieces, gifts or incentives, etc.

You need to disregard any preconceived notions of “stickers” and begin to consider them as a potentially powerful advertising medium and a distribution vehicle for information.


green-dot A Promotion Sticker Can Function in Two Important Capacities:

  1. As a fun, promotional product – A giveaway that is attractive to your clients/prospects, resulting in the marketing stickers being applied to a visible location such as their car. The “volunteer sales force” this creates then proceeds to drive around promoting your company or product to the world.
  2. Stickers are also a vehicle or medium that are used to deliver information to prospects and customers. There are two sides to every sticker and not utilizing the back side is like paying for advertising space and then leaving it blank or only using half of what’s available. Would you print a six panel brochure and leave three of those panels blank?

By linking these two functions you can instantly see the cost advantages and effectiveness of this medium. You have information that you want to put and keep in prospects and customers hands. If you want to build your database, perhaps, print a survey, entry form, or subscription card. If you want to mail announcements, news, and advertising, the back of your sticker is a format that won’t be ignored and costs as little to mail. By using well designed marketing stickers you can easily accomplish these goals and more.


green-dot To Be Effective, Promotion Stickers Should:

  • Be used as both a sticker product and a medium for delivering information.
  • Strike a chord with your target market. Give your prospect/client something of value, something they will not throw away, something that they will want to display because it’s “cool”, useful, looks great, or because they want people to know about their association with your company or certain viewpoint. By establishing this bond with your prospect/customer with the sticker (on the front) you are also creating a powerful medium for distributing information (printed on the back of sticker) that will not be ignored.
  • To achieve these objectives your marketing stickers must be well designed. To be an effective ad medium, stickers require the same attention to strong design – copy, headlines, slogans, color, size, shape, etc. as any other print advertising.

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green-dot Designing Your Promotion Sticker (the product)

There are two separate design objectives your advertising decals and marketing stickers need to address. Both involve grabbing the attention of your prospects:

  1. The sticker needs to attract your prospect. It needs to have a perceived value which keeps it out of the trash and increases the possibility of being applied to a visible location like a car, notebook, window, helmet, etc.
  2. Secondly, once applied, the advertising decals need to attract and be visible to everyone else.

The design of your sticker must work in both of these capacities. The sticker design must be eye-catching from two feet away while still on it’s backing paper as well as eye-catching (and legible) from a longer distance.

Effective marketing stickers and advertising decals must be very simple in design. It needs to convey an impression quickly, clearly, and often from a distance. Advertising and further information belongs on the back of the sticker and in other mediums.


green-dot Important Pre-Design Considerations:

  • What is your desired outcome? Will the sticker promote your name/logo, promote a certain product, promote a slogan?
  • How will the advertising decals be distributed? Handed out at trade shows and special events… mailed as a postcard… sold… packaged with product… included with a mailing… all of above?
  • What are the ideal locations for final application? Do you want the stickers to end up on cars… helmets… equipment… lunchboxes?
  • How will the marketing stickers and advertising decals tie-in with your other marketing materials?

The answers to these questions are essential in determining the most effective choices for color, copy, size, shape, and graphics. It is also important to remember that the backcopy can be changed to fit any number of purposes. It is important to examine these purposes when designing the front of the sticker so as not to eliminate possible uses. For example, if you produce a large bumper sticker you no longer have the option of using it as a postcard, hang tag, business card, etc.

We have found the strongest stickers are usually less than 16 square inches, are printed on white vinyl, and are often die cut.

  • A white background offers the strongest base for creating bold printed colors.
  • Optimum sizes are always changing, but in general larger bumper stickers will not end up in visible locations (as they may have in the past). A smaller size is more versatile.
  • Die-cutting never goes out of style. Often the visual impact of a sticker increases when graphics are complemented by a shape other than square. The cost of a die is a minimal one-time fee but the long term benefits are invaluable.

Utilizing a strong design, in a versatile size, and an eye-catching shape adds to the perceived value of the sticker. This increases the percentages of stickers applied in visible locations, which in turn means more impressions for your company.

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green-dot Other options that may help create a stronger marketing piece for you include:

  • Face slitting – This allows you to have more than one square cut sticker on a sheet or to have information printed on an edge of the sticker that will later be detached.
  • Thermal die cutting – This allows you to have multiple stickers in various shapes on one sheet. This also allows you the option of placing a die-cut logo on a square postcard or creating larger sheets with removable, different shaped images.

Once you have a strong, simple, attractive sticker produced you can consider ways this medium can deliver additional information to your prospects and customers.


green-dot Designing/Writing the Backcopy For Your Promotion Sticker

We have already discussed the importance of utilizing the back of your sticker. This area is where many companies’ stickers fail to meet their full potential. Unfortunately this oversight is often due to some misconceptions about backcopy such as:

“How can you choose the right backcopy for all stickers when the sticker will be used/distributed in a number of capacities?”

Tip: The important answer here is that YOU DON’T need to choose. You have flexibility when it comes to backcopy which helps achieve multiple objectives. Copy changes on initial print runs are very inexpensive. Or leave some blank – print backcopy at a later time at a local print shop (if square cut).

Let’s say, for example, you want to print stickers with coupons on the back which you will be inserting in a publication. You also want to hand out stickers at special events with product information or a limited offer on the back. And you want to leave a portion blank on the back to perhaps be printed later for another event or mailing (or used as a retail item). You can easily accomplish these goals with several simple copy changes on your initial printing while still leaving many options open for adding appropriate information or advertising in the future.

You don’t need to place multiple sticker orders – just pay a low copy change charge of around $45. (for each copy change) and your stickers can market you in various capacities.

Tip: Perhaps you don’t have anything to say, sell, or data to gather by using backcopy (this is hard to believe). You have another valuable option available, to sell or trade the back space to another company looking to reach your target market. This can lower the cost of your stickers (even have them paid for in some cases) or obtain other cooperative benefits.

For example, a company selling bicycles could let a bicycle magazine put subscription information on the back of their sticker. This could be paid for outright, traded for ad space in the publication, or perhaps the sticker could be cooperatively distributed to each other’s customers. Both parties benefit.

The main point to remember is that the back of a sticker should be used in some capacity to reap the greatest marketing benefits and the best value.

Consider, once again, the many possible opportunities stickers present beyond arming the public with an identity building mini-billboard:

  • You can distribute coupons which encourage future sales.
  • You can inform prospects about other products and services.
  • You can arm the public with important phone numbers and information.
  • You can build your data base with registration cards, contests, free offers, etc.
  • You can create an eye-catching postcard which delivers timely information at a great price.
  • The creative uses go on and on.

What do you currently hand out or mail out to customers and prospects? Which of these could be strengthened by being coupled with a fun, eye-catching product?

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green-dot You Know What to Do…  Now Who’s Going to Create And Print This Promotional Sticker?

Another factor that often limits a sticker’s marketing power is simply executing the design, writing, and purchase of the stickers. There are a lot of “sticker” out there, but not many effectively designed, identity building, promotional stickers. Stickers deserve the same attention to detail, design, copy, and integration in the marketing mix as other print mediums.

This means that marketing and sales personnel, and designers need to be involved in sticker production. If stickers are treated like simple freebies or office products ordered by a secretary or intern, the result will be a simple freebie that does not tie in with your other marketing efforts and/or misses valuable opportunities to sell.

Step One: of the design process is to decide whether to work in-house, with an outside ad agency or designer, with the company from which you will be purchasing the stickers, or a combination of the above. It is best to work with someone who has designed stickers before and can take your suggestions and ideas and effectively work them into a strong, customized marketing product (sticker).

It is important to note that in many cases when buying stickers you will not be working directly with the manufacturer. This is a good thing – The best and biggest sticker printers concentrate on printing a quality product and leave the designing and selling to other professionals. If you are working directly with the manufacturer, keep in mind they may have limited production options and their focus is mainly on selling a commodity product, not on what may be best for your identity and marketing.

What this means to you is that you need to find out who you are working with and make sure they have your marketing interests in mind. Many catalogs and promotional product suppliers are just that, suppliers, and ordering houses. They may not have an interest or enough background to help you create the strongest possible marketing piece for the best possible price.

Step Two: Ask questions to help find a company that can create and sell you your promotional stickers

  • Ask what else the company sells and how much they will be able to assist in making your sticker a strong marketing medium and not just a printed product. Can company help (if needed) with design, copy writing, and/or suggest improvements or cost saving tips when appropriate?
  • Ask for samples of stickers similar in style and purpose to what you are considering.
  • Ask about guarantees on service and quality.
  • Ask their opinion on number of colors, size, and quantities that will accomplish your desired goals.

Step Three: When obtaining information and pricing on promotional stickers be sure to ask about:

  • The material to be printed on and printing process. Make sure the material is suitable for outdoor use and that inks will not fade.
  • Stock sizes. Perhaps there is a size or shape close to what you need that can save you substantial money if you slightly alter design.
  • Quantity price breaks. Get prices for several different quantities. Many times, getting thousands more stickers won’t cost you more or may even cost less due to factory price breaks.
  • Production time schedule and options. Usually, the faster you need your stickers the more it will cost. Make sure you are very clear about your time frame. Normal production times can vary from one week to five weeks depending on a number of variables.
  • Other charges. What is included in quote? Copy changes… die charges… shipping… color matches? Make sure all possible options and costs appear clearly on written quote.

Tip: If your marketing stickers are being designed in-house or by an agency there should be close contact with the company you have chosen to handle the sticker production. This will not only ensure all production requirements are properly followed but that design is evolving effectively in the sticker format.

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green-dot Once You Have Your Finished Sticker

  • Don’t be shy with marketing stickers distribution (the per piece price is quite low). Hand them out at every opportunity, include them in mailings, have employees put them on their cars and give them to friends… Just as with a business card, “the more the merrier.” The difference with this “business card” is that it will stick around for a long time with residual exposure and results.
  • Continue to think creatively about further beneficial uses and ways to increase distribution.
  • Consider how another sticker could also contribute to your marketing efforts

green-dot Last Words

I can not think of one business that couldn’t in some way benefit from the use of promotional stickers.

Here’s why:

  • They increase company visibility and build identity.
  • They can be used to effectively communicate information to prospects and customers.
  • They advertise, support promotions, and strengthen other marketing efforts.
  • They help you stand out from the crowd and from the clutter of traditional advertising mediums.
  • They are an exceptional marketing value.

Jeff Nicholson is the founder and Creative Director at Freely Creative, Inc. and Websticker a marketing company specializing in the design and production of promotional stickers, decals and labels. Since the writing of this report he has done extensive research and writing culminating in the publishing of the #1 marketing book about promotional stickers; Stick This! Using Promotional Stickers To Build Identity, Create Word Of Mouth and Grow Sales. A free copy of the book is available to non-profit organizations, designers and marketing professionals.

Why stickers? Some quotes from stick this!

  • Stickers are the most effective promotional tool possible for the price. Shepard Fairey
  • I was always of the mind set that you need to get your consumers not only as your advocates but also your marketing and advertising department. My goal was always to leverage my consumer following and stickers are my #1 way of doing that. Jason Levinthal
  • I would always choose budgeting more money to give away free stickers over paying for advertising any day. Leigh Hurst
  • Our sticker program insures that customers can always find our number when they need us. Josh Ward
Awesome Websticker Staff

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