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Spring is coming - freshen up your design, printing & marketing!

Freshen Up for Spring Promotions!

Spring is coming - freshen up your design, printing & marketing!

It’s time to put our marketing hats on for March, which promises to be a very busy month indeed. The new spring season starts on 1 March by the meteorological and climatological calendars, or on 20th March, the official Spring Equinox, if you’re going by the astronomical calendar.

Then, on the 26th of March, there are two further milestones. Firstly, the clocks go forward due to the Daylight Saving Hours and secondly, it’s Mother’s Day!

Spring clean your sales & marketing collateral

Whichever way you look at it, March is a time to gear up a notch or two on your sales and marketing campaigns because, officially at least, winter is all but over! Perhaps it’s a good time for a spring clean of all your sales and marketing collateral — it’s a great time to freshen them up, particularly if they’re now looking tired and “so last season“!

Update your imagery

With the snowdrops and daffodils already out and other flowers appearing any day, it’s a sure sign that you need to put some colour and life into your marketing literature to reflect the coming season. Promotions & marketing for Mother's DayFlowers, sunshine, blue skies and cheery birds will be the order of the day for many marketing campaigns when it comes to imagery. Bear this in mind for pack shots, lifestyle photography and promotional illustrations because ‘mood’ and ‘feel’ are all important for marketing literature. What’s more, there will be no getting away from flowers for Mother’s Day promotions either, when it arrives on the 26th.

Make the most of the marketing milestones

If you’re in charge of marketing concepts, content and design, always try to work out how you can piggy-back the various milestones from a marketing perspective … but plan ahead or you’ll simply miss the boat!

So, the message is: make the most of every opportunity and ensure that your business or organisation looks the part for the new season.

Perfect printing for promotions

Marketing departments for shops and businesses selling lifestyle-related products or services may need to start thinking about leaflets, flyers, brochures and perhaps even catalogues to show off their new spring offerings. Printed banners for spring marketing promotionsWindows can also display posters and banners for any spring sales or product launches. Pubs, cafés and restaurants should start thinking about 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

Start your Valentine's Day promotion NOW!

Start Your Valentine’s Day Promotion NOW!

Start your Valentine's Day promotion NOW!

Valentine’s Day will be here shortly so make sure you’re in with a chance of benefiting from the new business that it can bring! There’s not a moment to lose — start preparing your marketing promotions right now — or it’ll be too late.

Restaurants, gift shops, florists and jewellers will be the key beneficiaries at this time as girlfriends, boyfriends, partners, husbands and wives book romantic tables for two and exchange cards, jewellery, gifts and flowers, all in the name of love.

Printed Flyers, Leaflets & Posters

Own a restaurant? Hand out your flyers and leaflets in the high street, or deliver them door to door to promote your Valentine’s Day menus. Before you know it, you’ll be fully booked! Let us know, of course, if you need help getting them designed and printed professionally — that’s what we do best, here at Firstpoint Print, London.

Promotional flyers, postcards, leaflets & postersJewellers and gift shops can do something similar to highlight the gorgeous jewellery, sparkly gifts and cuddly toys that go down so well on the day. Leaflets, flyers and strategically placed posters are a great way to put the spotlight on great gift ideas and any special offers.

Printed Postcards

High gloss or silky-matte postcards depicting beautifully shot products can also fulfil a similar purpose, with panache. Include discounts, voucher codes and special offers to maximise the effect and improve the success of your Valentine’s Day promotion.

Hanging Banners

If you run a restaurant or gastro pub, you will also benefit from displaying a hanging banner, announcing that you’re taking bookings for Valentine’s Day, right outside your venue. They’re quick and easy to display, are sure to catch the eye, and can be used again next year. Firstpoint Print would be delighted to supply them – it’s all part of the large format design and printing service we offer.

Printed Greetings Cards

When it comes to the romantic celebrations, nearly any type of business can see an increase in business if they play their cards right – literally perhaps – and plan ahead. A printed Valentine’s Day card arriving through one’s letterbox on the romantic day itself is sure to be opened and read — unlike most junk mail. So if that card is, in reality, your carefully crafted promotional piece, masquerading as a Valentine’s card, then you’re already ahead of the game and you just got noticed! Read more

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

Hit the ground running with a January promotion

Hit the Ground Running with a January Promotion!

Hit the ground running with a January promotion

Why not hit the ground running for the New Year with a January promotion. Whether it’s a mini catalogue announcing your sale prices, or printed flyers to hand out in town to get people to your store, the New Year is a great time to boost your bottom line. Not only is the New Year like a ‘new slate’ but many people will also have received money or vouchers for Christmas so will be on the look-out for a real bargain.

The January sales are also a great time to offload any overstocked goods that didn’t sell out at Christmas, so thinking of creative ways to garner customer sales and also clear space for new stock is a multiple win. Printed leaflets, vouchers and perhaps mini printed catalogues showing your special offers or sale pricing are sure to increase visitors, generate retail sales and add to your profits.

Ways to gain extra sales

Aside from the ideas above, other ways to generate customer interest and sales include:

  • Offering bundle deals – for example bundle up a few products together, with an overall saving, to offer great value overall whilst also off-loading some items that might not have previously sold well.
  • Offering B.O.G.O.F. (buy one get one free) or ‘3 for 2’ deals and similar will shift more stock while also giving your customers a great deal.
  • Cross-sell. So if you’re selling notepads, for example, offer savings on pens, erasers, rulers and pencils if bought at the same time.
  • Encourage people to subscribe to news and updates by including sign up forms on your printed literature. Mailing lists are worth their weight in gold and keep customers coming back to buy more and more, sometimes for years, when you use them to best effect (e.g. via newsletters, e-news, direct mailings).
  • Encourage people to sign up to voucher schemes or loyalty cards, for example, by having a draw for one lucky new subscriber each month. Make the benefits clear on your printed literature and publicise the win each time for added PR effect.
  • Maximise brand recognition. So, keep your brand visible and presented consistently so that people remember it and identify with it in the future. Brand recognition and a good corporate identity are important marketing assets for any business, service or product.
  • Publicise your special promotion with printed flyers, posters for your store windows, email campaigns and don’t forget to offer voucher codes for online sales.

How we can help:

We can help to maximise your New Year promotions by supplying excellent design and economical, high quality printing — or alternatively supply your own artwork if you have your own in-house design service. With digital, litho and large format printing all available in-house within the Firstpoint Print Group, we can supply pretty much any kind of printing. Moreover, that mixture of printing hardware means you receive the very best process for each particular job, the lowest pricing for the quantity you need and the fastest turnaround.

If you decide to go ahead with a January promotion, just a few of the things we can design and print for you include: 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.

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

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

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