All about printing & graphic design


Buy Printing the Right Way

IdeaI need a brochure,” a client of ours says while they are at our counter.  Is this what they truly need?  It could be, but without knowing the reason it is hard to say for sure.  Is this simply an idea that popped into their head the night before?  Maybe they received a brochure from another business and then thought to themselves, “I could really use this in my business.  In either case, this is definitely not the right way to buy printing.

So, what is a better approach?  The correct way to go about this would be to think hard about what your overall marketing intent is.  Start with identifying your true target market, your sweet spot, the customers with the highest probability of buying your products and services.  With your target identified you can then think about the correct way to appeal to them.  Image is everything…  Not only is presenting the correct printed marketing materials to your clients important, but so is the way they look.  Clients for some businesses may be attracted to expensive things, while others may be scared off if they perceive your products or services are going to be too expensive.  Reading BrochureOnce you have determined how your product needs to be designed for appearance you need to move on to content.

Your messaging, and information need to speak to your intended audience so they are quickly engaged, properly educated, and desire to take action to purchase your products and services.  If your business requires a high level of trust before someone will act (i.e. Financial Planning) and you decide a brochure is the right marketing material to use, you may consider including a bio about yourself.  This allows your potential clients to get to know who it is they will be dealing with, and your experience level in that field.  Remember, people are only going to do business with those they know, like and trust.  This alone won’t do all of those things, but it  will begin the process.

Being that our clients all make buying decisions in different ways, you will need to be diverse in your marketing efforts.  Online Marketing, Print Marketing, and Network Marketing should all be included in the way in which you reach clients.  With Print Marketing you will find you need to have some pieces developed that speak of your business overall, along with others that speak of individual products and services you offer.  Being too general with marketing materials may lead to missing out on opportunities if someone wants more detail about a single product you offer.


How Well Do You Really Know Your Business?

As business owners we work hard, are proud of what we accomplished, and are equally frustrated by not yet matching the sales growth goals we have set for ourselves.  There are many factors involved in this, but one thing many business owners fail to do is to think long and hard in order to be able to define a couple of things that will help them market their business in an effective manner.  What exactly are these things I am talking about?  Let’s take a look as this is extremely important when you go to develop the printed marketing items you will use to educate and attract both existing and new customers alike.

First, you need to define who your target market is.  Businessman ThinkingMany of us think we know the answer to this because we are conducting business with people who are obviously interested in the products and services we have to offer.  How many of us have really taken the time to print a list of our current customers and think objectively about which customers on the list are truly in our “Sweet Spot?”  Your Sweet Spot is composed of those customers on your list who have the highest likelihood of purchasing the products and services you offer.  Of course you are going to gratefully accept the business you receive from any customers that appreciate what it is you specialize in, but knowing your “Sweet Spot” allows you to develop printed marketing materials that attracts those in your target markets to help meet your sales goals in a timely manner.

Standing OutSecond, You need define what sets you apart from other businesses that offer similar products and services to your business.  This needs to be a vital part of your sales process.  What makes you standout from the rest of your competition?  This information needs to be displayed in your printed marketing materials.  This is also information you should be able to easily share in person with your clients during your sales presentations.  This information should roll off your tongue naturally without having to think about it much.  When thinking about this, consider things such as what your business culture is, how you conduct business normally, and what things you offer that others in your profession don’t.

With these two key things clearly defined you are ready to begin developing marketing materials that will reach those most likely to use your products and services.  This will lead to greater sales success, and make the best use of your marketing dollars.  Now you are ready to take the next step.  Together, Let’s Begin to Build Your Business.

Foiled Again: Adding Pizzazz to Business Cards

While the importance of a business card cannot be over emphasized when it comes to making that first impression, some still fall short of doing just that.  Why is that you ask?  Often this is a design issue, other times it is seems the business owner merely wants just enough to get by in order to provide basic information to their potential clients.  The design issues can be addressed easily as long as the business owner is willing to do what it takes for their cards to standout from their competition.  If one has the mindset that this is simply an informational item that will surely help them get business just because their contact information is listed, then they are potentially missing out on a number of opportunities.  Remember, there are a lot of business cards being given out at meetings, seen in racks, and in the hands of others from businesses providing a similar service to yours.

You mentioned design as a possible way to make my cards standout from my competition.  What do you suggest?  Of course the nature of the business you operate has some consideration in realtion to design.  For example, a Travel Agent’s card should be designed in such a way as to be obvious that this service is being offered.  Perhaps this could be done in the nature of the logo itself, or a picture of an exotic location being placed in the background.  There are a lot of similar cards available to the travel seeker out there though.  Adding rounded corners to your business cards may serve to separate your cards from many of those out there.  While this is a good step in the right direction, that is a relatively common practice as well.  There is a process that we have recently come upon that would definitely be a terrific next step.  Let’s look at that shall we?

A combination of printing processes being done on the same card may be just what you are looking for in getting your cards to stand above the rest.  You could print the main contact information using the standard methods, but then use a different process to print your logo.  What would that involve?  A foil stamped logo has been seen on cards for quite a few years now, but not in the way that is available today.  We could create your cards so your logo was made with a Color Foilmulti color foil.  The colors of the foil can actually be blended in the logo so there is a combination throughout the logo. Now we are talking about something unique that would help a card standout from the competition.  The finished product is sure to get you noticed.  The odds of a business card being kept for a long period of time and shown off multiple times to others go up dramatically when there is something special about it.  That sounds pretty expensive, is it?  Of course it does add cost to the cards, but it is quite a bit less expensive than some other methods involving foil and another printing process being done together such as thermography which is raised letter printing.  If you spend a little more on your cards but the result is that potential customers take your card and use your services instead of a competitiors, isn’t it worth it?  Absolutely it is.  If you are interested in finding out the cost of taking your business cards to the next level using this new printing process then simply click here to Request an Estimate or Place an Order and we will be glad to help turn your cards into something that will truly make yours standout from your competitors.

More Than Just Ink & Paper

BrochureMinuteman Press is a name that many associate with traditional Offset Printing.  Some are unclear of just exactly what it is we do.  At our two Minuteman Press locations here in Colorado Springs we offer much more.  Although we provide Offset Printing where it is needed, each of our two locations offer Digital Printing as well.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is still a place for Offset Printing in products such as Single or Two Color Carbonless Forms, Envelopes, Letterhead, and Business Cards.  Many projects we run across today can be printed digitally which can save time and money in many cases.  In Digital Printing there are no plates that need to be made.  So, if you are in need of 1,000 Full-color Brochures for example then there is both time and money savings by printing them Digitally.

Many other products can be printed using digital equipment as well.  Full-color Business Cards are great example.  They can be produced rather quickly this way and shells (blank cards waiting for contact information to be provided)  as were often made in Offset Printing are not necessary to store.  The files are simply stored electronically so that they can be pulled up quickly and reproduced as reorders occur.  If more names are needed for a company then the files are simply updated to accomodate these changes.  We produce the quantities needed on demand rather than placing pre-printed shells into the printer and adding the additional information.  This way the cards are completed in one pass on the printer rather than several.

Other services we offer are  Wide Format Printing, Full Graphic Design Services, Free Business Consulations and Marketing Advice, Bindery Services, along with Free Pickup & Delivery in the area surrounding our two stores.  Posters and Banners are made using a Wide Format Printer.  Need a logo, a brochure designed, a business card made, or a form customized to your business?  Our talented Graphic Design Team can help.  This can be done onsight or via Email.  Simply send us your text and images and we can do the rest.  When we first meet with a business owner we take the time to learn all that their business has to offer.  This way we can best suit their needs in targeting their ideal clients using the correct printed items to educate their client base about all of the products and services they have to offer.  Bindery Services are done right in house so the time between printing your items and the finishing process is greatly reduced.  Maybe you need Invoices to be printed and need them to be numbered.  Not a problem.  We can take them off the printer and place them in our numbering equipment all in one smooth process.  Do you need some tickets made for a special event, need to have a perforated stub, and have each location of the ticket numbered?  Consider it done.  Spiral or Comb Binding, Laminating, and Hole drilling all can be done with ease.  Oh, you want rounded corners on your Business Cards?  Since we offer die cutting services and have that die ready to go, this is another Bindery Service we are ready to take on.  If your job involves ordering all the printing for your company and you just can’t afford to leave the office, we would be happy to pickup whatever it is you need done and deliver it back to you when it is completed.

So you see we are much more than just ink and paper.  We have a lot more to offer than that.  One thing I didn’t mention previously was that we can handle your entire Bulk Mailing for you as well.  Say you are wanting to do a Postcard Mailing to potential customers surrounding your store.  We can get you the Mailing List, print your Postcards, and Mail them for you.  You never have to touch it.  We will even work on getting you the best rates on postage that we can obtain based on courier routes or other criteria when possible.  If there is a project you have in mind then simply click here to Request an Estimate or Place an Order and we will be glad to help.

Direct Mail Marketing: Doing It Right

Direct Mail Marketing is used by businesses everywhere because it works when it is done correctly.

Full Mailbox

Does Your Item Stand Out?

The types of items that are mailed to consumers come in a variety of forms, but some common ones are postcards, flyers, brochures, and letters.  We have all received them from time to time.  Some we read while others get tossed into the trash without even really looking at the information.  Let’s discuss some of the things to consider to help avoid this from occurring.

  1. Design – What design aspects of your marketing piece is going to catch the eye of someone picking up their mail.  Is it the colors used, maybe it is an item that has been die-cut to give it a unique appearance or shape, possibly it is the size of the item that caught their eye, or something about the content.  If it is a well designed piece it may include a few of these design features.  Really give this some serious thought prior to printing your items.  The first time the item is viewed may be the only one, so get their attention now.
  2. Target Client

    Click on me to learn more

    Target – Who is your audience?  What appeals to them?  Maybe humor would be something you could use in your advertising.  Possibly it is information that your client base is attracted to.  Are you dealing with residential clients or those in the commercial arena?  Make sure that your imaging and text relates to your business so your target client knows right away that you provide a service that fulfills one of their needs.  Is the type of piece you chose the right one for your client?  If your audience doesn’t need a large amount of information, maybe a brochure isn’t the right choice.  In this case a postcard may provide all the information they need and want.  Will the piece I am designing appeal to the age range my client base consists of?

  3. Size – Is the dimensions of my project going to be consistent with Postal Regulations?  You would be very wise to check this out before you actually print your marketing pieces.  What will the postage cost to send the mail pieces out as is?  Would a smaller size save me significant money?  It could in two ways; First, yes it is possible you could save money on postage.  Second, if more items could be printed at the same time because you chose to reduce the size of the items the printing savings could be significant as well.
  4. Value – It is true that if you chose to inform your clients via the message provided on your marketing piece a value of sorts would be provided to them.  Information is valuable and should not be overlooked.  The way in which the term Value is meant here is financial.  Make sure you offer something of financial value on your marketing piece.  Your clients will have a hard time throwing away money.  This could be in the form of a dollar value, but may be a percentage off a service or product instead.  You could offer 15% off a client’s next purchase or consultation for example.
  5. Consistency – If you plan on sending out a mail campaign one time, expect a large return on your investment, and have no plans to followup this mailing with another at a consistent time interval, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  Like any advertising you do it takes multiple views to get someone to pay serious attention to what it is you have to offer.  For instance, my company is currently in the middle of a postcard mailing campaign that we send out once a month and plan on continuing for 12 months.  Consistency has another meaning here as well.  The consistency of your branding needs to be present also.  Your message and value offer can change with each mailing, but your basic company information should be easily recognizable by anyone receiving your marketing pieces.  You want a potential client you are mailing items to during your campaign to think to themselves, “I know which company is sending me this information.”  They may not read the information the first time around, but eventually their curiosity will get the best of them.

Direct mail can be a very effective method of advertising your business when all of these things are taken into account.  If you are considering a direct mail campaign then click here to request an estimate and we will be glad to be of assistance. If you ever need any assistance with printing or graphic design with any project to help further your business then send us an email and know we are always there for you.

Graphic Design: Ways To Save Money

Printing of any kind begins with an idea that is turned into reality through graphic design.  There is a vast availability of software to help make this happen.  Open Software BoxSome of these programs come as part of an office suite, others are developed as stand alone programs.  Do your homework prior to purchasing one of these programs.  Some are expensive, some are rather inexpensive, but price can be an indicator of the software’s limitations or advanced functionality.  Obviously this can be misleading as well.  Using the web to search for side-by-side comparisons of different design software programs is the fastest way to do your research.  You can easily find multiple pages to compare price, function, and user ratings of the graphic design software you are seeking.  The time spent on this is well worthwhile.  There is nothing worse than buying software, being excited to get it, and finding out you hate it once it arrives only to have wasted your time and money.

Is buying a graphic design software program the right decision for you?  Remember, once you buy your software you are going to have to invest time in learning how to use it.  Consider the following prior to choosing this option:

  1. How quickly do I need my print project to be completed?
  2. Am I confident in my ability as an artist because the graphic design program won’t just do it for me?
  3. Is learning a new software program worth my time in the long run?
  4. Can I really afford a program that allows me to design my project and future projects in a way that gives me the results I am looking for?
  5. Would it be more cost effective to simply use the Graphic Artist hired by my Printer to do the design work for me?

Designing a beautiful work of art only gets you part way to the finished product.  When it comes to sending your design to print there are many things that can affect the outcome.  What kind of equipment will be used to print your project?  Knowing whether a Traditional Press or Digital Equipment is going to be used to print will often affect the type of color choices used.  Many software programs create your designs using the RGB color model (Red Green Blue) which is how your computer monitor displays your artwork.  What’s wrong with that?  To send these through the printing process the colors need to be converted to CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) mode which represents the colors of inks used in the printing process. CMYK Colors Ink Drops Certain programs convert these well and others don’t translate well when printing so the outcome looks different from what you thought it would look like.  Pantone colors are used when sending a print job to press.  There are CMYK values that are used to build these colors.  There are numerical values associated with both the Pantone color and CMYK build of that color.  If you choose color(s) from a Pantone color wheel that you want to use, say with something such as your company logo, be sure to write down the number(s).  If you know your colors by number then any good artist should be able to build them for any products you develop.  This will help keep consistency throughout your printing.  These colors are part of your brand.  That is great to know, but how does that save me money?  You will save money in the long run by not having to pay a Graphic Artist to struggle for hours trying to match your colors for different projects being printed.

There are too many other factors to list here that need to be considered when sending a design to print.  If you want more information then read my articles titled “Designing For Print” and “Product Choice and Design.” For some this may seem extremely complicated, and others may already know this information.  If this seems complicated, maybe buying a graphic design program isn’t the answer.  There is another way to get your design done, with your input as to how you want it to look, and save money in the process.  Simply find the images you want to use, figure out what you want to say, send an email to a Graphic Artist with images and the wording attached, obtain and approve your proof, and enjoy  the finished product.  That sounds easy, but how does that save me money?  Isn’t using a Graphic Artist expensive?  Not always, and try to get a referral from someone you know that used one.  If they had a good experience then you should have one too.  Providing images and information to the artist cuts down on design time which saves you money since design charges are generally based on just that, time.

We have a Full-time Graphic Artist as part of our staff.  If you need an estimate on a project feel free to Request an Estimate and we will be happy to assist you.

The Mighty Business Card

Underestimating the importance of a business card is a pretty common thing.  While speaking to someone about a new card they had in mind I have heard it said, “It’s just a business card.”  I responded to this by reminding them how important this small but mighty marketing tool really is.

Often this is the first impression that a business makes to a potential client.

Man Handing a Business Card

Making a First Impression

How important is this card now?  It is pretty important in this context.  Ask yourself a couple of the following basic questions.  How good do you feel about handing your business card to a new prospect?  Is the business card representative of the type of products and services you offer?  If the card was to be seen in a place that you were not present to explain what is you do, could the prospective client easily realize what you have to offer them? How quickly can they learn who you are and how to contact you?  Finally, does the card design help it to stick out in a sea of other business cards that someone may have collected?  There are many factors to consider when deciding on how your business cards should be designed.

Color vs. Black and White is something that is frequently questioned in print decision making.  Which is better?  Color printing often leads to greater retention of the information being presented; however, Black and White does have its place.  If certain colored papers are being used then Black printing may show up much better than Color.  Generally, it less expensive to print in Black than in Color as well.  The best idea is to think beyond the cards.  How is everything else branded for your business?  How was your logo designed?  What colors are used throughout your website?  Do you have signs made for your business and/or vehicle?  If so, what colors are in those?  Hopefully you tie everything together with a sense of continuity.  You want clients to see your information in any form and know instantly that it is your business they are dealing with.

There are other design features you can use that will help your business cards stand out from others.  Rounded corners, special Die Cuts where a certain shape is made, Foil Stamping, or Spot UV where a design is made with a UV coating instead of color are all examples of how you could do this.  You can even have Stainless Steel business cards Stainless Steel Business Cardmade.  That sounds very expensive?  The last option listed is on the expensive side, but if you are in the manufacturing business this would make for a pretty impacting first impression to a large client you were trying to obtain.  The likelihood of this card being tossed is on the low end of the scale.

The next time you get an opportunity to hand a potential client your business card be sure you are making a good first impression.  Depending on where the card ends up from there, you may get a shot at multiple first impressions.  How is that possible?  If the person you hand the card to isn’t really in need of your services but knows someone else that is, a second party may end up with your card.  In this case your card is what is going to make or break the opportunity to gain this person as a client and not you.  Is your business card up to the task?

If you want to learn more about this you can find and article on our website that goes into further detail and is titled “It’s Just A Business Card.”