Tag Archives: Commercial Printing

5 Steps to Great Print Planning

Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. Here are 5 steps to ensuring that everything goes smoothly and on budget.

  1. What is the goal of the printed piece?

Is the goal of the piece to entertain or inform? To impress? Your marketing goals influence the design and quality of the piece. Certain ideas may have a significant impact on turnaround or cost. For example, some binding options can take extra time, and certain trim sizes might incur extra expense. Paper choices can also affect the project cost and turnaround time.

  1. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece?

If you are designing a flyer for a theatrical opening, it will look different than one promoting a rock concert. People read a book differently than they read a poster. Before setting anything in stone, talk to us to determine how your design decisions can affect the project budget and schedule.

  1. How many suppliers are involved?

Take into account the schedules of any outside service providers. For example, if you are using a freelance illustrator or label designer, you need to take his or her availability into consideration. If you’re adhering a label to a bottle, you need to work with the bottle company to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them.

  1. When does the piece need to arrive?

Always plan backwards from the delivery date. It’s particularly important to involve us in this part of the planning process so we can schedule your project. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, your project needs gets to press in time to meet your deadline. If not, your job may get rescheduled behind other jobs, and especially if those jobs are large or complex, that can affect its mail or delivery date significantly.

  1. How much “fudge” do you need?

Finally, you need to incorporate “fudge factor.” Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need.

The moral of the story? Good print planning starts with communicating early—and often.

5 Tips to Selecting Images that Win Customers

Do you have the right images to reinforce your message and engage your target audience? Let’s look at a few ideas to help you select photos and illustrations that help to achieve your campaign objectives.

  1. Mirror your target audience. The quickest way to let your customers know your product is right for them is to use images reflecting the same demographic. A company promoting a new perfume might show a 35- to 44-year-old woman surrounded by admirers. A health club might use this same age demographic but change the image to athletic men and women.
  2. Empathize with your prospect. A working mother is anxiously looking at the clock as it approaches 5:00 p.m., wondering what she will serve for dinner. A man looks out the window of a crowded bus and sees the sign for a car dealership promoting good cars on limited budgets. Use images that empathize with your customers’ challenges.
  3. Demonstrate your value proposition. Illustrate how your product will help prospects solve a problem. A food chain promoting its carryout menu might present the working mother as she puts a hot, healthy meal on the table for her family. The car dealership could show the man from the bus speeding away in a clean and dependable vehicle.
  4. Be authentic. Instead of a stock photo of a multicultural team laughing together around the water cooler, incorporate likenesses of your own employees in real offices, or the actual delivery truck customers will see pulling up to their business or residence. If a prospect can believe in your pictures, he can believe in your words as well.
  5. Reinforce the message you intend to convey. Using images that reflect what people care about is a great way to engage customers and keep them coming back.

Need help selecting the right images? Let our top-notch designers help!

5 Updates to Freshen Up Direct Mail

Are you looking for ways to spice up your direct mail campaigns? Even if your response rates remain high, are you looking to freshen things up? Here are a few ways you can update your direct mailings and give them new appeal.

  1. Update the package.

Are you using the same envelopes you have for years? If so, change the color. Change the size. Add a personalized teaser on the front (“John, check this out!”). If you are selling high-value products, consider dimensional mail or novelty envelopes that look like UPS packages or USPS Priority Mail.

  1. Tweak your text.

Still using the same marketing text from last year? Try a new approach. If you’ve been using an informational style, insert some humor. If you’ve been sending punchy one-liners, try adding more educational text.

  1. Freshen up the images.

How long have you been using that same picture of your headquarters? Is your headshot on the back of the postcard from the 1990s? Take a new company photo. Upload a current headshot with a fabulous smile. Or maybe you just want some new images as backgrounds or illustration.

  1. Add a new variable.

If you are personalizing your mailings, why not add a new variable? If you’ve been personalizing by name and gender, add age bracket or income. If you’ve been personalizing by ZIP Code and household income, refine by life stage.

Look for fresh, new ways to relate to customers and increase the relevance of the message.

  1. Try a new offer.

What incentive have you been using to get people to respond? 15% discount? If so, try 10% or 25%. Go crazy and try BOGO. How are you encouraging people to log into their personalized microsite? Entrance into a sweepstakes for a gift card? Try a set of concert tickets instead.

Mixing things up can be a great way to stay fresh and relevant, even when sending to the same audience. So get creative. Step outside the box and see what happens.

Need some ideas? Contact us. We can help!

Tips and Tricks for Selecting Colors

Color sells. It increases brand recognition, improves comprehension, and can motivate purchase decisions between products. Color also identifies. The United Parcel Service, IBM, and Home Depot are all synonymous with specific colors. Some companies even trademark colors as brand assets. Think Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue.

A study by G.A Wright Marketing found that the use of high-quality paper and color applications can increase response rates by nearly 50%. For example, the study showed that a four-color promotional mailer printed on heavy gloss paper stock had a more than 40% higher response rate than an identical three-color version printed on a lighter matte paper stock.

Colors summon emotions and create connections with the people surrounding your brand. Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow are associated with a range of emotions, from optimism and excitement to violence. Cool colors like green, violet, and blue can be calming and nurturing, but they can also be impersonal and antiseptic.

Choose colors that will elicit a positive response from recipients, then balance them in a visually appealing way. Using variations of a single color will create a visual effect that is classic and easy on the eyes, but not as vibrant as it could be. Enrich the scheme by introducing analogous colors, selecting three colors next to each other on the color wheel. Examples include red/orange/yellow; green/blue/purple; and yellow/yellow-green/green. Consistently use one shade as the dominant color.

For higher contrast, select a complementary color scheme, choosing colors across the wheel from each other. This works best when you place a warm color against a cool color, such as red and green, blue and orange, or purple and yellow. Any tint can be used. Midnight blue/tangerine and royal purple/gold are effective combinations.

Most any color mix can work as long as you retain harmony and richness in your presentation and avoid the hues used by your competitors.

Test combinations until you find the scheme that sends the message you want associated with your business. Your customers make split-second decisions based on color, so use it to your advantage.

Need help? Just ask!

Get Started with Print Personalization

Personalized print marketing gets results, but what if you’re a newcomer to the game? How do you get started? If you want to begin sending your customers relevant, personalized messages, here are three questions that will get you off to a great start.

What are your goals?

What are the goals of your campaign? Be specific. “To increase sales” isn’t sufficient. If you’re an auto dealership, your goal might be to get customers to schedule their 50,000-mile scheduled maintenance. For a bookstore, it might be to get customers to attend a book signing by a local author. Identify the specific action you want the customer to take.

What data do you have?

Do you have a customer database? If so, what’s in it? Do you have names and addresses only? Email addresses, past purchase history, or other demographics? Or do you need to start from scratch? If you need help understanding what data you have and how to use it, let us take a look. Once we understand what you’ve got, we will know whether you’re ready to start designing your personalized campaign, and if not, we can advise you in purchasing lists or appending your data to give you more fields to work with.

Who’s your audience?

Know your target audience. If you are selling women’s spa treatments, you don’t want the message to go to the men in your database unless you are prompting them to buy gifts for their wives. Likewise, you aren’t going to say “thanks for being a valued customer” to someone who hasn’t purchased from you in two years. You need to decide what cut of your database (or your target list) is going to receive your message.

Once you know how all the elements come together, you can begin crafting a personalization strategy that will reap big results. Need help? Give us a call. That’s why we’re here.