Printed stationery

Create a Great Impression with Printed Stationery

Printed stationery - letterheads, compliments slips, business cards and continuation sheets

Printed stationery is a basic yet incredibly important ingredient for any successful corporate identity. It’s also what clients and prospects often see at an early stage, so it needs to be well designed, well printed and well presented. It’s no good having a great design and second rate printing — and vice-versa. It’s also a missed opportunity if you get those two factors right but then serve it all up to your customer in a cheap-looking, incompatible envelope.

Create a great first impression

It’s important to get the detail right because first impressions really count. When you present something visually attractive in a highly professional way, it rubs off on you directly – you will automatically look more professional too, straight off the bat. So make sure letterheads look great, compliments slips and business cards follow suit and take the trouble to include printed continuation sheets in your suite of stationery. It shows care and attention to detail and is another easy way to remind the recipient of your brand.

Tip: also consider the reverse side of your stationery. All too often this is left blank but sometimes, for example, flooding a colour across the entire back of your letterhead, compliments slip or business card can look a million dollars, particularly if your logo is ‘ghosted’ into the flat colour somehow. This works particularly well with modern designs and helps to create something a little more unusual, to make you and your company or organisation more memorable. It also reinforces your brand recognition.

Choose your paper wisely

Consider not only the very best logo, colours and design (we can help with that), but also the paper you use for your printed stationery. There are thousands of different stationery papers on the market so it makes sense to take a little time to select the very best type for your particular stationery. Read more

Print finishing

Finishing Touches

Print finishing options

It’s often easy to overlook all the ways that printed documents can be transformed in what commercial printers call the ‘finishing’ stages. There is an incredible array of finishing techniques and services available. Such processes can do anything from augmenting your document, for example adding rounded corners or spot varnish, to converting flat sheets into something completely different, for example pads, pop-up greetings cards or folded cartons. So, we thought we’d highlight many of the options available at Firstpoint Print.

Scoring, Creasing & Folding

Starting with the most simple, obvious finishing services, we first come to folding, scoring and creasing. These are extremely inexpensive techniques to turn things like flat sheets into folded sheets — perfect when making booklets, brochures, newsletters, greetings cards and so on. Whether we score or crease depends upon the thickness of the paper/card being used but, rest assured, you can leave such decisions to us.

Perforating

When you need to be able to easily tear your documents along a predefined path, we can perforate the sheets to make it easy and accurate. We can also ‘micro perf’ on thinner sheets so that the path of the perforation is virtually invisible. Perforation is great for things like tear-off reply cards, tickets and vouchers and is one of those inexpensive finishing processes that simply make life easier. We can perforate in straight lines or, through use of a special tool, in curves and shapes of your choosing.

Guillotining

Keeping with the simple finishing processes first, we come to guillotining. Our guillotines can accurately and quickly cut whole reams of paper and card in one quick action. They’re even laser guided! So if you need something cut down to a smaller size, just let us know. Guillotining is another very inexpensive process.

Gluing

Whether it’s permanently gluing tabs during the assembly of cartons, or using removable glue to temporarily hold a business card into a folder, we have many gluing processes available. We can glue multiple sheets of paper along one edge to form pads and we can add peel-off glue strips to items you may later want to seal (bespoke envelopes for example). We can even ‘print’ glue that allows the recipient to fold a document in half and seal the edges together with a little moisture – great when sending documents that need to double as a response form.

Read more

Die-cut, shaped printing

Get into shape!

Die-cut, shaped printing

For sales and marketing collateral to make a good, memorable, first impression, one excellent design tool available to you is that of shape. Compared to the usual square-cut variety, shaped leaflets, brochures, postcards and business cards really stand out from the crowd. When designed well, they are innovative, add instant appeal, make the printed item more unique and, in a nutshell, add value to the printed piece. They also add a third dimension to marketing materials that would otherwise be two-dimensional, in perhaps more than one meaning of the phrase.

Simple but effective die-cut cardboard engineeringSpecially shaped printing does not necessarily need to be terribly complicated in order to look really effective. Even ‘simple’ can be very effective if designed and conceived well. This corporate greetings card is simply foil blocked once on one side of the sheet, then die-cut and folded. The result is a sophisticated, unusual, innovative and eye-catching piece with the foiled image appearing on all sides of the finished piece thanks to the careful planning involved at the design stage.

Cost considerations

Shaped print does cost a little extra due to the tooling required* and the extra process of die-cutting itself, but the extra ‘dimension’ will really make the printed item stand out and give an unforgettable first impression. In marketing terms, that’s well worth what can often be just a modest additional cost. Economies of scale also come into it. Once the initial set-up is complete, the cost to run on a few extra is usually considerably less per unit. In other words, the more your print and die-cut, the lower the unit cost.

Die-Cutting & Cutting Formes

* Irregularly shaped print usually requires a tool to be made, called a cutter or cutting forme. This usually takes the form of a rigid wooden board into which shaped blades are partly embedded, with the sharp edge upwards, each blade being meticulously bent to the exact shape required. Simple and reasonably complex shapes are possible with traditional die-cutting formes such as this, however the more complex and detailed the shape, usually the more expensive the initial cutting forme will be, because of the additional blades involved and time required to complete the manufacture of the forme.

So, once the job has been printed, the printed sheets are simply ‘stamped out’ (die-cut) by forcing the cutting forme blades into the printed sheets, under pressure and in close registration with the printed image. The result is a printed paper or cardboard sheet that is irregularly shaped rather than being the standard square or rectangular shape. As well as cutting, some blades can be set to crease or perforate at the exact same time the cutting blades cut.

Cutter Guides & Artwork

In terms of artwork required, graphic designers simply require a ‘cutter guide’ artwork for handing over to their printer. This is usually designed and made up in a programme like Read more

30 Great Printing Resources (part 2)

30 Great Printing Resources (Part 2)

30 Great Printing Resources (part 2)

Yet More Tips, Tricks & Technical Guides for Getting the Very Best Out of Your Print

Here we continue where we left off in the last post, with the second half of our library of extremely useful print-related resources. These further tips, tricks and technical guides cover things like envelopes, paper sizes, foil blocking, raised print in all its forms, folders, roller banners, variable data printing and why you should use it — and much more. Follow the guides to ensure that you get the very best return on the investment you have made into your printing.

16. Folders

Printed folders come in many shapes and sizes and demonstrate various levels of complexity. Whether used to hold a simple business card or several internal brochures and more, there can often be more to folders than meets the eye. Here’s a handy guide to what’s possible.

17. How to Print Economically

Make the most of your design and printing budget with our handy guide to keeping a lid on printing costs. Here’s how …

18. Roller Banners

Our guide to roller banners – what they are, what they can be used for, sizes, artwork specifications and some examples. Learn more here.

19. Raised Print

If you’d like to add a new dimension to your printing and print something in relief, here’s a handy guide showing how to make your printing stand out.

20. Fonts

Our guide to using fonts in your artwork, including ways to make sure what you design is what you end up printing. Embedding fonts, outlining fonts and more, right here.

21. Printing – Under the Magnifying Glass

Printing under the magnifying glass: our close-up guide to using tints, mixing inks or tints, use of black(s), dot formations and how these differ between litho, digital and large format printing processes. Learn more in this guide.

22. Paper for Printing — A Beginner’s Guide

A beginner’s guide to paper for printing, whether coated, uncoated, recycled, textured or something else. Read our guide here.

23. UK Paper Sizes — A Handy Reference

UK paper sizes – a handy reference. Includes the ISO series of sizes including A sizes (‘A4’ etc.), B, C, D, RA and SRA sizes plus many more. It also includes a few other useful facts that may surprise you. Here’s the guide.

24. Variable Data Printing: for Personalised Print

Variable data and its use in truly personalised printing. Learn all about it here.

25. ‘Print on Demand’ & its Benefits

‘Print on Demand’ – what it is, it’s key benefits, how you can use it to your advantage and where you can get it. Here’s the guide.

26. Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know about Envelopes

Envelopes – our handy guide telling you Read more

Firstpoint Print Victoria branch

Our Victoria Branch – in the Spotlight

Firstpoint Print Victoria branch

In the third and final post of our 3-part series highlighting individual branches, we go to London’s SW1 to take a closer look at the Victoria branch of Firstpoint Print.

Firstpoint Print Victoria, SW1

The Victoria branch of Firstpoint Print is located on the Vauxhall Bridge Road, being the A202, roughly halfway between Victoria Station and Vauxhall Bridge itself. This means that the commercial printer is perfectly situated to serve individuals, businesses and organisations located nearby in such areas as …

  • Battersea
  • Belgravia
  • Brixton
  • Bond Street
  • Charing Cross
  • Chelsea
  • Embankment
  • Green Park
  • Hyde Park Corner

  • Knightsbridge
  • Lambeth
  • Lancaster Gate
  • Leicester Square
  • Marble Arch
  • Mayfair
  • Nine Elms
  • Oval
  • Piccadilly Circus

  • Pimlico
  • St James’s Park
  • Sloane Square
  • Soho
  • South Kensington
  • Vauxhall
  • Victoria
  • Westminster
  • & Southwest London

As with all Firstpoint Print locations, the Victoria branch is also happy to supply printing services less locally including to customers in the Southeast of England and the UK as a whole. With overnight courier services being so fast and reliable these days, and online ordering available on the Victoria website, the branch can be the commercial printer for pretty much anyone, in any location. More about our online services below …

Firstpoint Print Victoria’s Printing Services

The Victoria branch has just about every printing-related service and facility that you could possibly ever need. We have in-house graphic designers who can cater to all your creative design and artwork requirements. We have digital printing presses ready and waiting for your quick turnaround, low-to-medium volume colour printing, duplication work and ‘on-demand’ printing. We have litho printing facilities that are perfect for single colour, spot colour or full colour medium-to-high volume print runs with the ultimate high quality results. We have large format printing machinery standing by for anything that you require in a large size, whether it’s a simple poster or a full-scale exhibition stand, display, pop-up system or roller banner. Read more

Firstpoint print clerkenwell EC1 branch

Our Clerkenwell Branch – in the Spotlight

Firstpoint print clerkenwell EC1 branch

Beginning this month we thought we’d put the spotlight on each of the individual branches of Firstpoint Print. First, we’ll take a look at our Clerkenwell branch.

Firstpoint Print Clerkenwell, EC1

Our Clerkenwell branch is based in St. John’s Lane, in London’s EC1 region. This is conveniently situated just a few minutes’ walk from both Farringdon and Barbican stations. As such, this professional printer is within very close reach of local businesses and organisations in any of the following areas:

  • Angel
  • Bank
  • Barbican
  • Blackfriars
  • Clerkenwell
  • Covent Garden
  • Euston
  • Farringdon

  • Finsbury
  • Fitzrovia
  • Holborn
  • King’s Cross
  • Leicester Square
  • Mansion House
  • Monument
  • Moorgate

  • Old Street
  • Pentonville
  • Russell Square
  • St Pancras
  • Shoreditch
  • Temple
  • The City
  • Whitechapel

So, if you require printing and design work and are in one of those locations, our Firstpoint Print Clerkenwell branch will be a very convenient choice.

For those further away, the Clerkenwell branch also has online facilities which allow artwork files, briefs and quotation requests to be uploaded easily and quickly. Moreover, the EC1 facilities include an entirely online web-to-print facility which allows customers to prepare, save and edit their own design and artwork then simply click a button to send it to print. Firstpoint Print Clerkenwell then takes care of the rest and customers will have a quotation, proof or finished job with them in no time at all.

What can Firstpoint Print Clerkenwell supply?

Like all the Firstpoint Print branches, the Clerkenwell branch has an in-house creative and technical team so can produce graphic design and artwork should customers not be supplying their own. Once we have artwork we can supply a digitally printed proof for approval and sign-off prior to committing to a full print run. We can then produce the final printing whether it’s to be lithographically printeddigitally printed or printed on our large format printing presses. Like other branches, Clerkenwell also offers a full print management service as well as its innovative web-to-print service that we described above. With all these services available in-house, customers of Firstpoint Print Clerkenwell benefit from the very best mix of high quality, unbeatable speed and extremely competitive pricing. Read more

Printing terms & jargon - explained

Printing Terms & Jargon – Explained

Printing terms & jargon - explained

It’s sometimes easy for printers to forget that not everyone will understand some of the common terms and jargon that is spoken within the industry. For example, printers may refer to ‘process printing’, ‘CMYK’, ‘bleed’ or even ‘trapping’. But what do each of these actually mean? Here we explain …

Above the fold
This refers to the part of a document which you first see, for instance the top half of a document or, for websites, the part of a web page which you see without having to scroll down vertically.

Accordion fold
A way of folding a document or brochure so that it concertinas open/closed.

.ai file
An Adobe Illustrator file type (usually used for vector graphics like logos, charts or illustrations).

Ampersand
The letter &, meaning ‘and’.

Art paper
This is a type of paper, commonly used in commercial printing, which has a coating of a clay-based compound, to give it a very smooth surface on which the printer’s ink will sit without absorption. This usually results in the best type of printed result (e.g. saturated colours and good contrast).

Artwork
The type of professional digital file supplied to commercial printers, from which to print (if digital printing) or make plates (if litho printing). Click here for a guide to supplying artwork.

Binding
The fastening together of pages (e.g. of a book, manual or brochure). Examples include perfect binding, wiro binding, saddle stitch binding, hard binding and soft binding.

Bleed
An extra extension of images or graphics beyond the edge of a printed page or sheet (usually 3mm in width). This makes sure that, once trimmed, any images or graphic which extend to the edge of the sheet do not have an unwanted white margin.

Blind Emboss
An unprinted image, formed in relief, using a metal ‘die’ which is forced against the paper or card under pressure. Read more

What we can print

We print almost anything!

What we can print

We’re often asked if we print particular items, for example, “Do you print NCR sets?” … “Can you overprint envelopes” … “Do you do packaging” and so on. Well, the good news is that our answer is nearly always “Yes!” We can print any kind of stationery item, virtually any item of sales and marketing collateral and almost any type of large format graphics. However, it goes way beyond those simple categories — take a look:

Stationery

We regularly print:

  • Business & personal stationery
  • Letterheads
  • Continuation sheets
  • Compliments slips
  • Business cards
  • Corporate envelopes

Sales & Marketing Collateral

The following are no problem at all:

  • Brochures & booklets
  • Catalogues
  • Manuals
  • Flyers & leaflets
  • Newsletters
  • Folders
  • Annual reports
  • Labels and stickers
  • Variable data mail shots
  • Direct mailers
  • Pop-ups & cardboard engineering
  • Overprinted envelopes
  • Programmes
  • Postcards
  • Name tags
  • Point-of-sale signs
  • Point-of-sale flyers
  • Corporate manuals
  • NCR sets
  • Forms

Packaging

If it’s printed digitally or via litho printing, then packaging is also no problem here at Firstpoint Print. For example:

  • Cartons
  • Pillow packs
  • Sleeves
  • Header cards
  • Hanging packs
  • Labels
  • Swing tags
  • CD and DVD inserts and covers
  • Printed dust jackets for books;
  • Sample packs and swatch packs etc.

Large format printing

Need something printed large? No problem — we can produce all this and more: Read more

Guide to online marketing, part 3

A Guide to Online Marketing: Part 3

Guide to online marketing, part 3

In part 3 of our guide to online marketing we cover some tips and tricks relating to more advanced online marketing activities. These include an introduction to Search Engine Optimisation and the use of paid services such as Google AdWords, along with some simple, common-sense actions you can take in order to convert ‘new’ customers into ‘repeat’ customers. Many of those tips can also be applied to physical stores and businesses of course; not just online marketing, as you’ll see.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation (‘SEO’ for short) involves the sometimes slightly technical ways you can improve your site’s pages or blog’s posts in order to give them a potential ‘lift’ in the search engine rankings. It’s very worthwhile, after all it’s better to potentially appear on page 1 of Google for your product or service than being buried on pages deeper into the search results.

While a full course in SEO is beyond the scope of this relatively short blog post, there are some fairly quick and easy SEO tips and tricks you can implement yourself, particularly if your website has a content management system (‘CMS’) with the right in-built tools (Firstpoint Print can of course help with that if your site needs an upgrade – we also do website design and development in case you didn’t know):

Meta tags

  • Make sure you write well-crafted meta tags for every page and post on your website. The meta tags are largely invisible to humans but are avidly ‘read’ by search engines as a way to find out what your page or post (and site as a whole) are about, which then helps them to decide, at least partly, how high your page or post should rank for search queries being entered into the search engine. Any good website content management system should allow you to change these meta tags within admin so ask your webmaster where to look if this is new to you.
  • The title meta tag should be a 60-70 character (roughly 8 to 11 words max.) synopsis of what your page or post is about, ideally in proper sentence structure, not just a list of keywords;
  • The description meta tag should be a longer version of the same thing i.e. a 24 words (max.) description of what your page or post is about, written again in proper sentence form;
  • The keywords meta tag should include a list of 10 to 24 of your post or page’s most important keywords, each separated by one comma and one space. Use single words and do not repeat any word more than once within this tag (so printing, printers, litho, digital, large, format, brochures, leaflets, flyers, london (etc) would be correct but printers in london, printing in london, litho printers (etc) would be wrong due to the repetition of ‘printers’ and ‘london’ — that approach being a common mistake which I see all the time). Note also how the keywords tag is best in lower case as most people use lower case when searching online;
  • In all 3 of the above meta tags use your page or post’s most important keyword(s) only once, preferably at or towards the start of each, and do not repeat them again in any one of the tags (however they should appear in all 3, i.e. once in each if important).
  • It’s actually easier to write these meta tags in reverse order, i.e. keywords tag first, then the description tag, then the title tag last. That way the most important keywords can be identified and put into order easily in the keywords tag, then that can be used as reference when writing the description tag. Finally the title tag is often a shortened version of the description tag. (Editor’s note: I use this approach myself, including on the post you are reading right now).

‘Alt’ tags

  • ‘Alt’ tags are the little image descriptors which pop up when you hover over photographs and images when using web browsers like Internet Explorer (however they may not show in other browsers like FireFox). They are useful for SEO and can be used in a similar way to the meta tags as they are visible to search engines whether or not they are visible to human visitors. If your site has a content management system it will usually allow you to enter ‘alt’ text (short for ‘alternative’ text) into a field when adding an image. If you can’t spot where, ask your webmaster where to look.
  • As with the meta tags, use your page or post’s most important keywords at the start of the first photo’s ‘alt’ tag. The words you enter should describe the image concerned. However, particularly if this is the first editable image on the page/post, they can also include your page or post’s most important keywords (in sentence form not a list) which will help with SEO if done correctly. As with meta tags, try not to repeat any one keyword more than once. So if your main keyword or phrase (e.g. ‘Printing services in London”) is mentioned in your page or post’s first alt tag (for the first photo) then don’t mention that keyword/phrase again – if you can help it – for photos further down the same page or post.

 Internal linking

  • If your page or post mentions or refers to another product or service on your site or blog, make sure you cross-link (hyperlink) to the page or post concerned. That helps both visitors and search engines what the ‘target’ page/post is all about and helps a little with SEO. The concept might make more sense with the following example which shows several hyperlinks each aiming at a different target page or post: We are a printer based in Central London with graphic design, lithographic printing, digital printing and large format printing facilities.
  • Note how we’ve also made the internal hyperlinks bold (this helps with visibility as well as SEO);
  • Note also how the links have been put on the relevant keywords.

‘Search-engine-friendly’ titles and sub-titles

  • If your website or blog is built on a search-engine-friendly platform (like the websites we supply at Firstpoint Print) then in admin you will usually have a choice of heading styles called ‘Heading 1’ through to ‘Heading 6’ (or they might be called ‘H1’ through to ‘H6’ etc.). If so, these are usually ‘search-engine-friendly’ heading and sub-heading styles. Heading 1 (or h1) is usually automatically reserved for your page or post’s main heading, so usually you don’t need to worry about that. However, SEO professionals usually recommend that most pages and posts should include sub-headings throughout the text. This not only helps visitors to pick out areas of particular interest and to structure the page, but also potentially helps with SEO (for better search engine positions), particularly if those sub-headings use those pre-set heading styles mentioned above and include your all-important keywords and phrases.

While these simple SEO techniques usually help to improve search engine rankings, we should mention that, these days, they are seldom enough all on their own to take you to page 1 on Google; you need to keep the long-term momentum up on everything else we’ve taught in these guides in order for that to be possible, realistically, unless you happen to be in a very tiny niche with very little competition. Google and their like have made us have to work very hard, these days, for free page one rankings — but it is possible with great care and persistence. Indeed, at the time of writing, the site you are looking at right now ranks very well for our targeted keywords and phrases so the hard work can and usually does pay off eventually.

Google AdWords

If your site is not yet ranking ‘naturally’ on Google or your SEO and online marketing efforts are not yet seeing results and bringing qualified traffic to your website, then consider signing up to Google AdWords so that you get some ‘instant’, qualified traffic using their ‘pay-per-click’ advertising model. Read more

A guide to online marketing (Part 2)

A Guide to Online Marketing: Part 2

A guide to online marketing (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our Guide to Online Marketing we outlined how to set up the right foundations before actively engaging in online marketing activities. Those good foundations will really pay off in the long run. Now, in Part 2, we explain how to engage with your target audience. This is the real key to online marketing success, both directly as it encourages prospects to become customers and indirectly because of the positive knock-on benefits to search engine rankings.

Engage Customers on Your Website

Rather than assuming that the building of your core website is a one-time activity which is finished after you’ve added content about your company, products and services, go a step further and think of it from a potential customer’s point of view. What else would they like to see when they arrive at your site? As well as showing decent product/service photographs and detailed text content and specifications etc., one of the best things you can add to your site is ‘Social Proof’ which, as the name suggests, is visible proof that you offer a good service and that your products or services are liked by people who have bought from you before.

Social Proof Improves Trust

Many online purchasing decisions come down to one word — trust. So — on your website add some genuine testimonials, recommendations, reviews and quotations from happy customers who have tried, and liked, your product or service in the past. Testimonials will naturally come to you if you offer a good product or service and communicate well with those who have ordered or enquired. However, if you’re just starting out, you may not have any testimonials or reviews yet. So, be proactive and simply ask a few early customers for their thoughts on your offering and, of course, for their permission for you to publish them and then you can get the ‘trust’ ball rolling. Publishing testimonials, reviews and displaying genuine ‘star ratings’ on your website can be the difference between whether someone orders from you – and whether they go elsewhere. This is known as ‘social proof’ and is like gold dust when it comes to online marketing. Indeed the likes of Amazon and eBay have whole Social Proof systems built into their sites so that visitors can check out the vendor and their feedback history, as well as a star rating for many of the products, although you do not need to go this far when you’re starting out — more sophisticated social proof systems can come later.

Fast, Responsive Feedback

Live Chat is another feature which can be seamlessly and easily added to your website, particularly if Firstpoint Print has built your website for you. This feature allows customers to interact with you via a live messaging system, right there on your website. The system allows site visitors to tap out a query which you can instantly respond to. Again, a quick response of the right nature can be the difference between the prospect ordering from you and becoming a customer, or going elsewhere. Many prospects actually prefer live chat on a website to calling by phone, however it should only be used if you have someone at the ready at all times when the system is live because there is nothing more infuriating than being ignored, particularly when you’re a customer who is virtually ready to buy. So if you add Live Chat to your site, make sure it is used well and, for example, deactivated when nobody is around to deal with the incoming enquiries. Another tip for Live Chat is *not* to bug site visitors by forcing a pop-up message onto their screens asking them if they would like to chat. If they want to message a query, they will click the appropriate live chat button on your site and do not need to be prompted. Moreover prompting them the moment they arrive may well scare them off — people do not like the feeling that they are being watched.

Feedback forms & contact telephone numbers and other means of communication are, of course, an absolute necessity on websites and they should be easy to find. At all times you simply must give your potential customers the chance to ask questions, after all they’re likely to spend good money and therefore need to be sure they’re making the right decision by buying from you. You should also make your physical address easily found on your site. If you don’t, you will immediately lose trust from your visitor, who should be able to find out where you or your organisation are based. Many in the UK, including myself, will be looking to buy from a UK-based business so don’t fail this simple test of trust.  Tell them where you are on a contact page or perhaps in a ‘footer’ area on every page.

Customer Satisfaction is Paramount

Customer satisfaction usually comes down to: Read more