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Your Marketing Calendar for 2017

Your marketing calendar for 2017

Your calendar can be an amazing source of marketing opportunities. Keeping your eye on key dates throughout the year will help you to keep up with the larger companies and organisations that use carefully timed marketing communications as a matter of course. So, just thirty or so minutes spent with your calendar, or 10 reading this post, can help you to hit the ground running and kick-start a carefully orchestrated marketing strategy for the year. A couple of examples will demonstrate some of the many opportunities that you’ll discover through such an exercise then, below those, we include suggestions for a full marketing calendar for the year as a whole. If you find this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it!

Valentine’s Day Promotions

At time of writing it’s mid January so, right now, you could be gearing up for a Valentine’s Day promotion in just under a month’s time. For example, come February 14th, I for one would open what I perceive to be a Valentine’s Day card if it arrived through my post box on that day. I’d open it for sure whereas I would ignore most other ‘non-themed’ junk mail, of the nature that arrives every day. Think of your corporate Valentine’s card — and most of the other ideas below — like they are a Trojan Horse; you are grabbing attention for your marketing or sales message under the guise of something people actually want to open and read! It’s a sneaky, but ingenious marketing approach.

Easter Promotions

During February, you could be thinking about an Easter promotion timed for March, helped along with images of eggs, Easter bunnies and little yellow chicks! Consider, perhaps, use of those popular little puns in your marketing headlines (for example, “We’re Egg-cited to Announce …” and so on). In case you were wondering, Good Friday falls on 14 April this year, with Easter Sunday on 16 April and Easter Monday on the 17th.

Those are just two of the many, many timely marketing opportunities that present themselves to you every year, if you think ahead and plan for them.

An At-a-glance Marketing Calendar for the Year as a Whole:

  • 1 January: consider a New Year’s Day or general New Year promotion come January 1st.
  • January itself is the start of the traditional sale season and is a great marketing opportunity (see our last post).
  • 25 January 2017:  consider a Burns Night promotion for your Scottish clients and prospects.
  • 28 January 2017: consider a Chinese New Year promotion (2017 is going to be ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’).
  • 14 February 2017: make the most of a Valentine’s Day promotion.
  • 28 February 2017: possibly launch a Shrove Tuesday promotion, particularly if your niche involves food.
  • 17 March 2017: St Patrick’s Day could be a promotion opportunity for any Irish clients.
  • 26 March 2017: consider a Mother’s Day promotion.
  • 1 April: an April Fools’ Day promotion could be fun!
  • 14 April to 17 April 2017: make the most of Easter for another promotion.
  • 22 April: an Earth Day promotion could be useful for ‘green’ promotions.
  • 23 April: a St George’s Day promotion perhaps.
  • 1 May and 29 May 2017: consider a couple of ‘Bank Holiday’ promotions – perhaps a sale.
  • 18 June 2017: Father’s Day presents itself for possible promotions.
  • 7 and 28 August 2017: some August Bank Holiday promotions perhaps – again, maybe a bank holiday sale.
  • 31 October: it’s Halloween so theme your promotion accordingly.
  • 5 November: a Guy Fawkes Night promotion could help your marketing go off with a bang!
  • 23 November 2017: Thanksgiving promotions for your American client base perhaps.
  • 24 November 2017: Black Friday and …
  • 27 November 2017: Cyber Monday promotions can really make the most of people’s shopping sprees in the run-up to Christmas, particularly while they’re in spending mode.
  • 25-26 December: plan a Christmas and/or Boxing Day promotion to grab those last minute sales.
  • 31 December: a Hogmanay promotion for your Scottish audience perhaps.

Promotions Around a Key Moment in Time

The list could go on, including marketing activity timed to Read more

Logo and corporate identity design

The Importance of Great Logo & Corporate Identity Design

Logo and corporate identity design

A great logo and corporate identity is probably one of the most important investments a company or organisation can make. After all, the logo and the accompanying visual ‘identity’ are one of the first things prospective customers will see. As such, they’ll send out an overall impression about that company or organisation and prospects will use it to form a near instant judgement — and usually one that sticks. A well-designed, modern logo and visual branding will usually lead the onlooker to naturally assume that the organisation in question is professional and modern. In stark contrast, an untidy, poorly designed or outdated logo will have the opposite effect. So it’s important to get it right — first impressions tend to stick and the long-term health of the organisation is at stake if you get it wrong.

Logos & Corporate Identities – What’s the Difference?

First, though, a clarification; the logo is the symbol associated with the company or organisation, whereas the corporate identity refers to the wider visual look associated with that organisation (think of it as the branding). That visual identity actually includes the logo but also governs the ‘house’ colours, fonts and design style that go with it. By using a house style in a predefined way, everything associated with the company or organisation has the same feel and look, so naturally builds brand awareness and a cohesive approach to communication and marketing for the organisation in question. One only has to think about the branding for large organisations like The National Trust, Coca-Cola, Heinz and Virgin to see how they each have a particular house style, each with their own corporate colours, fonts, visual style and logo.

Corporate Design Manuals

In fact, many companies and organisations produce a ‘corporate design manual’ which is a complete guide to their visual corporate identity. It will usually contain a guide, including examples, of how to use — and how not to use — firstly, the logo. This will include colours, proportions, positioning of the logo, logo variants (for example the logo as used on a white background and a perhaps different variant of it for use on dark backgrounds) and rules governing the minimum space that should appear around the logo and so on. Corporate manuals also include similar sections outlining the rules for house fonts, house colours and even house layout styles for such things as letterheads, compliments slips, business cards and other stationery, brochures, adverts and so on. By carefully setting up the design rules and, through corporate manuals, making sure they’re adhered to wherever in the world they’re used, businesses and organisations enhance their brand awareness and become more quickly recognised.

Buying Into Your Brand

Indeed, some brands have this all down to such a fine art that people identify with the brand and are proud to show the world that they own that company’s products. Apple products are a classic example of this. Nike trainers, with their famous tick mark, are another — many people like to be seen with such things in their possession, almost like a status symbol. Yet another example is Beats headphones with their funky, modern but simple ‘b’ logo. Now imagine that last example with a boring old ‘b’ using Times New Roman or Courier instead and you’ll quickly see how that whole offering could have failed miserably … and that’s an example using just one letter as a logo! When your corporate identity and logo offering expertly encourage ‘buying into the brand’, that buying in by your target market will quite literally lead to more sales and increased profits.

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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

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.

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Your one-stop print shop

Your One-Stop Print Shop

Your one-stop print shop

Sometimes as a businesses, organisation or individual, you need something simple printed, like a business card. Another time you might need some brochures or flyers produced. A month or two later you might need a roller banner or some display panels printed for an exhibition. Or a newsletter or catalogue professionally designed and produced. But who do you go to for all of these different types of printing and the associated design and artwork for each – a different supplier each time?

The good news is that Firstpoint Print can do it all! And they can do it all in-house. So prices are kept extremely competitive and both speed and quality control are optimised.

We are, quite simply, a one-stop print shop and can pretty much produce any printed article that you can to think of, all in-house. And, as a group of several London branches all operating under the same Firstpoint Print umbrella, we have even more resources to pull in, should we need them. So customers receive a very economical and flexible print and design solution.

We are graphic designers

If you need the help of graphic designers to make your printed sales and marketing collateral look a million dollars, we have a team ready and waiting. They’re experienced, qualified and expert in preparing design and artwork ready for printing, so that your sales or marketing message is delivered in the very best possible way.

If you have your own design and artwork capability, that’s no problem either. We can accept your artwork or finalise it for you if it simply needs a final check-over.

We are digital printers

We have state-of-the-art digital printing facilities in-house, ready to turn around your printed items in no time at all, to an excellent standard of quality. Digital printing is available in black and white or full colour (“CMYK”). Our digital printing service is ideally suited to fast turnaround, low-to-medium quantities. But, if you need larger volumes, that’s not a problem; read on …

We are litho printers

The Firstpoint Print Group also has lithographic (‘litho’) printing, in-house. This represents the ultimate in print quality and is suited to higher volume printing, where the economies of scale can really bring down unit costs, as well as being suited to ‘spot colour’ printing for when Pantone-accurate spot colour work is essential (spot colour can, for example, allow the printing of metallic colours and more saturated or even fluorescent inks, which are simply not possible with digital printing).

We are large format printers

Each of the Firstpoint Print London branches also has in-house large format printing facilities. These are perfect for when you need something way bigger than a brochure or some stationery. Our large format printing service can produce anything from posters to roller banners and even large-scale exhibition displays, stand backdrops and pop-up exhibition systems.

We offer a full print management service

Taking things a stage further, we even offer a full print management service. So if you don’t have the time or inclination to organise your design and print, we can take it all on for you. 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

Adding value and improving ROI with personalised printing

Adding Value with Personalised Printing

Adding value and improving ROI with personalised printing

Imagine, for a minute, that you’re visiting a conference, trade fair, or are meeting a supplier and they hand you a full colour printed brochure or catalogue that addresses you by name, right there on the cover as part of the beautifully printed and designed graphics. Not only does that give you a great first impression, which alone is priceless, but it also says a lot about the person or organisation handing it over to you. They did their research. They thought ahead. They are proactive. They are highly organised and professional — and they did this just for you. They really want to work with you. You are important to them.

So, already, you have a good feeling about the possible partnership. Let’s take this a step further though; if you open the catalogue, booklet or manual and continue to see your name or company name mentioned, the impression is even greater. The people that handed it to you really want to do business with you!

Now imagine that the piece of literature has elements of graphics, text and information in it that only applies to you and your organisation — and no other. Perhaps your company logo is even featured in the printing. This is one piece of sales or marketing literature that you are not going to discard in a hurry! Although it is professionally designed and printed, there is stuff in there that is for you — and you alone. These guys really mean business!

This is personalised printing at its very best

We mentioned Personalised Printing in our ‘Variable Data Printing’ post before but here we’re building on that to show the types of ‘real world’ use such personalised printing allows — ultra close targeting leading to incredibly high engagement levels. Now that’s impressive — and represents just the kind of return on investment you should be looking for from your sales and marketing literature. Sales and marketing collateral that delivers. When planned and executed well, it delivers an exceptional first impression and much warmer prospects. Prospects that are far more likely to convert into customers, or repeat customers. 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