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How the 4 P’s of Branding Can Transform Your Print Marketing

digital printingThe “four P’s” of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) have influenced campaign after campaign for years, and they’re certainly still relevant. But if you’re trying to make relatable and effective print marketing materials, then the four P’s of branding might actually be more useful to you. Here’s how you can think about incorporating your company’s purpose, promise, personality and platform into print marketing:

  1. Purpose

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a teeny-tiny postcard or a giant banner; the hardest part of print marketing is often editing down everything you have to say into a concise statement that will mean something to the reader. Clearly defining your business’ purpose — a one-sentence explanation of why your business exists — can help you do that. Even if the statement itself doesn’t make it onto the final product, you should compare every element you’re considering against your purpose. If they don’t fit together, then your marketing materials aren’t reflecting your company the way they should.

  2. Promise

    Your promise is what you can offer to your customers, and is essentially another way of thinking about your unique selling proposition. You have to be able to highlight not only what it is that you offer, but what you offer that other companies can’t. You might sell widgets, but what makes them different from your competitor’s widgets? Keep in mind when making promises that consumers aren’t as forgiving with companies as they are with politicians — once you make promises, you must expect to keep them.

  3. Personality

    Brands have personalities, just like people do, and you want your brand to appeal to people on an emotional level. Are you easygoing and likeable? Are you edgy and forward-thinking? Are you professional and traditional? Are you quirky and fun? Research what your target market prefers, and then project it. When it comes to print marketing, one of the strongest ways to convey personality is through choices of colors, fonts, graphics and images. That’s why it’s so important to work with a qualified graphic designer or marketer who has a solid understanding of how design choices affect people’s psychology. Especially if you’re creating marketing materials designed to draw in passers-by, you’ll have only a few seconds to make an impression.

  4. Platform

    This is where the technical details come in. The physical distribution of your purpose, promise and personality matter, and that means choosing a top-quality commercial printing company that can ensure that the print product you end up with reflects the quality and care you offer your customers. For small businesses, a digital printing company will probably be best; digital printing generally allows for lower minimum quantities than offset printing, has a quicker turnaround, is more accurate, and has fewer variations because ink and water don’t have to be manually balanced throughout the run. Digital printing is also the most affordable way to print customized materials such as direct mailers and letters. But no matter what printing techniques you choose, the final product should be representative of your brand.

How else can brands increase the effectiveness of their print marketing materials? Discuss in the comments.

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The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make With Print Marketing

commercial printing

Digital marketing may get more attention these days, but print marketing is still an important part of promoting businesses of all sizes. More than three quarters — 76% — of small businesses say that ideally, their marketing strategy would incorporate both digital and print communication. Because print marketing has been around for a while, there’s quite a bit of evidence of what works. For example, 84% of Americans will remember a company’s name if they receive a branded promotional gift bearing that company’s logo. There’s also evidence of what doesn’t work for print marketing. If you’re planning a print campaign, keep in mind these five mistakes that can cost your business big time:

  1. Not Defining a Specific Target Market

    The biggest mistake people make in marketing, across the board, is failing to define their target market and research that audience. You might hope that everyone will want to buy your product or become a client, but when it comes to getting a return on your advertising dollars, specificity is key. When it comes to types of advertising that are given directly to people, rather than simply displayed (think direct mailers, as opposed to banners or online ads), then brainstorming and researching in advance become even more important cost-wise.

  2. Not Creating a Consistent Campaign

    No matter what your goal is with a specific print marketing campaign, each and every aspect of a marketing plan must be consistent with your brand image. People’s eyes like consistency because it then takes less work for their brains to make the connections between what they’re seeing and what they’ve seen in the past; being recognizable is an important part of marketing your company as a whole.

  3. Not Investing in Quality Materials

    If your print materials look cheap, your company looks cheap. This is one reason why using a commercial printing company that can offer you high-quality products is so important; commercial printing services can create materials you could never match on your company’s office printer. Also keep in mind that digital commercial printing opens up options for unique applications, including special paper, specialty finishes, alternate printing surfaces or unusual sizing, so you may want to investigate using a digital printing company.

  4. Not Remembering Repeat Customers

    Typically, 80% of a company’s business comes from repeat customers. So while a direct mail marketing campaign or outdoor banners designed to bring in new customers are part of a good marketing plan, you shouldn’t forget to build loyalty among your existing customers with custom promotional gifts and similar tactics.

  5. Not Doing Sufficient Editing

    There are two elements to the editing that should occur on all print marketing materials. The first has to do with volume; you should scrutinize each individual aspect of promotional materials and decide whether it’s contributing to the overall message. The less prospective customers’ brains need to process, the better. And second, proofreading is an absolutely essential part of creating printed materials. The time to read carefully is before 10,000 copies have been printed.

Have you ever worked on a print marketing campaign? Share what went well and what you wish you could change in the comments.

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3 Ways Print Marketing Can Refresh Your Brand’s Image

When companies are looking to refresh their image, they often turn to the Internet first. But the reality is that quality commercial printing is still one of the strongest ways to build brand awareness and draw in new customers. If you feel your business is languishing, consider one of these three strategies — or a combination of all three — to give it a boost:

  1. Think Bigger
    If you want to create a bold new campaign that sets you apart from your competitors, wide format printing (also called large format printing) is one way to make your printed materials stand out. Wide format printing might take the form of advertising banners — vinyl banners are a popular choice because they’re lightweight, durable, and easy to hang and rehang indoors or outdoors — barricade or building wraps, even vehicle wraps.There are a few specific design concerns to keep in mind when you’re anticipating wide format printing of a project (you can look at past entries in this blog for some easy-to-follow tips), but in general the idea is simple: Grab people’s attention and then share a simple impression or message they’ll remember long after they walk or drive past.
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  3. Give ‘Em What They Want
    One basic marketing principle that always rings true, even when inelegantly stated, is that people love free stuff. If you’re looking to build brand awareness, then promotional gifts are a solid strategy. Research shows that 84% of Americans who receive a gift bearing a company’s logo are able to recall the company’s name later.Print companies offer a wide variety of materials that can be branded as gifts. Think calendars, bookmarks, water bottles, coffee mugs and other useful items that people will carry with them in their daily lives. Not only might they consider becoming regular customers of your company, they’ll spread your brand as they simply go about their daily routines while using your gift.
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  5. Try Some Classics
    Don’t be so focused on keeping up with the times that you eschew older strategies that have been proven to work, such as direct mailers. In contrast to large ads, this is a focused strategy designed to hone in on your target audience and persuade them to give your company a shot.Direct mailers have been around for a long time, but modern printing methods have made them much easier to design and affordable to print. Digital printing companies can offer the most cost-effective ways to customize these marketing materials, since each one will need a unique name, address and code.

Which of these strategies appeals to you the most? Wide format printing projects? More focused efforts such as direct mailers? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Avoid These 3 Common Large Format Printing Mistakes

large format printing

Large format printing offers businesses some great options when it comes to outdoor advertising sure to stop passers-by in their tracks. You might want to start with advertising banners; these vinyl banners are lightweight, easily hung inside or outside, and reusable. They’re also highly customizable in terms of graphics, colors and sizes. If an advertising banner is too blasé for your company’s strategy, you can go for high impact with barricade or building wraps. These have a relatively low cost per square foot when compared to their advertising value, and can even reduce air and moisture infiltration into your building.

But designing for large format printing can be tricky no matter what the project is, especially if you lack significant design experience. The best option, if your company has the budget for it, is to work with a professional graphic designer who has a background in designing for commercial printing companies. But if you’re small enough that you need to keep your design process in-house, make sure you at least avoid these three common mistakes:

  1. Readability Problems: 
    In general, you should add an inch of height to your type size for every 10 feet of distance between the ad and your intended audience (10 inches is ideal for 100 feet, and so forth). Typography can add visual interest to your design, so you shouldn’t stick to Comic Sans. But some fonts can be extremely difficult to read at distances, even if appropriately sized. Whatever it is that you’re trying to convey (whether that’s professionalism or whimsy), you’ll probably want to find the simplest possible font that has the qualities you’re looking for. After all, what good is a large format sign if no one can read it? Also make sure that you don’t have too much text and that multiple lines of text have plenty of space between them.
  2. Poor Color Choices: 
    When it comes to large format printing, impact is the ultimate goal. That means that sticking to high-contrast, easy-to-achieve colors can be better in the long run than going through every single Pantone shade for the perfect robin’s-egg blue. Some research shows that yellow and blue have the highest impact of any color combination. In most cases, you’ll want to stick to two or three colors.
  3. Low Image Quality:
    Even the best large format printing services can’t perform miracles; if you’re trying to use a 3×5 image blown up for a 15-foot banner, you’re going to run into some trouble. Take some time to educate yourself on DPI and check with your print company about image resolution before finalizing your design. You should also use a vector-based design program if possible to ensure all your graphic elements are scalable.

Do you have any other tips for designing for large format printing? Add them or ask questions in the comments.

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The 3 Things to Prioritize When Choosing a Print Company

There are a lot of print companies out there, and as a business it can be overwhelming to choose one. But, as in most business decisions, it all comes down to a combination of quality and price. Here’s what you should look for when you’re vetting printing companies:

  1. Digital and Offset Printing Services
    There are two basic types of printing: digital and offset. Digital printing prints directly from computer files, whereas offset printing uses custom plates to apply ink onto paper (or whatever else you’re having printed). Some people settle for digital printing companies, assuming that will get them lower prices across the board, but it’s actually best to find a print company that has both capabilities. Digital printing offers many advantages, especially for small businesses, since it allows for an extremely affordable way to customize pieces that have unique codes or addresses (direct mailers, letters, etc.). It also skips expensive setup fees and allows for lower minimum runs.

    But offset printing still has a place in the industry, and it may even be more cost effective for businesses who need thousands of identical copies of a project. The bottom line is that by choosing a company that offers both offset and digital printing techniques, you can rely on the print company representatives to help you choose which method is truly the best for your product, since they won’t have a vested interested in pressuring you toward one or the other.
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  3. History and Expertise
    Whether you end up using offset or digital printing, there’s a lot more to high-quality results than running sheets of paper through a machine. Inquire about the training employees of each print company, and look at the history of the business. If they’ve been in business for a long time, keeping up with the newest techniques throughout that whole period, then it’s likely they’ll guide you in the right direction and handle your project well.

    Reviews or samples may be helpful, but keep in mind that projects may vary widely in terms of the desired outcome. You should focus more on the skill levels of the printers and the customer service quality of the company as a whole than on whether you like individual examples of past work.
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  5. A Wide Variety of Services
    Today, you might be looking to print direct mail pieces. But what if soon, next week or next month, you need large format printing services to make a banner or sign? If you don’t want to start your search for the perfect print company all over again, it’s best to choose one now that offers a wide variety of services.

    The other advantage to this is that you can actually build a relationship with the print company. These kinds of business-to-business connections end up benefiting both companies, and that way you’ll know for years to come that you’re getting the best possible quality and price on all your projects.

It’s also good to keep in mind that although most companies operate online as well, and there’s no geographical barrier to working with a print company located hundreds or even thousands of miles away, it’s generally smarter to stick to a company in your area. You’ll pay less in delivery fees, have fewer customer service headaches, and even support your local economy while you’re at it.

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