Saturday, October 15, 2016

Finishing in Style: What Happens After Printing?

There is one department in our company that you don’t often hear about… our bindery. This is where we take printed sheets to finish the job. There are often many small operations that need to be completed before the job is ready to be delivered. Even though they are small, together they combine to insure the final product has a professional appearance.
The bindery in our company is where we create the final product from flat printed sheets; products like a folded brochure, a booklet or pad, a spiral bound manual, or a ticket with perforations to make a tear-off stub. The bindery is where we trim business cards to final size and trim the edges of booklets to make them even. It’s where we apply the glue that makes individual sheets of carbonless paper into a set. We also package the order and do the final quality control check. So even though we rarely mention the bindery when talking to you about a project, it is a very important part of the process.

Bindery Equipment

Almost all bindery functions can be performed in one of three ways: by hand (meaning the work is done manually without the aid of machines); with machines after printing is complete (also called offline); and with machines in conjunction with printing (also called inline). Most inline bindery functions are performed by digital printers. Some can collate, fold, staple, and make booklets all at once, in a row, so the product comes out completely finished. When the machines are operating at top speed, it is fascinating to watch – the machine operator loads sheets of paper at one end of the machine, and unloads completed products at the delivery end.

Our standalone bindery equipment offers more than just greater speed. It produces a superior completed product when compared to finishing by hand, such as you might perform in your office. Taken a single sheet at a time, paper is fairly easy to manipulate manually. But create a stack of paper, and the conditions change dramatically.

For example, although it is easy to cut a single sheet of paper with scissors, a stack of paper needs to be cut by a blade. Our precision cutter not only has a blade, it also has a clamp to hold the stack in place while the cut is made. And the knife does not drop straight down; instead, it drops at an angle like a guillotine, smoothly slicing its way through the stack of paper in one sweeping motion.

Our folder is another example of producing a superior product. The folds are made when the sheet of paper is forced against a plate where it buckles, then through rollers to flatten the fold. This process creates the tight fold characteristic of a mechanical fold and is nearly impossible to duplicate by hand. In addition, the feed mechanism on the folder sends each sheet into the machine in precisely the same way, without skew and at evenly spaced intervals. The result is a consistently perfect fold no matter how fast the machine is running.

Allowing for Bindery

You will get the best results for your project if you understand that some bindery functions require an adjustment to the layout of the document file. The three most common are allowances for trimming, folding, and document binding.

  • Trimming: If your document contains an image, line or solid color that extends all the way to the edge of the sheet, this is called a bleed. The layout will need to be adjusted because printers and presses can’t print to the edge of a sheet. What looks like printing to the edge is really a printed image that has been extended past the edge of the sheet, then trimmed to the final size. The standard allowance for a bleed is 1/8 inch beyond the finished size. Take a look at the example above.
  • Booklet-making: Booklets consisting of more than three flat sheets can present a problem known as shingling or page creep. To illustrate page creep, fold ten sheets of paper in half. Gather book. Examine the booklet’s outer right hand edge. Notice that the pages are uneven (shingled). This is the result of page creep. To eliminate the unevenness, the final step in making a booklet is to trim the face (the outer right hand edge). If there has not been an adjustment for page creep, it is possible that text, page numbers, or other images might be trimmed away during face trimming. Making exact adjustments for page creep requires complicated mathematical computations. We use professional software for the computation and layout adjustment to eliminate the possibility of cutting something critical off.
  • Folding: When preparing a document like a tri-fold brochure, remember that the size of panels that fold to the inside must be slightly smaller to produce a completely flat and even fold. Reduce the width of the panel that folds in by at least 1/8 inch. Remember that the position of the inside panel changes from the front to the back. In the example above, the inner panel moves from the left to the right depending on whether you are working on the outside or inside of the finished brochure.
Shift the margin to make sure all information is clearly visible.
No margin shift means important information could be obscured.
  • Drilling/Punching: To put holes in paper for binding or inserting into a 3-ring binder, we may use a spindle drill (similar to a wood drill) or a punch. When you are setting the margins for an item that will be drilled or punched, you must allow extra space from the edge of the sheet to where the image begins to accommodate the holes. We recommend a half inch clear space for an 8.5 x 11 sheet.  
    Shift the margin to the right for one-sided pages. For two-sided pages, shift right for odd-numbered and left for even-numbered pages. When you don’t shift the margin, a hole could be punched through important information. Take a look at this example where the margin was not shifted.  

DIY or Ask Us for Help

The instructions we’ve given to adjust for trimming, folding, and mechanical binding are standards in the printing industry, so they are worth learning. However,  if the software program you are using doesn’t have the tools to make the adjustments easily, then we suggest you let us do it for you. Please call or email us today for an appointment.

Q&A: I was in your office the day my brochure was on press. Why do I have to wait two more days for the job to be complete?

One of the important rules of bindery is not to handle wet press sheets. After your brochure was printed, we put it on a drying rack to allow the ink to dry thoroughly. The next day we were able to cut down the press sheets, fold, and trim without the risk of smearing or cracking. Then your brochures were packaged and considered ready for delivery. Our policy is to have jobs completely finished, packaged, and ready for delivery to you on the agreed-upon due date.

Folding with the Grain

A fold will be smoother and more resilient when the grain of the paper is parallel to the fold. Paper grain is the direction of the wood fibers in the sheet. Paper folds smoothly with the grain and roughens or cracks against the grain. Paper is also stiffer in the grain direction.
As a rule, we print on the sheet so that folds will be with the grain. When this is not possible, we score or crease the paper fibers to stretch them evenly before folding. Scoring is necessary for all heavy weight papers like cardstock, for some text weight papers like glossy, and when an area of heavy ink coverage crosses through a fold.

Stack of booklets folded against the grain produces a rough broken edge.

Start Right, Finish Right

It’s a common mistake to gloss over the finishing touches, but how your document looks and feels is a matter of great importance. The finishing touches on your project will speak volumes about the overall quality and importance of your document, and may very well be the difference between your efforts ending as a customer sale or in the trash. Many times, purchasing decisions are made solely on appearance. To cinch a customer purchase, the document needs to convey a feeling of reliability and trust.

Before you settle for the cheapest printing solution, consider the finishing touches. They say a lot about the overall quality of the document. Adding a product-appropriate finish to a high-quality paper can create an additional element of professionalism, the feel of quality, and a sense of overall value. The easiest way to take the design and print from amateur to professional is to look the part.

We can help you differentiate your company’s product or service to ensure a great impression. Call today to get started.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Seven Identity Items Every Business Needs

In the past, all sales and marketing materials were printed. Later, the Internet added new ways to reach customers and prospects. Over time, Internet-based marketing replaced some printed materials, enhanced others, and also provided new marketing tools.

No matter what kind of business you have, there remain some basic printed items that all businesses need:

  • The corporate identity package consists of business cards, letterhead and envelopes, note cards and envelopes and mailing labels.
  • Sales material consists of a company brochure, note pads, and a direct mail piece, such as a postcard or newsletter.

The Corporate Identity Package

A corporate identity package is an efficient way to establish brand identity and to provide basic contact information to customers and prospects. An identity system has several specific parts: the overall layout, the fonts, the color palette, and the paper. All work together to create the brand identity. Considering the importance of making a positive and lasting impression on customers and prospects, it is best to have the entire system – business cards, letterhead and envelopes, note cards and envelopes and mailing labels – professionally designed and printed.

When you hand a business card to someone, you are establishing a personal connection, which the recipient will recall later. You’re also putting a face to a name – the corporate brand now has a live person attached to it. Even better, handing out business cards doesn’t require anything from the recipient except the willingness to accept the card.

A business card is actually a very economical form of advertising. If you give out five business cards every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday, a purchase of 500 cards will last for almost four months. And it costs the same to print a professionally designed business card that makes an outstanding impression, as it does to print an ordinary business card that looks like everyone else’s card.

Here is the essential information to include on your business card:

  • Business identification. This includes the business name and logo. Include business contact information such as address, phone number, and website.
  • Individual contact information.
This includes the individual’s name and title, direct phone numbers (land line and mobile), email address, and alternate physical address if the individual does not work at the business location.

By convention, phone numbers are listed in the order of the individual’s preference (i.e., if you prefer to be contacted by cell phone, list that number first).

  • Optional information. If the card is not too crowded, or if it is a fold-over card, additional information such as business tag line, the individual’s photograph, and a list of products and services can also be included.
The design of the other three elements of the corporate identity package should match the business card. The purpose of letterheads and envelopes is to visually express the company’s identity and make a good first impression. As with business cards, this is best achieved with professional design and printing. As desktop color inkjet printers have improved, it is tempting to forego printing a supply of letterhead and envelopes, and instead print as needed. While this may seem easier, it is likely more expensive.

Whenever you need to send something in either a large envelope or a package, you’ll need a mailing label. This is another opportunity to reinforce your professional branding. Make sure the design matches the other elements of your corporate identity system because the mailing label is often the first thing a recipient sees and thus their first impression of your company.

Note cards are many times preferable to using letterhead for writing short letters and thank you notes. They are more personal, especially if handwritten. Even Jimmy Fallon is a big fan of the handwritten note. By matching your other stationery items, it gives your personal note a professional appearance.

Sales and Marketing Materials

The success of any business depends heavily on its sales and marketing effort. A company’s sales staff needs to have collateral material to augment and reinforce prospecting and face-to-face sales activities. The basic elements are a company brochure, a direct mail piece, and note pads.

  • The company brochure introduces the company, and its product or service. It provides the distinctive features and benefits that distinguish your company from the competition. It often provides background information about the company and includes contact information. Common elements include the year the company was founded, list of locations, names, photographs, and brief biographies of founders and key personnel, contact information, mission statement, and a brief corporate history.
  • The direct mail marketing piece could be a postcard, a newsletter, or a mailer with a response device. Its purpose is to introduce something – the company to prospects, or your products and services to both customers and prospects. It also serves as a reminder to customers which keeps the company top of mind. Direct mail marketing pieces should always include a call to action and create a sense of urgency.
  • Note pads are a give-away item that reinforces the company brand and makes your contact info easy to find. Branded notepads are terrific give aways for trade shows or leave behinds after a sales call.
Visually, sales and marketing materials need to be consistent with the corporate identity. This means more than just using the company name and logo. Typography, copy writing style, and color palette should reinforce the corporate identity by conveying the same “look and feel”.

Just like the business stationery package, sales and marketing materials need to be professionally designed and printed. This is especially true when the material is in the form of a folded brochure. To ensure that the brochure lies flat after folding, the width of the individual panels must be adjusted slightly. In addition, folding by machine produces a tighter fold with sharp creases.

Professional Expertise

Part of our professional expertise lies in our design department. Phil Gross trained at Drexel University and has over 7 years of experience. Brigid Kaye trained at The University of Texas and has over 30 years of experience. To schedule an appointment to talk about your corporate identity or sales collateral material, call Brigid at 215-923-2679 or email

Effective Promotion

Brochures remain one of the most effective ways to market your products and services. Brochures are used by businesses of all sizes and are a perfect way to let new customers know what you do and remind existing customers of all that you have to offer.

A popular brochure format is the 8.5 x 11 trifold.

  • Panel 1 is the front cover. It’s the first thing a reader sees, so the copy and images must be compelling enough to get the reader to open it. Sometimes this panel is used as a teaser and may not include the company name or logo.
  • Panel 2 answers the reader’s question “What’s in it for me” – in other words, what are the products or services, how will they solve a problem, improve life, make things better, or otherwise create a recognized benefit.
  • Having established the benefits in Panel 2, Panels 3 and 4 can be used to describe the features and specifications. It may also contain ordering information.
  • Panel 5 presents evidence about the product or service, like a testimonial from a satisfied customer or performance statistics.
  • Panel 6 is the back cover. It can be used to create a sense of urgency (such as limited time offer), to present the call to action (such as redeem this coupon), and describe the next step (such as call now). It is also possible to incorporate a mailing panel into Panel 6.

Q&A: I’m trying to decide between using direct mail or email to introduce my new product. Which one will be most effective?

That’s a tough question. The best answer is both. By using both email and direct mail together, the introduction of your new product is sure to be seen by all on your list either in the mail or the inbox.

If you must choose only one, here are some statistics to consider. According to Pingdom, almost 69% of all email messages are spam. Of the 3.3 billion email accounts worldwide, 75% are registered to consumers and 25% to businesses.

Informatics professor, Gloria Mark from the University of California at Irvine, says one of the main problems with email is that there isn’t an “off” switch, meaning you don’t need to be on it to receive messages. Email piles up, waiting for your attention. This creates a backlog of email in the inbox increasing the likelihood the recipient will delete the email without opening it. According to HubSpot, email open rates are around 25%.
Contrast this with these direct mail statistics. According to the most recently-published study results, 85% of direct mail is at least skimmed before being discarded or saved.
Direct mail marketing read and response rates have been on the rise for the past ten years. One of the main reasons a person doesn’t read a direct mail piece is because of the volume received in a day. Since the amount of direct mail has decreased over the last decade, the average number of households reading their mail has increased. The study results also indicate that about 35% of people say they will respond to a direct mail piece at some point.

Executive Achievement

One of the top tips from HR pros for anyone looking to take a leap up the career ladder is to have a business card. A business card is an essential tool in connecting with others. I’ve heard people say “Business cards are antiquated, it’s better to connect online.” There is no replacement for handing a new contact your business card representing you and your company in a positive light.

Yes, people can easily find you online, but that requires effort. They have to actively go look for you and frankly most people won’t. Why? Because they get distracted, forget your name, forget to look you up or it could be simply that you’re not first on their priority list. With a business card, they’re holding all your information in the palm of their hand. A professional business card sends a subconscious message of executive achievement. Consider it the final touch to a good first impression.

If I can help you make a better first impression with an outstanding business card, please give me a call at 215-923-2679 or email

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Better ROI Using Print with Social Media

Use of social media sites has exploded in the last several years. In 2005, Pew Research Center found that only 2% of adults were using a social media site. Today, it’s increased to over 75%.

Along with this growth, social media has evolved from purely personal to commercial use – a way for people to connect to a business and its fans. Businesses find they can use social media for marketing such as dialoguing with customers, building brand awareness, providing coupons or special offers, and alerting customers to upcoming promotions or product launches.

Social media offers a new way for businesses to connect with customers and leverage customer loyalty to attract new customers. As explained by author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: Psychology of Persuasion, the idea of tapping into the wisdom of the crowd is based on a principle of social influence. Instead of making a decision based on traditional measures, we instead turn to outside influences. Cialdini calls this social proof, which he defines as “the means by which we determine what is correct, by finding out what other people think is correct.”

Direct Mail is Still Relevant

Does the popularity of social networking sites mean that businesses and organizations can drop print and direct mail as marketing tools? Research suggests not. ExactTarget surveyed American online consumers regarding how they prefer to receive marketing messages. They asked how acceptable it is for companies to send unsolicited marketing messages through various channels (e-mail, direct mail, text messaging). Direct mail was the only channel where an unsolicited message was not viewed
as inappropriate.

ExactTarget also found that 65% purchased a product or service after receiving direct mail while only 20% made a purchase after receiving an email message, and only 16% made a purchase prompted by a text message.

The Internet Advertising Bureau commissioned a study to examine how consumers interact with various marketing channels. Results showed that 75% of adult consumers discover new products from off-line sources like word-of-mouth, direct mail, catalogs, and television. After the initial purchase, consumers preferred to be sent catalogs and direct mail as a way for companies to keep them informed.

The basis of social media is fostering a sense of community where fans can build relationships and share with others. This is different from traditional marketing which emphasizes products and services. On social media, you risk alienating fans and provoking negative posts if too much emphasis is on selling, rather than providing something of value.

Social media also requires consistent effort to demonstrate that something valuable is gained by connecting to your business. How much effort? Idealware, a nonprofit organization that helps nonprofits make informed software decisions, estimates that it takes at least two hours per week on each social media channel to see significant marketing results.

Print and Social Media Marketing

If you can only afford to use one marketing channel, we believe it should be direct mail. Here’s why:

  • The marketing message gets to the customer or prospect. You are reaching out, not waiting for someone to find you.
  • You control the message. At a social media site, anyone can say anything, even if it isn’t true.
  • You are competing with fewer messages. These days there is far less competition for your customer’s or prospect’s attention in the mail box.
  • Mail is a physical media. The brain responds differently to physical and digital media. According to a study by Millward Brown, physical media like direct mail leaves a “deeper footprint” in the brain, involves more emotional processing, and produces more brain responses.
  • Longevity. Investing in print and/or direct mail can provide you with a marketing piece that your customer may keep for years.
  • Conveys trust. Marketing is all about perception and conveying trust. According to a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) study, 56% of consumers found print marketing to be the most trustworthy of all media channels. In fact, the study showed that you’re 10% more likely to get a response from mail, rather than email.
  • Inspires action. According to the same DMA study, after receiving direct mail, 44% of consumers will visit a brand’s website and 34% will search online for more information about the product or service.

Better Together

Here are a few tips for making social media and direct mail work together.

  • Make your direct mail piece interactive by adding a QR code. The code could lead to a landing page or survey with a reward for completing it or a YouTube video demonstrating your product or providing instructions.
  • Create a Facebook page for your event. Mail a postcard with a QR code linking to your Facebook page.
  • Start an interest group on LinkedIn, and encourage participation with a postcard.
  • Monitor Twitter conversations about your products or services. Use the topics in your newsletter.
According to Stephen Brown, Chief Innovation Officer at Cookerly Public Relations, “A great printed piece is one you want to spend time with. It has more value and permanence. When it’s passed on to others, it’s a sure sign that the content is quality.” Brown goes on to say that postcards are one of the staples of Cookerly’s public relations strategies. For events, postcards are still a great way to cut through the clutter, especially when timeliness is a factor. Successful businesses are embracing a multi-channel approach to marketing, using both print and digital.

We’re Marketing Experts

Call on us to help you integrate social media marketing with print and direct mail. We have been providing print services to our customers since 1995 and social media services since 2004. We’re good at what we do and passionate about helping you achieve your business goals. For more information or to set an appointment, call Brigid at 215-923-2679 or email her at

Create Buzz Using Print with Facebook

If your business draws its customers from a neighborhood or other defined geographic area, you can combine direct mail and social media to get people sharing with each other. Here’s how:
  1. Be sure your Facebook page has good customer reviews for new visitors to read.
  2. Make an offer that you know has appeal –  a free gift or an add-on with purchase like free tire rotation with the purchase of 4 new tires.
  3. Develop a mail piece (postcard, flyer, or brochure) that describes the offer.
  4. On the mail piece, direct recipients to your Facebook page and instruct them to write a specific phrase on the page (such as “Got a gift for reading my mail”) to be eligible for the offer.
  5. On your Facebook page, refer to the direct mail piece (“Our neighbors are getting free gifts just for opening their mail”).
This will start people talking. Regular visitors to your Facebook page will ask how they can get in on the offer, and direct mail recipients will read the good customer reviews on your Facebook page.