Business Printing: Operational vs Promotional

Business Printing generally serves one of two functions - Operational or Promotional.

What is Operational Printing?

A business uses Operational Printing to assist with day-to-day operations. Examples of operational printing include checks, invoices, statements, order blanks, NCR forms, part lists, employee manuals, memo pads, shipping labels, time cards, product tags, etc. Operational printing is designed for functionality rather than appearance. The use of full color is rarely needed so the printing is usually just a single ink color, most commonly black.

As a rule of thumb, the main goal of an Operational piece is to increase business efficiency. Employees spend a large percentage of their time filling out, handling and referencing operational documents, so it's critical they are designed properly. Also, operational documents should be re-evaluated periodically to ensure they reflect any changes in internal operations.

What is Promotional Printing?

A business uses Promotional Printing to build awareness, create interest and promote its offerings. Examples of promotional printing include brochures, flyers, product catalogs, direct mail postcards, presentation folders, magnets, door hangers, etc. Promotional printing is designed to get attention and generate action from prospective and current customers. Full color is almost always used for Promotional printing.

The main goal of a Promotional piece is to convey a message that sells. Color increases attention, interest, readership and retention so that is why almost all promotional pieces are printed in full color. Fortunately, full color printing is much more affordable than it used to be so now every business can take advantage of this benefit. A gloss UV coating is also recommended for most promotional pieces because it really makes the colors pop. The use of spot UV is also a way to add interesting highlights to specific areas of a promotional piece.

Printing that Serves Both Functions.

Some business printing, like stationery, sort of merges operational with promotional. Letterhead and envelopes are used in day-to-day functions but are also seen by customers, so they should reflect well on the company's image. For this reason, letterhead and envelopes are commonly printed with colored ink. Sometimes they are even printed in full color, but more often they are printed with just one or two ink colors. Printing stationery with gradient shades (aka Screens or Halftones) is a popular and cost-effective way to make a one or two color logo more eye-catching.

If you are looking to improve the effectiveness of your operational or promotional printing, or have any other printing related questions, just give us a call to discuss. Chances are good we can help you out.

Take care! Rick

About the Author

Rick Stallings is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Rick is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221 or by submitting our easy quote request form. Rick and the Formax team have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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