4 Things You Should Know About Direct Mail

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Some types of traditional outbound marketing can be pretty pricey. Simple outdoor advertising costs 80% less than TV ads, 60% less than newspaper ads and 50% less than radio ads. There’s still one form of traditional advertising that’s worth talking to printing companies about, however: direct mail.

Here’s what you need to know about it:

  • Consumers Like Getting Postal Mail
    People like getting mail, and that gives direct mail an advantage. One survey found that 62% of Americans and 63% of Canadians enjoy checking their mailboxes — that’s a response you’re probably not going to get for email. Moreover, direct mail is less intrusive than other forms of advertising, which may lead consumers to view it in a more positive light. A full 73% of U.S. consumers and 67% of Canadians said they prefer brand communication through direct mail because they can peruse it at their convenience.

  • Digital Printing Has Made It Affordable
    You’ll need to spend some money on other aspects of your campaign, perhaps, but you should know that actually working with commercial printing companies may not be cost prohibitive. The rise of digital printing companies has made the printing of items with unique properties (such as addresses) much more affordable than it was in the past with offset printing.

  • The Quality of Your Mailer Matters
    If you want to catch the eye of potential customers, you have to put out more than a plain old flier. If your brand communications look slapdash, then so does your business, and that’s something you definitely don’t want to convey. That’s one reason — aside from the vastly increased customer support — that it’s worth working with professional printing companies.

  • It May Take More Than One Round
    Direct mail is effective, but it often requires follow-up to actually close leads. When you’re first looking at printing companies and making up your budget, ensure that you factor in a second round of mailings (or plan to follow up another way, such as by phone).

Do you have any tips on vetting printing companies or working with printing companies on direct mailers? Discuss in the comments.

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How to Get a Better ROI on Your Custom Printed Graphics

custom printed graphicsWhen it comes to print-based marketing, custom printed graphics are one of the best ways to build your brand image and give a creative, high-end impression of your company. But it’s likely you’re not using custom graphics to their fullest potential if all you’re doing is having some signs made up with your logo. Here are some strategies that could give you a better payoff:

  1. Going Much Bigger
    Wide format printing can take your custom printed graphics to the next level. That could be in a fairly traditional format, such as a vinyl banner — popular because they’re lightweight and durable, and therefore easy to hang and re-hang in a variety of places in or outdoors — but you can also think in terms of building wraps or any other super large format projects.
  2. Off-the-Wall Thinking
    When you’re thinking about how to use custom printed graphics in branding company space, such as a storefront, your thoughts might immediately turn to walls and windows. Those are great choices, but you shouldn’t forget about horizontal surfaces — essentially, your floors and ceilings — either. The point of great marketing is to be memorable, so it’s good to think outside the box when it comes to the placement of your custom printed graphics.
  3. Expanding Distribution
    If you’ve created some interesting custom printed graphics, then it shouldn’t be too hard to turn your customers into an extension of your marketing plan. Once you have a great design, experiment with putting it on items that people like to wear, carry with them or decorate with, such as hoodies, travel coffee mugs or vinyl decals. Custom printed items have been shown to be a great brand-builder; 84% of Americans will retain a company’s name after receiving a promotional gift bearing its logo.
  4. More Personalization
    Everyone likes personalized items, and digital printing is now making that even easier: Digital printing offers a very affordable way to customize any type of marketing material, whether they are letters and direct mailers or something more creative.
  5. Better Design
    If you’ve tried all these strategies in the past but haven’t seen the return you’d like on your custom printed graphics, then it may be time to face a hard fact: that the design simply isn’t as compelling as you think. The good news is that there are many professionals out there who can help you come up with a better design. Your print company may even offer in-house designers so that you can get your custom printed graphics designed and produced with a minimum of fuss.

Do you have any tips on designing custom printed graphics, or on how to get a better ROI for custom printed graphics? Join the discussion in the comments.

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8 Printing Terms That Can Help You Make Smarter Decisions for Your Business

banner printing serviceBusinesses use many types of print projects in their marketing efforts and everyday operations, ranging from fliers and business cards to posters, billboards and banner printing services. But choosing the right company to handle these projects — and getting a good deal on them — can rely heavily on knowing the terms that printers use to discuss printing techniques and pricing models. Here are the top eight printing terms all businesspeople should know, whether they’re looking for internal training materials, promotional banner printing services or something in between:

  1. Offset Printing
    Offset printing, also called offset lithography, is the traditional printing process in which custom plates and printing blankets are used to transfer ink onto the paper or other printing surface.
  2. Digital Printing
    Digital printing is a process that does not use analog media to transfer ink, but rather creates prints directly from digital files. This means that it can insert unique information, making it the best choice for products using codes, names or addresses.
  3. Minimum Run
    Some printing companies will set a minimum quantity of prints for each project. This number is generally much lower for digital printing than it is for offset printing, which is why the former is becoming such a popular choice in the business world.
  4. Setup Fee
    A setup fee is generally charged for offset printing jobs to cover the creation of the custom plates and blankets.
  5. Price Per Piece/Unit
    This is the price that is applied to each individual print of a project. It may be the same no matter the size of the run, or be lower for higher runs. The price per piece is generally higher for digital printing than for offset printing.
  6. Large/Wide Format Printing
    Large or wide format printing generally refers to any projects between 18 and 100 inches in size. Projects even larger than this are often referred to as “grand” or “super wide” format.
  7. Banner Printing Services
    Banner printing services are a subset of large format printing that deserve extra mention due to their many uses in business applications. Vinyl banners allow for a high degree of freedom, being customizable in design, colors and sizes. The term “banner” covers not only hung banners, but also pop-up banners fitted onto frames.
  8. CMYK
    CMYK printing indicates a four-color process (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) used to produce an entire spectrum of colors. The k stands for “key,” referring to black.

What kind of project or banner printing services are you looking for? Use the comments to discuss these and any other terms you’ve come across.

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3 Ways Vinyl Banners Can Increase Your Brand’s Visibility

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Even if your business is small, you shouldn’t discount custom printing as a powerful branding tool; more than three-fourths (76%) of small businesses say that ideally, their marketing strategy would combine both digital and print communication strategies. And if you’re looking to brand your business while getting the most bang for your buck, banner printing services deserve your consideration. Vinyl banners are highly customizable, with commercial printing companies generally letting you choose your own size, color and design, allowing you to get the look you want for less than standard fixed signs.

Vinyl banners are also appropriate for many situations, and can be moved from place to place and easily hung both inside and outside due to their light weight. Here are three situations in which you might consider using a vinyl banner, and why:

  1. Corporate Events or Exhibitions
    When your business attends busy trade shows or hiring fairs, a well-branded booth can draw higher-end clients or more qualified applicants to your table. While a hanging banner across the front of your table might be effective for those who are quite close, the crowds can obscure something displayed at waist level. Instead, consider vertical pop-up banners that sit on either side of your display. And since such pop-up banners are easily packed away and stored, you’ll be able to use them at event after event.
  2. Campaigns or Temporary Sales
    If you’re working on a specific campaign or one-time sales, other types of large-scale print media may be too expensive to justify the investment. Vinyl banners, however, can give you a sleek and professional look at a low cost, making them a good choice even if you don’t intend to reuse them time and time again. They also hold up well to outdoor conditions; if your locale is particularly windy, you might consider custom printing your banners on vinyl mesh, rather than standard vinyl.
  3. Special or Formal Social Events
    Large vinyl photo backdrops can be used to give any event some red-carpet glamour — even if you’re on a tight budget. Depending on the tenor of the event, you can go for a classic step and repeat banner branded with your logo, or you can mix it up with a more whimsical themed design. Either way, your brand will get attention every time the photos are shared (and there’s nothing more popular now than sharing photos).

How do you use custom printing to give your brand a boost in visibility? Share your ideas in the comments.

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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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