Environmentally-friendly designing and marketing during a recession

Environmentally-friendly and eco-friendly design

I’ve noticed a trend emerge recently. A client of mine got me to design an invitation to a marketing event – cocktails at a new store – I sent him a beautifully designed invite in the form or a PDF and asked him how many he needed printed and he said: “Oh, there’s no need, I’m sending the PDF by email”.

More and more of this will be happening in the future. If this widely-predicted recession actually takes hold, marketing managers can tighten there budgets by sacrificing digital print for digital communication.

It’s another benefit of the interactive PDF. Why go to the expense of printing something when you can email a PDF? They look good, the file size is low enough not to bother the receiver and, let’s face it, it’s more likely to be seen than if it was sent in the post.

There are various other ways of side-stepping a printer. There’s html emails, although care should be taken that they’re not seen as spam. And there’s one-off web pages – if you’re very worried about spam filters simply put a link in your email. A new domain can be set up in seconds for next to nothing. Simply create a site at www dot something-interesting-that-hasn’t-been-thought-of-yet dot com and design an eye-catching splash page. Use web stats and forms to see if visitors have landed.

Did this help you? If so, please share!

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  1. Diana says

    I guess this is another sign that businesses are moving digital. There is still hope for the paperless office.

  2. says

    im just curious to know, how the retail business can survive if all things going digital…

    do they have to move to digital too ?

  3. says

    It’s a good question, Axa. I know that the high street retail business is having hard times here is the UK, being hit by both the online shopping and a downturn in consumer confidence. But obviously this isn’t the end of print design as we know it. Although increasingly I’m noticing plasma screens are replacing poster advertising and point-of-sale.

  4. says

    good post, and clever too….interesting that the client said he was only going to send the pdf rather than get them printed and mail them out

    I am personally against mass postcard mailings as the amount of wated paper in the mail these days is pretty upsetting!

    I wonder though if we will ever get rid of paper, as it is somehting you can leave behind that is physical…you can hold it , etc…like a business card….will paper materials like this always be in business???

    I guess we will see…..it’s lookin good for those of us that can design and implement both types of media tho!! :)

  5. says

    Thinking of ways to save money whilst having the same marketing clout is something I’ll be coming back to.

    I agree with you about mass mailings being a waste of paper but that paper will never really go away.

    For example, I have a standard sized business card and I think it’s perfect, it fits in a wallet and people usually keep them. In fact the last time I swapped cards with an associate he said, “some things never change”!

    Yes, I’m glad I’m not specialising in short run promotional print materials or something that finds the going tough at the moment.

    But I’m sure they’ll be new opportunities as the credit crunch bites!

    Thanks for the comment.

  6. says

    really nice. i got a website with tutorials too . but just about everything. maybe you will be interested in.

  7. Nathan says

    Truly the advocacy of going “green” goes beyond the usual; this time it’s for the techies, much easy and environment-friendly. This process should be emulated all throughout.

    • says

      If you publish content on Adobe PDFs readable with Acrobat they will be printed out only if the recipient requires it. This is much more sustainable that printing out the same document on paper however many times!

      Glad you love it, Danny!

  8. Greenie says

    I have more than one response to this brief article I’m afraid!

    Firstly, regarding the title of the article, I recently designed some postcard-sized flyers for general distribution in the local area, and agreed I would source the printing. I’m keen to be green (!) and in this instance was able to stress to the client that their audience may be widened if the flyers were obviously ‘green’ (‘100% recycled board’ in this case) and fortunately was able to find a printer within my given budget. I wonder if many others designing for print are keen on recycled paper etc. …?

    Secondly, in response to some of the article and replies, whilst I would like the world to be more paperless, I recently learned that our carbon footprint is still heavy due to intense internet use, specifically hard-working servers! My impressions were that green hosting was the way to go, so any of you with websites and a green ethos may want to google ‘green web hosting’ and see what you think!

    Lastly, a small question: When designing an A4 pdf for web/email distribution, bearing in mind the end user may print it out, I wonder does anyone adjust their designs accordingly? (I’m thinking about the margins an office printer has to leave, etc.) Or just figure that if it looks good on screen, it will have made its impact ok already?

    Many thanks and apologies for the length!

    P.S. Have just discovered this site/blog and rather enjoying the articles and writing style – so thank you Rob!

  9. says

    Hello Greenie, please be welcome to make as many responses to articles as you see fit!

    I often like to specify recycled paper in my print buying and, luckily, here in London UK, there are many printers that offer that option.

    You make a great point about the amount of CO2 that goes into the atmosphere as a result of our computing habits. I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as “green web hosting” so thanks for that pointer. I noticed that in making the new iMac, Apple were keen to reduce the machine’s carbon footprint as much as possible but pointed out that most power waste was caused by the end user not switching off or powering down!

    As for your last question. I always design on-screen PDFs in a horizontal paper size (or A4 in the UK). That way it fills the screen when viewed in Acrobat Reader and prints out well on desktop printers. 10mm margins should be OK to ensure nothing gets cut off.

    Let’s hope that the internet and other on-screen publishing methods will cut down our carbon footprint.

    I hope you continue to enjoy this blog!

  10. says

    Interesting thoughts here. More and more we are dealing with companies who are ‘paperless’ and they literally print something if they are absolutely forced to. Needless to say there offices are often the tidiest!

  11. Elijah says

    Great point. i use PDF’s myself. they are definately interactive as you say and email marketing campaigns just suck now that everyone has the images blocked.

  12. says

    I try to conserve energy as a financial precaution as much as anything. Due to financial considerations and the ubiquity of the web many printing jobs (and therefore paper production) just aren’t happening – which has positive environmental implications. But this is due to people cutting costs and the direction that media is taking – the fact that it’s environmentally friendly is a happy co-incidence.

  13. Edna says

    Thank you for sharing this one, it would be a great help for us not to use more of paper. We should support the advocacy of “green” now. Paperless is one of those.