Archive for May, 2010

The Choice is Yours… Deciding Where to Buy Printing

May 31, 2010

Once upon a time there were relatively few places that a business, organization, or individual could go to buy printing. General commercial printers, as we were known back then, had large, noisy printing presses best suited to areas zoned for manufacturing and away from retail centers.

Technology changed that in the 1970s when small, clean presses and photo direct plate makers gave birth to the quick print segment of the printing industry. Quick printers could operate in a 2000 square foot retail storefront, readily visible from the street. Another shift in technology added copiers, then digital output devices that eliminated the need for chemicals to process press plates and run the presses. Now printing could be done in an environment less like a factory and more like an office.

Digital technology also enabled printers to expand their offerings beyond offset printing to include high speed digital printing (color and black and white), large format graphics, posters, banners, signs, and even mailing services – a complete range of services needed by businesses and organizations to communicate, market, and sell.

Trade Shows, Meetings, Seminars… YES, We Do That!

May 30, 2010

Reaching prospects is the #1 task for sales and marketing. Direct mail using post cards and brochures takes your message to prospects in their offices. But when there is an opportunity to reach a group of prospects at a meeting, seminar, conference, or trade show, you may need additional materials besides business cards and brochures.

Participating in an event for a group of prospects has three phases: preparing for the event, attending the event, and following up. In each phase there is a need for materials to be printed, distributed, and given away. These all need to be graphically coordinated to reflect your company or organization’s image or brand – especially since some of the staff at the event may not be seasoned marketing or sales professionals.

Begin by deciding on a marketing theme for the event. Tie it to your company’s overall marketing focus but tailor the theme to reflect the interests of the target audience who will be attending the group event. Some typical themes are how your product or service promotes efficiency and saves money; how it solves problems encountered by the target audience; what competitive advantage it imparts; or what enhancements to customer service it brings.

Planning Your Marketing… and Planning What You Print

May 29, 2010

The end of an old month/season/year and the beginning of a new one often brings out the introspective side of businesses and organizations. It is a good time to review the results of the past and plan for the future. And this kind of strategic planning naturally leads to developing the next marketing plan. Marketing refers to all the processes and activities associated with promoting the sale of products or services, with focus on acquiring new customers and satisfying existing ones.

While marketing plans for medium and large businesses can be very formal and based on extensive research and analysis, most small businesses and organizations use a simpler approach that often is defined by the amount of resources – money and people – available to carry it out.

Picture This… Using Images in Documents

May 28, 2010

Imagine a page of text describing a product offered for sale. Now imagine that same page with images of the product added. Even in your imagination there’s a difference – the image adds interest to the page and improves its appearance.

That’s the power of images, whether they are photographs, clip art, illustrations, charts, graphs, or symbols. To attract attention and improve reader comprehension, nothing beats an image.

An image has maximum effectiveness when it satisfies these four criteria: the image is worthy of being printed; it is of good quality; it is relevant to the text; and it is consistent with the design and layout of the document. In this issue of Printips we will focus on what makes a good quality digital image for print.

Taking it to the Street… How Good is Your Mailing List?

May 27, 2010

If you’re a regular reader of Printips, you know we strongly believe in the power of direct mail marketing as a way to build business. Keeping your company or organization’s name in front of customers helps to reinforce their decision to use your products and services; for prospects, it creates name recognition; and for both groups it builds top of mind awareness for your brand.

The success of any direct mail marketing campaign is determined by three factors: the quality of the mail piece itself; the offer; and the mailing list. Of these, the mailing list is significantly more important than the other two. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association attributes 60% of the success of a mailing to the list itself and just 20% each to the mailer and the offer.

Expand Your Marketing… Reach Out with a Newsletter

May 26, 2010

Every company or organization has an arsenal of marketing tools that share common characteristics: to introduce the company or organization to prospective customers; to describe the products and services offered and how they benefit the prospect; to show how your company or organization differs from the competition; and to create a favorable impression. Brochures, direct mail, a web site, press releases, and a newsletter are all examples of common marketing tools. Of these, a newsletter has the added benefit of demonstrating your expertise and establishing you as an authority.

Readers expect marketing newsletters to be informative, easy to read, and to contain useful tips. This is the basis for establishing credibility in the mind of the reader and inspires trust and understanding that is the basis of a business relationship. When distributed at trade shows, networking groups, meetings, and seminars, newsletters lend their credibility to brochures and other marketing materials.

Newsletters are also a great way to establish regular contact with customers. The same helpful information and useful tips that prospects appreciate are also valued by customers. In addition, the newsletter reminds customers about your company or organization and provides a way to announce coming events, activities, or new products and services.

Considering all the benefits of publishing a newsletter, it is surprising that so few businesses do so. This leads to another benefit: publishing a newsletter separates you from your competition.

Topping It All Off… Coatings on Paper and Printing

May 25, 2010

When deciding on the paper to use for marketing materials such as a brochure or sell sheet, many of our customers tell us, “I’d like a shiny paper; it looks so professional.” We’re not sure how this association between shiny paper – which we printers refer to as coated paper – got started, but we have a theory.

Full color printing requires a smooth, uniform paper surface and so is almost always done on a sheet that has had a coating applied during the manufacturing process. The purpose of the coating is to improve the way the surface of the sheet receives the ink, and it works! Full color printing on a coated sheet looks sharp and bright – in a word, professional.

PDF in Print. File Submission Made Easy

May 24, 2010

Regular readers of Printips know that over the years we’ve consistently recommended PDF as the file format of choice for printed documents. We were early adopters because of the significant benefits to our customers that extended beyond print to data exchange, archiving, and publishing on the Internet. Because of these benefits, PDF is now firmly established as the worldwide standard for many diverse applications.

Do It Yourself Printing… Pluses and Pitfalls

May 23, 2010

Once upon a time, printing equipment was big, noisy, dirty, expensive, hard to operate, and therefore impractical for most businesses to own. When copies of documents were needed, they were made using carbon paper or mimeograph and ditto machines.

Things began to change in 1959 with the introduction of the first plain paper copier – the Xerox 914 – and continued with the invention of laser printers, color copiers, and desktop publishing systems. Today’s modern office couldn’t operate efficiently without its desktop laser printers and copy machines.

So does all this internal printing capability mean that it is faster, better, or cheaper to “do it yourself” rather than having a commercial printer do the work? Or are there some overlooked costs and other issues that should be considered? In this issue of Printips we’ll explore these topics.

My Word… Copywriting Skills for Business

May 22, 2010

A fundamental skill for all businesses and organizations is to use language effectively in sales and marketing materials. The task of creating the text for these materials is known as copywriting. The purpose of copywriting is to persuade the reader to act – to respond to an advertisement, to buy a product or service, to donate to a cause, to join an organization.

Copywriting is part of direct mail marketing post cards, self-mailers and sales letters; display advertisements; brochures; press releases; white papers; catalogs; and all other marketing communications material. Copywriting differs from technical and business writing because it is persuasive rather than expository. Like technical or business writers, copywriters may present information, but their primary goal is to influence the behavior of readers. Copywriting can also violate the rules for standard business writing to achieve a desired effect or to make the writing more interesting.