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Printed newsletters - the great communicator

Newsletters – the Great Communicator

Printed newsletters - the great communicator

Printed newsletters are a great way to keep both clients and employees up to date with news about your products, services and organisation as a whole. While electronic newsletters like PDFs and e-newsletters try their hardest, they’re too easy to skip past and potentially overlook completely. In contrast, physical, printed newsletters can grab the eye and engage your audience right from the word go and they are far more natural and enjoyable to browse through anyway, with no zooming required. When their content is designed well and your headlines are well crafted, printed newsletters have definite read me appeal; they catch attention and virtually invite people to pick them up, take a look and flick through. Subsequently, they can also be passed around and shared. For businesses, they can be left in strategic locations such as coffee tables, waiting rooms and receptions as well as being distributed through direct mail for a far ‘softer’ sell than flyers, adverts and suchlike.

“Printed newsletters are a great way to keep both clients and employees up to date with news about your products, services and organisation as a whole”

Tips & Tricks for Successful Newsletters

  • Design them professionally (our graphic designers are available to you if needed).
  • Write your copy (text) carefully and methodically, then spell check, grammar check and check again. Ask a colleague or two to also proof read them before they go to print. You only have one chance for a good first impression and mistakes will look unprofessional.
  • Feature one particularly prominent article or news piece on the front cover and use a high quality image to make it even more appealing to read. You need to grab your audience’s attention!
  • Design and printing of newsletters - tipsEngage your readers with a wide array of news items, so there’s something of interest to everyone.
  • Try not to be too ‘salesy’ with regard to new products or services being featured. Sometimes a case study or guest review can be more convincing and will avoid people being switched off by a ‘hard sell’.
  • Try to include items that are not only ‘news’ but are also useful to your target audience. Carefully researched articles, case studies and unique market insight, for example, mean that your newsletter is far more likely to be kept by your audience (thereby representing a longer term reminder of your services or products).
  • A contents listing on the cover, perhaps in a side margin, is a useful way to help readers get straight to the articles that most interest them and to see what’s on offer at a glance.
  • Encourage other readers to sign up to your newsletter list by including a simple means of doing so (perhaps in the corner of the cover using a contact email address or mini form — or a link to an online sign-up).
  • Include one or more ‘fun’ items in every newsletter issue, for example a competition. Prizes are good but make sure they’re genuine and fair and that details are published for any winners in the next issue; after all, news of winners is great PR.
  • Don’t forget CTAs (calls to action) and ways that readers can, of course, contact you easily for more information.

Printing options

Printed newsletters can have Read more

Printed leaflets, flyers and hand-outs

Printed Leaflets, Flyers & Hand-outs as a Marketing Tool

Printed leaflets, flyers and hand-outs

As a marketing tool, leaflets, flyers and hand-outs can represent exceptional value for money; they’re simple in format (usually being based on a double-sided printed sheet), are seldom complex in terms of content and can be printed particularly economically. Their unit cost can actually be minimal – as low as just a few pence each – when the volume, material and size are all just right.

Design

If you’re putting together a leaflet, flyer or hand-out (we’ll simply refer to all 3 as leaflets from this point as they’re essentially all the same kind of thing), think about what kind of ‘feel’ you want them to have. This is from a ‘design’ point of view as well as from a ‘materials’ perspective.

With regard to design you need to consider whether you want the leaflet to feel upmarket, business-like, cheap and cheerful or somewhere in between. This feel, of course, will speak volumes about the product or service being featured, so it needs to be carefully considered. A good graphic designer will be able to pitch the design just right and, if you don’t have your own designer, let us know as our own graphic design team will be happy to help you. You can also check out the design tips in our Top 10 Tips for Design post and don’t forget that it’s important to get your text and overall message communication right so also check out our Copy Writing Tips.

Paper

With regard to material used, consider whether a high-quality finish and substantial paper thickness are preferred or whether the lowest cost possible is more important. Often it’ll be somewhere between the two so you end up with a quality feel but at an affordable price. Talk to us at Firstpoint Print and we’ll be able to suggest some excellent paper/stock that not only gives excellent print results but is also looks and feels the part, without breaking the bank.

Coated paper options include matt, silk and gloss finishes while uncoated paper can give the whole job a completely different feel; perhaps a contemporary, trendy feel that’s a little more organic and less corporate than coated counterparts. Uncoated paper is often great for promoting products and services that are ‘outdoorsy’ or ‘natural’ in some way (including eco-friendly products) as well as trendy clothing, jewellery and other lifestyle products. Coated papers are usually more suited to things like corporate services, household products, images that need more visual ‘punch’ and greater detail or clarity.

“As a marketing tool, leaflets, flyers and hand-outs can represent exceptional value for money.”

Cost considerations

Perhaps surprisingly, coated papers are often cheaper than uncoated papers, particularly when it comes to those seemingly ‘uncoated’ stocks that, in reality, have a special surface treatment that’s added in order to improve printing results.

Thin paper weights are also generally cheaper than thicker papers. However, while thinner papers will save money, the feeling of quality will diminish if the paper is too thin. So a considered balance is needed, particularly for leaflets that are there primarily to promote high price tag products and services — you wouldn’t want to devalue those with a poor paper choice. Read more

Top 10 tips for tip-top printing

Top 10 Tips for Tip-Top Printing

Top 10 tips for tip-top printing

Following publication of our design tips in the last post, it made sense to put together our top tips for successful printing too. After all, what use is great design and communication if the printing lets it down.

Although the ultimate process of putting ink onto paper is down to the skills of your chosen printer, there are a whole host of things you can do, before handover, to give your job the very best chance of looking great once printed.

1. First, read our ‘Top 10 Tips for Great Design’ post

… from earlier this month.

Why? It’s jam-packed full of tips to make the content, message and look of your piece absolutely as good as it can be. Here’s the link.

2. Use the right software

Why? Because professional printing works best with professional design and artwork software. Some of the higher end settings and functions are simply not available with ‘desk-top publishing’ software, while ‘Office’ applications like Word for Windows are simply not designed for use with high-end printing. If in doubt, use the services of a professional graphic designer — or indeed a printer who has them in-house, like Firstpoint Print.

3. Check your images are saved correctly

Resolution needs to be at least 300dpi (dots per inch, which is effectively the same thing as pixels per inch or ppi).

Related: If images include ‘rasterised’ text (text saved as an image rather than as editable text), also make sure that the resolution is 300dpi or more, at the final size.

Why? This will ensure that the images and rasterised text are sharp and legible. Anything less than 300dpi will make them look soft, fuzzy or, even worse, pixels will show on the final printing. Better still for text, use ‘real’ text or ‘vectorised’ text instead of rasterised text — see below …

4. Check your font settings

Before handing over artwork files, make sure any ‘live’ fonts are either 100% embedded or converted to vectors (‘outlined’ as it’s known in professional artwork packages like Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator).

Why? Failure to do so may result in unintended font substitutions or even missing or unexpected characters appearing in the final printing.

5. Check your image modes

Coloured images like photographs need to be in CMYK mode, not RGB or Indexed Colour.

Why? Leaving them in RGB may result in Read more

Top 10 Tips for Design

Top 10 Tips for Design

Top 10 design tips

Whether you’re designing your own sales or marketing material, or getting a professional to do it for you, there are some important factors to bear in mind during the creative process. Getting them right will improve the visual appeal of the piece, speed up the understanding of the message or offer you’re trying to communicate and increase your Return On Investment (R.O.I.) in terms of both time and monetary cost. So, here are our Top 10 Tips for making your design a resounding success.

1. Don’t rush it

Take it carefully and methodically. Rushing your sales or marketing piece will not lend itself to great design, nor to clear communication of your message.

2. What’s the message?

Before you even start looking at the design and feel of your sales or marketing collateral, carefully consider exactly what overall message, service or offer you are trying to communicate. It may be obvious to you, but you need to make sure it’s crystal clear to prospects who are not aware of your product or service. So, make it clear and make it appealing.

3. Get your copy right

Your text, also known as ‘copy’, needs to be just right, before you start designing. Distil it down, keep it simple — you have only seconds, or fractions of seconds for your audience to decide whether to read on or to simply ignore your attempt to communicate. Aim for something punchy and easy to digest, even at a quick glance. Your copy needs to be balanced well, including your main headline, sub-headings, body text and any bullet points. Including those elements can help someone to understand your service or offer even at a glance — people are usually in a hurry. Read more

Printed wall graphics, photos, illustrations, pictures and wallpaper

Printed Wall Graphics

Printed wall graphics, photos, illustrations, pictures and wallpaper

Firstpoint Print offers a wide variety of options when it comes to wall graphics. Whether you simply need large photographs and illustrations printed off for display in your lounge, offices, receptions and corridors, or full commercial graphics including a sales or marketing message, large format wall graphics are eye-catching and highly effective, yet affordable. And, because we can print anything you want, each wall graphic can be totally bespoke to you.

Photographs and Illustrations

Stretched canvas printsPerhaps you have a family photo you’d like printed out on canvas and stretched over a wooden frame to form a modern wall display. Or maybe you’ve taken a shine to a commercial photograph or illustration that you’ve found in a high resolution online photo library (some can be amazing quality, yet very inexpensive). Either way, Firstpoint print are able to print it out, on a choice of different substrates, including different textures, ready to be mounted flat, stretched like a canvas picture or framed in a more traditional way. It’s a quick, easy and economical way to jazz up an otherwise nondescript expanse of wall, and can totally transform a room.

Commercial Communications & Signage

From time to time, companies, venues and organisations may require large advertisements and sales messages for display on office or outlet walls. We can design and print posters, framed graphics, mounted graphics, information graphics and any large graphics you can think of. Perhaps you run a café or restaurant and need a poster/advert to catch the eye of your customers when they sit down to eat or drink — a special offer perhaps. Or maybe you run an activity centre of some kind and need some informational content displayed (for example, Health & Safety instructions). Or perhaps you have a retail outlet and need a store guide or store signage printed out, mounted to a rigid backing and attached to the wall, so your customers know where to find particular items. It’s all possible with a simple print-out using our large format printers.

Wall Paper, Murals & Backdrops

Wall-Graphics-wallpaperIt’s even possible for us to print out huge images in sections, for example as floor-to-ceiling strips, which can be adhered onto a wall in the same way as wallpaper. So, an entire expanse of wall can thereby be turned into an enormous graphic, advert, mural or photographic scene. This is a useful and extremely effective way to totally transform a room and ‘trick the eye’ (the meaning behind the term ‘trompe l’oeil’), or even for use as a backdrop in a commercial shoot or movie scene. 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

Lamination, encapsulation & varnishing your printing

Lamination vs. Encapsulation vs. Varnishing

Lamination, encapsulation & varnishing your printing

Once you’ve decided on a design for your sales and marketing literature and the artwork is ready, consider what finish you will have on the final print. This can make a huge difference to both the look and feel of the final printed document. Will gloss look good, or would matt look better? Should it be used all over, from edge to edge, or only in certain ‘spot’ areas? From a technical point of view, should it be varnished, laminated or encapsulated? Which printing/finishing process will give you the desired result, without breaking the bank?

What’s the difference?

Lamination

Lamination involves sealing a very thin lamina (whole sheet) of clear plastic, under significant pressure, to the front and/or back of a sheet of paper, card or board. So the entire surface of the stock is covered in the laminated plastic. The most common types of lamination are ‘gloss, which is very glossy, ‘matt’, which has a lovely silky feel and a soft, matt appearance, and finally ‘soft-touch’ lamination, which is most similar to matt lamination but has a slight rubbery feel to it – it’s quite a tactile thing, which is subtle but pleasant.

Varnish

Varnishing (specifically machine varnishing) usually involves a liquid varnish being ‘printed’ just as if it were a liquid ink like black. If it’s an overall varnish, no plate is required. If it’s a ‘spot’ varnish, then a printing plate will be needed just as it would if the varnish was a coloured ink. So this difference will affect the price a little. (There are now also some digital versions of varnishing now available and, as we know with most digital printing, no plates are required). ‘Machine’ varnishes can be matt, silk or gloss, however traditional ‘litho’ machine varnishes tend to be more muted than “UV varnish”, which is described below …

UV Varnish

UV varnish is a more specialist type of varnish. It is most commonly seen in a glossy finish and the gloss is so glossy that it is difficult to tell it apart from gloss lamination.** UV varnishing is more expensive than ‘machine’ varnish, as it’s a slightly more complex printing technique, but the effect is way more dramatic. 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

30 Great Printing Resources (part 1)

30 Great Printing Resources (Part 1)

30 Great Printing Resources (part 1)

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

Looking back at some of our older blog posts, it’s clear that we have some pretty good printing-related guides and resources on the site. So, we thought we’d pull them all together in a handy ready-reference for our readers — a complete library of useful print-related resources at your fingertips. These tips, tricks and technical guides cover things like creating better design, preparing technically correct artwork, using the most appropriate colour spaces and generally making better choices to ensure that you get the very best outcome from every printed job. Some guides are even downloadable for you to keep. Here are the first 15 of 30 guides …

1. A Guide to Preparing Print-Ready Artwork:

One of the most important and popular guides on our site: how to prepare print-ready artwork that is technically correct in its set-up, to give you the very best printed results. View or download the PDF guide here. Also, see #13 below.

2. The Best PDF Settings for Your Artwork

Covering similar ground to #1 above, but in far more detail, we next have a guide to the settings that you should use when saving your artwork in PDF format. View or download the PDF guide here. More information is also available to read online here.

3. The Difference Between CMYK and RGB

A guide explaining the difference between CMYK and RGB colour modes and when to use each, for example when saving your full colour images. View or download the PDF guide here. More information can also be read online here and here.

4. Digital vs. Litho Printing

At Firstpoint Print we’re lucky enough to have both litho (or ‘lithographic’) and digital printing. But which technology is best for your particular print job? View or download the PDF guide here. More information is also available here and here.

5. Using Transparency in your Printing

Modern page layout and image manipulation software now allows you to control the level of transparency in your images and artwork layers. However, there are some pitfalls to avoid if you’re intending to print with transparency effects. View or download the PDF guide here. More information is also available to read online here. 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