Five Print Techniques That Look Expensive But Aren’t

vladBy Vladimir Gendelman , CEO, Company Folders

We all want our marketing materials to look as impressive and professional as possible without needing to overspend. The truth is that audiences rarely care how much your marketing materials actually cost so long as they look and feel high-quality. Here are five simple ways to make expensive-looking marketing collateral while keeping within your budget.  

Custom Die-Cuts

When it comes to printed marketing materials, the first shape that springs to mind is probably a rectangle. We’ve all gotten fairly used to seeing rectangular posters, folders, mailers, brochures and so on–which means that materials that aren’t rectangular tend to attract a lot more attention.

 A popular and relatively inexpensive technique is to die-cut your media into an entirely new shape. This could be a unique form that your audience isn’t used to (such as a triangle or circle) or a recognizable symbol or object related to your business (for example, a mug-shaped postcard for a local coffee shop). It’s also possible to use die cuts in place of an imprint method, cutting windows out from the stock in the shape of distinctive lettering or logos.


Even if you’ve never heard of it, this is a technique you’re probably quite familiar with; it can be found on certified documents, wedding invitations, and stationary. It’s an imprint method that physically raises part of your stock to form lettering or a shape (similar to an official seal).

Embossed materials tend to evoke feelings of elegance, professionalism and class, when in fact this is among the most inexpensive imprint methods available. It can also be used in combination with other printing techniques; foil embossing or printed embossing results in a very visually interesting look.

Foil Stamping

Here’s an imprint method that can add a bit of shine to your marketing collateral. Foil stamping uses heat and pressure to apply metallic or non-metallic foil to the surface of your material. You often see this technique used with gold or silver foil, creating a luxurious look that actually tends to cost less than conventional printing.

Depending on the commercial printer you choose, you may have a wide variety of foil colors to choose from. Make sure that the color you select contrasts sufficiently with the surrounding stock or printed background—otherwise, your foil elements will simply blend into the scenery.


When looking at non-paper-based marketing materials such as custom drinkware or promotional products, engraving is a classic option that’s perfect for tasteful business events. Many people think of “custom engraving” as something done by hand for special occasions, but laser engraving has become increasingly affordable when applied to a large number of products.

 Engraving is especially renowned for looking expensive because it’s often applied to delicate, fragile materials: glass, mirrors, ceramics, etc. If you want to give the impression that your collateral is something that should be treated with care and respect, this is definitely a technique to consider.

Soft-Touch Coating

For materials that truly engage your audience, you can’t focus solely on how they look. You should also be aware of how they feel. Marketing collateral with a unique textural coating encourages touch and interaction from your recipient, and it’s often available at a very affordable price.

Soft-touch coating can be used to give folders or other paper materials a suede-like texture reminiscent of professional, leather-bound binders. It’s an excellent way to create a noticeable tactile impression without investing an unreasonable amount of money.

Know of other ways to enhance marketing collateral at minimal cost? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments!

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About the Author: Vladimir Gendelman is the CEO of Company Folders (, the standard bearer of online folder printing and offers the largest selection of folders, each with an average of over 15 million unique variations. Company Folders is trusted by Fortune 500 companies, national associations, universities, government agencies and small businesses to print their marketing materials for events, presentations, sales collateral, internal communications, press packets and much more.