How Print Marketing Can Work For You (Part 1: First Steps)
Here’s the scenario: You own or work for a small business and you want to create a compelling marketing piece to reach your customers. But where do you start? How do you make sure that the piece will be effective and give you a return on your investment? Read on for an overview on how to get started on your printing journey.Every year, the SLO Credit Union sends out a surprising and fun holiday card.The printing industry has been around since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450. Over the years, it has progressed and changed but not as drastically as it has in more recent years. Advancing technologies, from the Internet to variable printing, have completely transformed the industry. And print buying has had to wise-up to accommodate shrinking budgets.So how do you get the most from your printed materials? The answer varies depending on the type of piece you want to print and how you want it distributed. To get you started, let’s ask some very important questions.Initial questionsPeople often make the mistake of designing a printed piece before they consider the printing variables, delivery methods and the limitations of each process. There are some things to think about before starting the design process. First, the basics: Start from the end and work backward.Ask yourself these key questions:– Who is your target audience?– What appeals to them?– How will you deliver this piece to them? (Will it be mailed? Will it be handed out?)QuantityYou must begin by assigning a quantity, or by figuring out how many people you want to get the printed piece. Some places that quantity could come from are a database list of customers, a mailing list vendor that can pull targeted lists, or just a list of people attending an event.Once you have an idea of the quantity you need, you can decide which printing process makes sense for your project. Two main options are: Offset printing or digital printing. There are other printing processes but we’ll focus on these two for this article.Offset PrintingIf you need a higher quantity, then offset printing will be more economical. The more final pieces you order, the lower your unit cost will be. This is because the majority of printing costs are in the preparation and set up of printing presses, so once that amount is covered, the more you print, the less it costs to produce each piece.Digital PrintingIf you need a lower quantity, digital printing is the most cost-effective solution because it doesn’t require as much set up as offset printing. As with offset printing, as your quantity increases, your unit price decreases. However, digital printing at a certain high quantity costs more than offset because of the click charges that every digital machine accumulates and owes the company who handles their service contract.A benefit that this method offers is variable printing which, if used in an effective way, can be a great way to reach your target audience. Include their name or a custom message on each piece to cater it to the person receiving the piece. Digital printing is limited on the range of paper substrates that it can print on because it cannot print on certain thicknesses and textures. Also, the registration is looser so it is best to design elements that don’t need tight registration such as borders and cross overs. Color can also be unpredictable with digital printing. If you are not sure what elements will print well, it is a good idea to contact your printer to get recommendations before starting design of a piece.Once you answer the above key questions, determine your quantity, and decide which printing process you want to use, then you can move on and design the piece and deliver it.Stay tuned for Part 2 of this three-part series, which will help you design a smart piece to get you the most out of your marketing.For your direct-mail needs, contact us at [email protected] Read more about Michelle here.