Should I Print or Should I Go Digital?

Should I Print or Should I Go Now?

It’s not hard to guess that here at ZOOMcatalog we’re big-time fans of digital catalogs, flyers, lookbooks, idea boards…basically any kind of marketing material that you can view on a screen. Phone, tablet, computer…heck, if you’ve got some sort of smart screen door, we’re going to nerd out about it. Despite all that, though, we’re actually not anti-print over here. 

We are, however, anti-useless print. We think print catalogs and flyers have their place in our industry, but that place shouldn’t be a Dumpster outside a tradeshow hall. 

So when you’re planning a new marketing or sales campaign, how do you balance the physical versus the virtual? 

Well, we wish we could say one size fits all, but the truth is it will depend on your project. So to help you make your own decision, we’re running down the pros and cons of both, where the different mediums excel, and where the other option is the better choice. 

Where Print Excels

It Is Its Own Kind of Promo

Maybe you include a handy calendar of industry events on the back or a chart of common decoration techniques as a centerfold spread on the inside. Maybe you just make it so pretty they can’t help but snag a copy so they can look at it all day long. Remember, your business is all about creating products to sell services and promote businesses. Use that knowledge to create a print piece that people would want to have in their office. 

It’s Unique

A well-designed print piece will catch all sorts of eyes, especially if you focus on creating a unique experience that breaks away from traditional designs. Special fold-outs, unusual shapes, extravagant inks, luxe paper choices to create a special feel in hand – all of these elements create a unique artifact that will inhabit a special place and stand out among your customers’ shelves.  

It Takes Up Space

Okay, depending on the size of your workspace, this might actually go in the con column but hear us out – when you’ve got a big-book-style catalog sitting on your desk, it’s hard to forget that it exists. Sure, it’s also hard to search through it and even more difficult to quickly share what you found with clients, but it will stay top-of-mind. (Assuming it stays on top of the growing piles of catalogs all vying for the same place on your desk.)

Where Digital Excels


There’s no denying that fluctuating prices have been one of the biggest thorns in the side of our industry since 2020. Once a 400+ page catalog has gone to print, it might as well be carved in stone, but if you need to update the pricing in a digital catalog? All you have to do is contact us with your new data. Bam. Easy peasy. 

Ease of Sharing

How much would it cost you to ship 5000 print catalogs? Go ahead and ballpark it. Now, how much would it cost you to send an email blast to 5000 people? I don’t care what number you came up with for the shipping cost, an email is exponentially cheaper. And that’s just for a wide release. 

A digital catalog or flyer can be shared over social media, email, or even text messages. Plus, when it’s digital, you can link directly to a specific page of the catalog. Heck, you could even clip a product from a page and send that directly to your client.

How’s that better than linking to the product on your website? Well, we have a whole article on when using a breakout catalog or lookbook is better than using your website, but also keep in mind that if you link to a page in a catalog, your client will have more context. They’ll not only see the product you’re suggesting, but they’ll also see all of the other products on the page, which will inspire more ideas for them and more business for you.


You can’t click on print, but digital catalogs have amazing opportunities for interactivity. Want to add external links that will take people directly to an ordering page on your website? Check out our help article. Have an awesome video you want to integrate into your catalog? You can do that. (Product and lifestyle videos are underutilized in promo marketing materials–only 12% of suppliers we surveyed are using video inside their digital catalogs.)

There as so many different ways to make your digital materials work for you. If you need help getting started with video, check out these articles from the Trends archives:

One More Thing

Here’s the final thing about marketing and sales materials – even if you’re going to print them, it never hurts to have a digital version as well. Put a link to your ZOOMcatalogs on your business card. Have a QR Code at your tradeshow booth. Keep the URL in your email signature. It’s just one more touch point for your customers.

Check out our digital series on how companies are Going Digital, and contact us if you want more help getting the most out of your digital experience.