You may use your GPS to get from Point A to Point B, but maps can be very helpful in showing the exact location of your destination. In print marketing materials, a good map can be a way to illustrate where you’re located for those just needing a quick overview. In fact, many businesses still use simple maps for flyers, brochures, postcards and other handouts. This is especially true if customers need to navigate a specific area, such as a park or college campus. Fortunately, with so many software solutions available, it’s never been easier to create an eye-catching map.

Making a Map for a Brochure

A brochure is a popular marketing handout since it can pack a great deal of information into a small space. You’ll print your information on both sides of a page, then fold it into three or more panels, depending on the page size and fold style you choose. You can choose a tri-fold, a Z-fold, an accordion fold, a four-panel fold, a half fold, a quarter fold or a gatefold. Most graphic design programs will walk you through choosing the fold style to match the page size you choose.

Before you create a map for your brochure, you’ll need to understand your goals. A map brochure is solely for the purpose of giving directions. You’ll see these at tourist welcome centers and national parks, among other places. Often, these brochures will use multiple panels for a detailed map. But if you’re just trying to show where you’re located in town, a small graphic on the panel with your address will suffice. You can supplement the map with driving directions if it can be summed up simply or if your location is difficult to find.

Making a Map for a Flyer

A map brochure is only one marketing use of maps. A flyer is a one-sheet print item that you can hand out or hang on bulletin boards around town. One of the biggest benefits of simple maps for flyers is that you can print them in-house, saving money. That also means you can print on demand, only making as many copies as you need and updating your design in between printings.

Another benefit of a flyer is that it gives you extra room for your map. On a brochure, you’ll have only a portion of one panel, but a map on a brochure can take up the entire page if you want. Chances are, you’ll have plenty more to say on that flyer, but if your only goal for the flyer is to provide directions ­– perhaps as a handout to those trying to find a building on your property – you have that luxury.

Making a Map for a Postcard

Postcards are popular with print marketers for good reason. They can easily be mass mailed, which makes them ideal if you’re trying to reach a large number of customers in a localized area. Unlike simple maps for flyers, though, you won’t have unlimited real estate when it comes to building your map. This is especially true if you’re trying to squeeze it in on the side of the postcard that contains the recipient’s address and postage. You’ll struggle to fit it in that space while still ensuring it’s readable.

A better option may be to use all or part of the message side of your postcard to include your map. You can make it full-size if your goal is to get across where you’re located. This is generally the case when a business has moved recently. However, in most cases, you’ll probably want to add a message with that map, at which point you’ll still be challenged to fit the map in a small space while still ensuring it’s legible. In that instance, you’ll likely find that it’s best for simply showing where you're located on a very pared-down version of a zoomed-in map.

Making a Map for a Website

As popular as a map brochure or flyer may be, you’ll most often find maps on websites these days. The good news is that you have fewer space concerns when creating a map for your website. Your visitors can always click and enlarge it if they need to see more detail. You can also use a tool like MapQuest to allow visitors to enter their street address and get directions specific to where they are.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to add a map to your website, though, is to use Google Maps’ tool to embed a map in your website. You’ll just need to create a map with the marker that shows your business’ location and then copy the HTML code to your website. As long as you know how to use the HTML feature on your website, you won’t need a developer to do it. If you use a do-it-yourself web tool, you can also check to see if there’s a plug-in that will add a map to your site.

Creating Your Map Using Software

Even if you aren’t a graphic designer, there are tools available that can help you create a map. If you’re graphic design savvy, you can use an advanced tool like Adobe Photoshop. But there are also map creators that will walk you through the process and output an attractive graphic that you can use on any of your marketing materials. There are also online map creation tools like Snazzy Maps, which is designed to work with Google Maps, or Scribble Maps, which lets you draw and make notations on your map before saving it. Many of these solutions are free, so shop around to find one that fits the style and price you need.

If you’re trying to design simple maps for flyers, a good image may simply be a matter of downloading the map you get when you use a site like Google Maps or MapQuest. You can download the map as an image or, if that isn’t allowed, take a screenshot of it. Check to make sure the image is high quality enough to display clearly when you print it. If you’re printing on thicker paper or using a professional printer, you may find that the image isn’t clear enough to achieve your desired result.

Getting Your Map Printed

Before you start designing your map, you’ll want to research your print options if you don’t already have a service lined up. There are plenty of online printers, including UPrinting and GotPrint, all of which can turn your uploaded files into print items. However, these services can have long turnaround times unless you’re willing to pay for a rush job, so be sure to plan ahead.

If you find you’ll regularly be handing out map brochures and flyers, it may be worth finding a local printer that can provide faster service than online companies that will have to ship your items to you. This will also save you postage over time. If you’re simply wanting to print a small number of items to test how effective they are, you can also try a local service like Staples or Office Depot, although they can be more expensive if you’re printing in larger quantities, so this may not be a long-term option. Be sure to regularly update your map to account for changing landmarks or customer feedback.