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The Future is Now With 3D Printing

online printingThis week, the Wall Street Journal reported valuable new updates on the evolution of 3-D printing. Aside from functional body parts and food, 3-D printers can now also generate unique and functional pieces of art for your home, out of just about any material. One of the market printers, MakerBot “plans to launch a line of filaments — something like the ink cartridges in a regular printer — made partly of limestone, maple, bronze and iron.” From lacy light-bulbs to chandeliers made of printed gears, the frontier of 3-D printed artisan decor is just ahead of us.

For artists, much of the process of creation and design can be frustrating and arduous. For a fraction of the time and cost, designers can now plan their creations digitally and then use online printing to acquire the individual pieces for assembly. The results are stunning, custom printed items, one-of-a-kind pieces of art that, in time, you’ll be able to print out at and assemble at home.

This development predicts a way to bridge a gap between the artisan and the art. 3-D printing is an engaging enough conversation topic, let alone when you reveal that it’s responsible for a one-of-a-kind home creation. Michael McHale, who uses 3-D printers to make breath-taking chandeliers, says, “It’s not only that they love the product; they’re enamored of the story.”

Instead of handing out one of the 27,397,260 business cards printed every day, what if you could just print out a little model replica of your face? These are the kinds of possibilities on the horizon for custom 3-D printing.

For those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to own a 3-D printer, or don’t have the budget for couture decor, there are lots of ways to get creative with printing. Your local printing services can offer custom canvas art prints, metal art prints, photo books, and more. They also offer card stock printing, so you can design your own paper art and assemble it at home using online printing, just like the pros.

You can also use your local printing company to grow your business with a printed car-wrap, which 48% of people think is the most unique form of advertising, or some promotional calendars, which your customers are reported to keep all year long. The possibilities are endless!

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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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Three Secret Ways to Make Direct Mailers That Lead to Direct Profits

Despite what naysayers claim, the Internet age has not killed direct mail marketing. The art of using digital printing services to send custom mailers directly to potential customers is alive and well. In fact, businesses spent $47.8 billion on direct mail marketing in 2011. Not only that, but digital printing companies expect spending on direct mail marketing to have increased by 3.6% by the end of 2014.

The reason marketers still rely so heavily on digital printing services is simple: direct mail marketing works. Compared to emails sent to previous customers, direct mail marketing is 30 times more likely to receive a response. What’s more, a company that spends about $167 on direct mail marketing can expect to see $2,095 back in sales.

All this being said, success is not guaranteed. The key to making direct mail marketing work lies in the mailer itself. Believe it or not, 94% of customers will judge a mailer by its physical appearance, making an unconscious judgement of your business in as little as 90 seconds. You can’t simply send out a regular old postcard and expect it to bring customers in.

Thankfully, digital printing services have tons of customizable options. Here are a few tips to help you make direct mailers that will work.

Shape & Size
Most direct mailers are based around standard sizes, which means that you can set your self apart by having digital printing services to create mailers that are oddly formatted and shaped. If something literally sticks out in a person’s mailbox, it’s more likely to stick out in their memory.

You could say that color is pretty important when you consider the fact that 62% to 90% of a person’s judgement is based on the mailer’s color. In fact, having digital printing services add full color to your mailers can increase their response rate by 45% of more.

It’s not enough to have digital printing services make your mailers stick out to the eye — they should stick out in a person’s hand, too. Digital printing services have tons of custom applications, like special paper, finishes, unusual printing surfaces, and more that can all make a mailer more interactive. If the mailer looks good and feels unique, it’s practically screaming for attention.

Using custom label printing to send personally addressed marketing mailers to potential customers is a great way to increase revenues and generate a buzz about your business. You might even say that direct mail marketing leads to direct profits.

If you have any questions about how a digital printing company can help you get the word out about your business in the most cost effective way possible, feel free to ask in the comments.

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