Author Archives: melissarudy

Make Your Mark with Print

Why printed marketing materials are here to stay

Huge chunks of marketing and advertising budgets are often spent on web design and online advertising, so it’s easy to overlook printed materials or to disregard them as unnecessary. But marketing collateral—a catch-all term for all of the media that sells a product or service—still goes well beyond the digital realm. Even the most modern business relies on the distribution of printed marketing materials as important tools for their sales force. They count on it for rich and robust direct mail campaigns, to distribute at industry events and tradeshows, and to accompany their product distribution.

Why it’s necessary

2015-08-20 10.08.34 (1)Marketing collateral is what sets your business apart from competitors. It defines and strengthens your brand, telling the story of who you are, why you matter, and why your target audience should buy from you. On a more practical note, it builds awareness of your business and leads to increased sales.

The most effective collateral leverages both digital and print resources, carefully blending them to accentuate the most powerful and unique attributes of your business. Digital provides accessibility and convenience, while print demonstrates your commitment to longevity.

Back to basics

The exchange of business cards dates back over a century, and remains a respected interaction among networkers today. A strong card design catches the recipient’s attention, making a memorable impression while clearly conveying your style, value, and brand identity.

Version 2Sell sheets and flyers provide information on products or services in an easy-to-read, unassuming format. These pieces effectively convey details that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten, leaving behind a hard copy for future reference.

Another great tool is the brochure, which can be distributed in print and online format. You can highlight your main offerings while also delving a little more into who you are.

What your business needs

Marketing collateral is essential for business growth in all its forms, but it’s difficult for someone outside your business to tell you exactly what will best suit your needs. For maximum results, consider meeting with a printing company who offers graphic design and copywriting services. You’ll want to carefully consider your audience when choosing and designing the collateral to highlight your products or services. Most importantly, make sure everything is consistent: colors, logos, fonts, and styles should complement one another and resonate the same message across all advertising platforms.

Going the extra page

Beyond the basic pieces—business cards, sell sheets, and brochures—lies a world of enhancements for your marketing collateral. Coil books and smaller booklets go a step beyond the brochure with more facts and figures available for later perusing; this is a clean, sleek way to present industry colleagues or potential customers with a tangible reference.

Version 4Mailed newsletters and postcards help forge a connection with your clientele, and are viewed as more legitimate than a simple email version.

Finally, manufacturers and other industries often require a plethora of print collateral to accompany and support their product distribution. This may include product literature, packaging inserts, training manuals, kits, specialized fulfillment projects and more. Pairing up with a reputable printing partner that is capable of handling high volume printing and unique custom print projects, with all its support services, is key to receiving the adequate support your organization deserves.

Forge ahead

With a slew of printable materials available, it’s easy to find ways to make your business stand out, whether it’s by providing manuals and user guides or including something so simple and effective as personalized notes on custom stationery. With careful thought in choosing the right print collateral, your business will be primed to make its mark.


The Benefits of Using Promotional Products to Motivate Employees & Boost Your Brand

Port Authority (R) Stain-Resistance Sport Shirt

Port Authority Stain-Resistance Sport Shirt

Promotional products are all around us. If we borrow a pen from someone, chances are there’s a company logo on it. Our coffee mugs, calendars, and notepads may have branding elements on them. Even so, we may not realize these are actually powerful forms of advertising.

As most branded products are unobtrusive and often very useful, they are more often readily accepted than most other mediums. With this in mind, promotional products can be an effective tool for businesses looking to diversify their marketing efforts, foster employee loyalty, and increase credibility of their brand.

Let’s explore some benefits of using your company’s branded products as effective marketing and team-building tools.

Promotional products are useful to your employees.

There are a wide variety of promotional products available, from caps to polo shirts to lanyards. Your team can wear, use, and promote these items in many situations, such as trade shows, presentations, client meetings, and corporate outings.

Promotional products improve brand recognition.

As current or potential customers see you wearing or using promotional products, they will develop trust and familiarity with your brand, setting your company apart from a crowd of competitors. According to a recent survey, 76% of clients who are exposed to branded promotional products in the past 12 months were able to remember the name of the company.

Promotional products are a relatively inexpensive marketing technique.

Think about the cost of online impressions. Every time someone sees your company’s advertisement online, you’re charged the cost of that impression, even if you don’t capture the sale. Promotional products, on the other hand, offer unlimited impressions with a significantly lower price tag.

Promotional products encourage employee/team morale.

By distributing branded products—such as jackets, water bottles, padfolios, or thumb drives—you’ll indirectly foster the loyalty and morale of employees. Customized gifts show deep appreciation for work anniversaries, and also serve as great incentives for high levels of performance.

There is a wide variety of promotional products available.

Each company is unique. A product that works for one business might not suit another. Fortunately, there are hundreds of promo products available to personalize with your branding elements. Options include uniforms, golf accessories, backpacks, and many other useful items. There are even sustainable products for eco-minded companies.

With so many cost-effective options for promotional products, it’s easier than ever to create employee incentive programs and boost team morale—all while building brand recognition.

Common Print Terms: Unpacking the Words

Outline-Format-of-a-Definition-EssayPlacing a print order can be confusing—not just in figuring out what you want, but also in understanding the terminology used by print companies. With printers spending much of their days surrounded by different cover stocks and binding options, it’s easy to forget that the world at large is mystified by their jargon.

This list provides a brief introduction into print terminology, so you can feel better prepared when your printer comes calling.

Binding: Wire, glue, stitching, or other means of fastening sheets together along one edge

Bleed: Printing that runs off the edge of a sheet, so that trimming makes each copy identical

Body copy: The text to be printed in the main part of the project

Cover stock: Heavier paper used for the covers of catalogs, booklets, etc.

Coverage percent: The amount of ink covering the page

Crop mark: Horizontal and vertical lines showing where a photograph or page should be trimmed

DPI: Dots per inch, a measurement for printers and monitors; sometimes known as pixels per inch in web graphics

Finished size: The size of the product once it’s finished (folded, etc.)

Flat size: The size of the product after printing and trimming

Gloss: Light reflecting off an object, whether paper, ink, coating, or more

Gutter: The inside margins of pages toward the binding

Inserts: Additional items within a publication that are not bound in

Laminate: A thin, transparent plastic coating applied to stock to protect it from spills and heavy use

Leaf: One sheet of paper; each side of a leaf is one page

Linen finish: An embossed finish on text paper reminiscent of linen cloth

Page: One side of a leaf

Perforate: To create holes for easy tearing

Process color: Also called CMYK color or four color, it uses four ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to print the spectrum

Proof: The test run of a project, used to show errors and mark changes

Resolution: The sharpness of an image, whether on paper or screen

Saddle stitch: Binding with staples or stitching in the middle of the leafs to hold pages together, typical of magazines

Self cover: When no separate cover stock is used, instead having text stock throughout

Spiral bind: To bind by using a spiral of wire or plastic looped through holes

Text stock: Lighter weight paper, as opposed to cover stock, used for the inside of a publication

A little knowledge goes a long way! With this basic terminology, you’ll be able to communicate your needs more effectively to printing companies and make more informed decisions.

The Power of Color

Red, green, or purple: color choice greatly influences buyers

Pantone-Color-of-the-Year-2013-1When drafting a print job, the decisions can be overwhelming. What weight of paper will work best? What binding option meets your needs and budget? One tool that is more powerful than paper, binding, or any other print selection is the simple—or not so simple—choice of color.

Most people know that different colors can call to mind a variety of emotions or moods, such as a blue room feeling cool or a yellow dress seeming springy, but color affects the psyche on an even deeper level, playing a role in emotion to the point that it impacts purchasing behavior. Before you pick purple because you like it, or green because it’ll show up well, take a moment to investigate what your audience might be thinking about your color scheme.

Neutral colors

Neutral shades, such as black, ivory, white, tan, brown, and grey, form the basis for many simple, streamlined products. Apple markets mainly in black and white, and has cultivated their sleek sophistication in part due to their neutral color scheme. Neutrals make excellent backgrounds for more vivid images or commentary, but when used alone, run the risk of feeling bland, sterile, or stark.

Warm colors

Red, orange, and some shades of yellow comprise the warm color family. This is where you can find the intense emotions—passion, energy, and vibrancy. They can create feelings of happiness or exuberance, but also alarm. Used sparingly, bursts of warm color are excellent attention-getters; when they overwhelm, however, they are one of the fastest ways to turn your market off.

Cool colors

The phrase ‘cool colors’ doesn’t refer to how trendy the colors are, but sometimes they can be the hip choice. Blue and green, the main cool colors, are known to be calming and soothing, which can serve to drive consumers to those choices, particularly in health and wellness markets. However, they can sometimes seem staid or aloof. Purple invokes luxury, or superiority, depending on how it is used.

Common perceptions

One important factor to keep in mind is that your material, like the rest of the world, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Purple might perfectly meet your needs, but it can also connote femininity, which may not jive with your goal. Green means go, or means nature—or, to the coffee-inclined, is inextricably linked with Starbucks. Balance the emotional weight of colors with what your audience might be connecting them with already; as with Starbucks, careful and consistent color marketing can eventually tie you so closely to a specific color that it becomes paramount to your brand. Make your choice with care, and then embrace your colors.

The Resurrection of Print Media

F-sellsheet-keystoneWhen Does Print Trump Digital?

In today’s tech-centric world, it sometimes seems like digital media and advertising is pushing print into becoming obsolete—but there are some arenas where print will always have the edge. It’s a medium that can be directly targeted to your audience, and is believable and accessible to those you’re trying to reach.

While many believe that digital is the new frontier, and that all efforts should be concentrated there, the reality is that print is as relevant as ever—particularly with more and more competitors disappearing from the print world. It’s becoming more of a free game, which means you can seize valuable opportunities to reach your market.

Hitting the Target

One of the most obvious benefits of print marketing is the ability to localize your advertising. Internet ads are everywhere, and most people simply skip over them. If you limit your marketing to the web, you’ll have a more difficult time seeing a return on your investment.

Print allows you to deliver your message to specific people, whether it’s through targeted placement in niche magazines or localized mailings to nearby potential customers. You can much more effectively reach your audience when you focus your attention where it will matter most.

Tangible & Credible

Even with the prevalence of the Internet, there is still a certain legitimacy associated with print media. Newspapers, magazines, and flyers can last much longer than a browser window on a computer. There isn’t the same overabundance of print ads as there is online banners, so it’s easier to get more focused attention for your advertisement.

Local marketing in particular gains credibility by being in print: a business card or leaflet picked up from a coffee shop billboard is more likely to be remembered and followed up on. Additionally, unlike popup and banner ads, print doesn’t carry the risk of electronic viruses.

Anytime, Anywhere Accessibility

It can sometimes be easy to forget that not everyone has ready access to the Internet, or the desire to connect digitally. Older Americans, those without personal computers, and individuals who simply prefer to connect in the tangible world will be entirely missed by digital marketing. To fully encompass your target audience, it’s important to consider people who may fall outside the computer world. You want your message to reach as many as possible, so don’t restrict it to a screen.

Your Brand, on Paper

Print media also provides an invaluable method for one of the standbys of marketing: branding. Consistent fonts and colors help to strengthen your visual identity, and they’re easier to maintain across a variety of print methods.

Instead of following the crowd into all-digital advertising, set yourself apart by targeting your ideal clientele with a message they’ll be sure to see—and likely to respect.