We often give advice on this blog regarding what you can do to make your print efforts more successful. But when it choosing the right printing company to handle those print projects, sometimes knowing what not to do can be just as helpful. Here are the three biggest mistakes businesses make when screening custom printing companies:
Only Looking at Companies One Project at a Time
Say you’re looking at having a few hundred business cards made up for your business. If that’s the case, then a purely digital printing company might be able to offer you the best deal. But what about when you want to have some high-quality calendars printed to give to clients? Consumers actually tend to keep promotional calendars for all 12 months of the year, and 84% of Americans remember a company’s name if they receive a promotional gift with that company’s logo. And what if you want to spice up your marketing with a custom vehicle wrap? In one poll, 48% thought car wraps were the most unique advertising method available. For those kinds of things, you’ll need to be looking at fully custom printing companies. In the long run, it’s worth focusing on these custom printing companies because you’ll have more options — and probably more flexibility on pricing, too.
Reducing Custom Printing Companies to Their Equipment
We’ve often pointed out the respective pros and cons of digital and offset printing, but it’s a mistake to get so wrapped up in these techniques that you forget about the people implementing them. The best custom printing companies have experienced and highly trained technicians operating their presses, whether those are traditional lithographic presses or brand new digital ones. And in the end, the quality you’ll get from various custom printing companies will depend on the comparative skill of those people, not just the equipment they’re operating.
Sacrificing Customer Service for a Lower Cost
No matter the size of the business you’re running, you’re probably looking to minimize costs wherever possible. But when it comes to hiring custom printing companies, the worst thing you can do is choose one that is able to offer bargain-basement prices because it’s slashed customer service and support offerings. If you’re dealing with projects that have an impact on how your business is ultimately perceived by the public (as most print projects do), then you want to make sure you’ll get the help you need to make them turn out perfect.
Do you have any tips on what to do or not to do when screening prospective custom printing companies? Share them or any other perspectives on custom printing companies in the comments.
When it comes to print marketing, there are many different options, each with their own purposes. An amazing 27,397,260 business cards are printed every day, for example, and tried-and-true techniques such as direct mail and promotional gifts have still been shown to be effective.
But when it comes to getting a good ROI, it’s hard to beat outdoor print advertising. It costs 80% less than TV ads, 60% less than newspaper ads and 50% less than radio ads. How can you get the best possible return on this affordable advertising method? It’s all about following some important principles. Here are a few, using banner printing — one of the most classic forms of outdoor advertising — as an example.
- Keep It Simple but Eye-Catching
Don’t try to do too much all at once. Outdoor advertisements need to draw in the viewer’s eye quickly (especially if that viewer is simply driving past) and communicate some sort of message without requiring the viewer to read too much. Often, the best way to do this when it comes to banner printing is to have images or words do double duty, functioning as both visual interest and part of the message.
- Show Some Restraint in Color Choices
Let the KISS (that’s keep it simple, stupid) mentality spill over into color choices, too. You want to use colors that have a high contrast level so they’ll be readable, but that doesn’t mean you need to use many colors to get your point across. Banner printing often turns out best when it uses only two or three colors.
- Invest In Quality Design and Printing
Quality is key when it comes to outdoor representations of your brand, and choosing the right banner printing services matters. It may get overwhelming trying to figure out all the technical details associated with banner design and banner printing — vector-based graphics, DPI, file types, large format printing, wide format printing, digital printing, offset printing, etc. — but don’t let all the terms overwhelm you. Learn what you can about banner printing and then hire professionals to do the rest.
- Place Your Advertisements Strategically
Once you’ve gone to the trouble of designing the perfect ad and paying for professional banner printing, there’s no reason to be thoughtless when it comes to placement. If you have your own storefront, of course, then that’s a natural place to use an outdoor banner. But you can also get outdoor advertising space elsewhere at relatively affordable prices.
- Understand Your Long-Term Goals
Outdoor advertising such as banner printing works a bit differently from other types of advertising in that your goal is exposure, not necessarily immediate conversions. That both means that you don’t need to follow all the rules of traditional ads (including a call to action, for example), and that you may not immediately see leads start pouring in once your banner is hung.
Keep in mind that while we’ve used banner printing as an example here, there are lots of other outdoor advertising channels to which these principles apply — one survey found that almost half of those polled (48%) thought vehicle wraps were the most unique advertising medium. Can you think of any other options besides banner printing? Join the discussion in the comments.
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.
When 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Businesses 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Setup Fee
A setup fee is generally charged for offset printing jobs to cover the creation of the custom plates and blankets.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.