Archive for May, 2010

Simple Changes Make the Common Uncommon

May 21, 2010

How many common printing items – newsletters, post cards, brochures, note pads, note cards, thank you notes – do you routinely use for communicating with customers and prospects? How long has it been since you looked at those items with a fresh eye?

If you were to lay everything out on a table, would the company name, logo, and contact information be consistently displayed on each item? Do fonts change from item to item? Is the company’s web site on each piece? These consistencies are the elements of brand identity and are important no matter what your company size or location or how many items you routinely print.

But while it is important to maintain consistency and predictability for your brand identity, it can be refreshing to move away from conformity in the size and shape of common printing items. In this issue of Printips we’ll offer a few simple changes that will make common printing items eye-catching and unique.

Printing Paper and the Environment

May 20, 2010

As printers, we have a special relationship to paper. Far more than appreciating its beauty, we understand its physical properties so we know how it will react to a specific set of production conditions. We know the latest trends in colors and finishes and whether new papers are being manufactured in response to new printing devices. We know the price of paper, and whether it is scarce or readily available.

Because paper is so integral to what we do, many of us learn its history and manufacturing process. And lately we’ve also been learning about paper’s impact on the environment.

For Now and Forever… The Importance of Advertising

May 19, 2010

Have you noticed that despite the economic downturn, we are still sending you our newsletter every month? If you’re a customer of ours, you know we won’t stop building the relationship and providing useful information even though we’re watching our expenditures closely just as you are.

What we have learned is this: that in volatile economic times, businesses that continue to advertise and engage in proactive marketing do better during the economic downturn and position themselves to prosper when the economy recovers.

You don’t have to take our word for it. In 2001 noted researchers Yankelovich Partners and Harris Interactive conducted a survey of 505 key executives across all major business segments.

Here are some of the major findings:

Helping You Help Us… A Guide to Print Specifications

May 18, 2010

Consistency. This is our aim as we work on each order you place with us. The same paper, the same colors, the same fold, the same binding, each order matching all previous ones. We think you’ll agree that we’re pretty good at it. So how do we achieve this consistency from order to order? By following the same set of specifications each time we do the job.

Specifications are a way to describe unambiguously how the finished order should appear and can include the smallest detail (such as how the order is to be packaged and shipped). As printers, specifications are as important to us as a set of plans is to a building contractor. In fact, at TechneGraphics, our production manager reviews the specifications on every order to be sure they are clear, understandable, and unambiguous. If anything is missing or in question, the order is not placed into production until the specifications are perfect.

Layout Basics… a Design Clinic

May 17, 2010

We often use Printips to share information about graphic design. Our purpose for this is simple: the more you know about good graphic design, the better you’ll be able to analyze your organization’s sales and marketing materials for effectiveness.

There is a significant correlation between the success – or failure – of marketing material and how well the information in it is presented and organized. So pull out a flyer or advertisement or product information sheet and follow along as we review the basics of page layout.

There are four basic elements that are the building blocks of page design:
• The headline establishes the purpose of the page;
• The copy provides the facts, features and benefits;
• A visual element like a photograph or graphic illustrates the copy;
• The signature contains the company’s name, logo, and contact information.

To make the elements work effectively, they must be organized to consider hierarchy—the ranking of elements on the page by importance – and reader eye flow, a description of how the reader’s eye moves around on the page.

Graphic Design for Print and Web

May 16, 2010

First we thought the PC was a calculator. Then we found out how to turn numbers into letters with ASCII — and we thought it was a typewriter. Then we discovered graphics, and we thought it was a television. With the World Wide Web, we’ve realized it’s a brochure.
— Douglas Noel Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

As digital technology evolved from graphic design to page layout to web design, graphic artists adapted software tools and design principles to work in the new discipline. Initially, many designers with roots in graphic design for print migrated to the less controllable and more fluid design environment of the World Wide Web while retaining skills in design for print.

Today the situation is different. A graphic designer may train only for web design and have no experience with print. And even though design for print and design for web both must consider how to display text and graphics, how to use color and typography, and how to guide the reader around the page, the two design environments are very different. To be successful, today’s graphic designer must either understand the requirements for design in each, or limit their activities to web or print.

In this issue of Printips we’ll discuss three primary differences between the two environments and explain why what works in one may not work in the other.

Sticking Together… Useful Facts About Labels

May 15, 2010

Whether you use them for product identification or shipping, for security or promotion, or for any other use, labels are a part of every business’s inventory of printed items. The earliest use of labels was for product identification; uses now include a wide range of applications across many industries.

We’ll begin our discussion of labels with a semantics question: what is the difference between a label, a sticker, and a decal? Since many people use the terms interchangeably, we think there’s no obvious answer beyond common usage.

• When adhered to a product (such as a soup can or a piece of fruit) as a means of identifying or providing information about the product, we most often refer to the item as a label.

• When affixed to something (the bumper of a car, the front of a package, or a voter leaving the polls) in order to call attention to what is written on it, we refer to the item as a sticker.

• When the item can be moved from one surface (the substrate it is printed on) to another (a window, a model airplane,), usually with the aid of heat or water, we refer to the item as a decal.

Use Our Print Tips to Manage Your Printing Cost

May 14, 2010

If you regularly buy printing for your company or organization, you likely have a budget to meet. Whether you are ordering business stationery, functional forms and documents, or image pieces for sales and marketing, you always want to be sure you are managing the budget to get the most for your money.

We hope you won’t be surprised to learn that we have the same objective – to be sure the printed materials we provide to you are produced on time, on budget, and looking exactly as you expected. Making this happen requires a partnership between us, and in this issue, we’re going to explore some ways to ensure consistent and dependable pricing.

Marketing on a Budget: How to Promote for Pennies

May 13, 2010

Whether you are a large or small business; whether your organization is for-profit or non-profit; regardless of what product or service you offer in the marketplace, some part of your regular activities has to include promoting. To be successful, your business or organization must interact with those you intend to serve – your clients, customers, patrons, members, subscribers, donors, or users – and must be constantly seeking to attract the attention of those who can benefit from what you offer.

Businesses are comfortable talking about this process as a selling system – a way of regularly interacting and connecting with customers and prospects. And though organizations, particularly non-profits, may have difficulty seeing their outreach activities as a selling system, it actually fits a broad definition.

People buy from people. People join or give because someone asked. That means that ultimately success comes from people connecting to people. So how can a business or organization set about making a connection, particularly with a stranger? The answer is simple — by regularly engaging in unobtrusive outreach activities.

Growing in Tough Times… Marketing Activities That Work

May 12, 2010

To stay viable, all businesses and organizations must grow, and that means continually attracting and retaining new customers. This is especially important in difficult economic times when core customers may be working with smaller budgets or implementing cutbacks. Rather than being overcome by a downturn in customer buying patterns, in lean times experienced marketers put forth more effort to stay in touch with existing customers and prospect for new ones.

For most small and medium-sized businesses and organizations, marketing means engaging in activities that provide significant value for customers, promote customer satisfaction, and result in customer retention. Seen this way, marketing is much more of an operational than strategic function and is centered on the customer and his needs rather than the company and its products or services.