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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

Print & Design Support for Your Marketing Campaigns

Printing & design for marketing departments

So let’s assume you’ve got your marketing strategy in place, have written your copy and you are now ready to start production of each marketing piece.

Design & Artwork

Now you need some great design to back up your marketing message. If your company or organisation has it’s own in-house design team, then great. If not, you need look no further than our own graphic design team, which is on tap for you whenever you need it, here at Firstpoint Print. Our designers would be happy to take your brief and turn it into something attractive and eye-catching, communicating your message in just the right way for your target audience. On your approval of the design, they’ll finalise the finished artwork files for you, ready for the printing stage.

Printing

There is printing … and there is great printing. After investing time, money and effort to get this far, it would be a great shame to cut corners and rush things at the final hurdle. So it’s worth taking a moment to think about the most appropriate printing processes, paper and finishes to be used for your marketing pieces — rather than rushing in and wasting the opportunity. As we’ve said in previous posts, putting thought into the extra touches and detail can make a huge difference to that all-important first impression — and you only get one chance to do that!

“putting thought into the extra touches … can make a huge difference to that all-important first impression”

Firstpoint Print can help more than most other printers because we have both litho printing (for total Pantone colour matching accuracy and larger print volumes) and digital printing (for fast-turnaround jobs and low-to-medium quantities). We also have in-house large format printing for those extra large print-outs like posters, in-store displays, roller banners and exhibition panels. So, with all those facilities available within the Firstpoint Print group, we can *optimally* print pretty much anything — just one supplier, for all your sales and marketing literature. The mixture of different printing processes also ensures that you get the best possible pricing and the most appropriate process for each printed piece.

“the best possible pricing and the most appropriate process for each printed piece.”

What types of marketing pieces can we print?

It would almost be easier to say what types of marketing collateral we can’t print – as there are so few – but here’s a list of Read more

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

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

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

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