Why Paper Matters
Choosing the best paper type for your project starts with understanding why paper is such a crucial element. Your customers equate the quality of your marketing with the quality of your products and services, so to have a high-quality print job suggests you have a high-quality business that offers high-quality products, services, and customer support – which influences purchasing decisions.
A Study: Postcards
We can figure out the best paper type from a study, for example, Imagine receiving two postcards in the mail, each from competing companies yet featuring comparable offers and design.
Company A’s postcard is thin and flimsy, the colors are dull and lackluster, and the inks appears scratched. Company B’s postcard is thick and sturdy, the colors are brilliant, and the ink is flawless.
Everything else being equal, which company would you buy from? Most people would choose Company B simply because they sent the superior postcard; a fundamental, yet often subconscious, psychological response to quality marketing materials.
The right paper stock for printing lends itself to a sub-discipline called sensory marketing: understanding how the senses influence perception, which in turn influences buying decisions.
When you use the best paper stock for printing your projects, your designs look amazing – even fascinating, delighting customers’ sense of sight – and your marketing materials deliver pleasant tactile sensations that customers equate to quality.
“Hand” refers to how a given paper stock feels, and a paper’s hand makes a statement even before it’s printed: soft and luxurious, sleek and bright, textured or smooth, paper characteristics have psychological influence. In fact, they can even motivate purchases.
In a Harvard Business Review article titled Please Touch the Merchandise, Lawrence Williams and Joshua Ackerman reported these findings:
- People who sat in soft chairs versus hard chairs were willing to offer 28 percent more for automobiles. This suggests that people are more susceptible to persuasion when they touch soft objects.
- Job interviewers believed candidates were more serious when they conducted interviews holding heavy clipboards. This suggests that marketing material weight can make a company seem more attractive or qualified.
- People who drank water from heavy vessels versus flimsy cups believed the water in the heavy vessels to be of higher quality, even though it wasn’t.
This reinforces the suggestion that customers respond positively to heavy, and negatively to light, flimsy marketing tools.
From these findings, we can surmise that visual enhancement combined with tactile sensations – or hand – make for the perfect paper stock for any given project.
The Best Paper Type for Printing
The best paper stocks for printing feature:
- High opacity, which allows for heavier ink coverage
- High brightness, which makes inks more vivid
- High thickness, which offers stability
- Smooth surface, which quickly absorbs inks and minimizes ink blots and other imperfections
If you’re concerned about shipping costs, you can opt for lighter paper weight, thinner paper stocks, and less opaqueness; but understand you’ll sacrifice print quality to save money at the post office, which might translate to lost sales at the mailbox.
Different types of papers and grades are best for different uses. For example:
- Uncoated offset paper is good for books and manuals, as well as uncoated business cards you can write on
- Opaque papers are good for marketing tools: business card printing, flyer printing and brochure printing
- Bond or writing papers are good for corporate identity pieces, such as corporate letterhead printing
- Text and cover paper stocks are excellent choices for both corporate identity and premium marketing materials
- Parchment is a good choice for certificates
- Index paper is typically used for index cards
- Safety paper is used for coupons and checks
- Vellum Bristol is often used for door hanger printing
- Pressure sensitive paper stocks make good labels