Volume or Profit?

There can often be a fine line between the flyer printing industry and the printed advertising banners and signs industry. Often as not, any print company that has wide format machines has the capacity to make signage designed for permanent fixture – but is this the kind of work that printers want to get involved with? Well, as ever, the answer is yes and no. With signage work there often comes the prerequisite site visit for measuring up, and the installation of the signage once the job is printed and made and ready to go out. You don’t get that with custom banner printing and printing brochures. How do signage companies differ from print companies? This is the type of work that they thrive on, whereas some printers shy away from it. How and why are they better able to cope? Here are a few pointers:

  • Dedicated staff for site visits
  • Dedicated sign fitting teams
  • Lower volume/higher margin business model
  • Better trade rates for signage materials that they use frequently
  • Greater knowledge of illuminated and routed signs
  • More time

shutterstock_129425051 Printers often work around high volume and low margin, offering cheap banner printing. A simple printed banner is great for this – it can be designed, printed, made and despatched in a short time. But if the banner has to be measure up for first AND then fitted afterwards the job immediately becomes much more time consuming. Even if the measuring and fitting time is charged for, it’s almost impossible to charge enough. The opportunity cost (profit that could have been made elsewhere in the business using the lost time) is just too great. Many sign companies DO get involved in sign making, but don’t routinely offer measuring up and fitting as a rule. They take each job on a case-by-case basis. If the job is something that they can do, and it’s profitable, then they are happy to do the work and arrange fitting etc where necessary. This is the type of thing that printers often do, without routinely offering a measuring-up service for just anyone that wants to buy a £30 banner – you can see that this just wouldn’t be profitable. Of course, there are always customers that live in dream land who think that for £30 they should get their spot measured up, a banner made, and then the banner fitted. People honestly do think that from time to time. It’s a funny old world, isn’t it? If you’re one of those people, buy a small business website design and have a go yourself!

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It All Starts With A Logo

The humble logo. it’s just your company name made fancy. The best ones are simple, memorable & say what you’re all about at a glance. This is why they’re important, and exactly where you should start.

Once you know what your company is going to do, at some point you have to think about marketing and presenting yourself to the general public. The logo is the absolute best place to start because it will establish several things:

  • Colour scheme
  • Tone of voice
  • Fonts styles

These things can then be carried on throughout every other piece of branding that you do in the future. Because they all come from the one source they’ll be consistent and ‘on brand’ as the marketing execs say!

Okay, so we know we need a logo for our business. What do we need to consider before we commission somebody to design it? Well, what kind of business are you? Are you serious and professional or friendly and informal? Are you global or local? Once you’ve made a decision about these issues, your designer will be able to start work on your logo.

Companies like Redwall are well used to this sort of design work – it’s one of the mainstays of their trade. You’d more than likely get several initial concepts which would eventually be worked into a final and finished design. You can also get a corporate guide made up. This details the company colours, fonts, acceptable layouts and all possible logo variations. This document is often passed on to anyone that’s using your logo, as it will tell them what’s permitted.

Once You’ve Got a Logo

Now you’ve got a logo and maybe a corporate design guide. From here it’s now possible to design a website (Redwall do this too – search for website design wakefield) and printed collateral such as leaflets, brochures, business cards and letterheads. Everything can feature the logo and use all of the correct colours and fonts that you’ve decided on so it will all tie in nicely. Everything will match and this will create a fantastic, cohesive, targeted appearance for your business.

Why Is This Important?

Well, we can get into the psychological effects that a cohesive design theme can have on your customers, but we’d be here all day. This is the simplest way to explain it:

What do multimillion dollar companies do?

That’s right. They have awesome logos. Their advertising, packaging, websites – everything. It all matches. People see this, and they know that the company is successful and influential and in their minds the two go together. If you get your logo and branding sorted your customers are going to attribute these qualities to you and your business too. All the hard work that these big companies have done can help you in so many ways because of this. They have set the precedent of what makes a big, successful company ‘seem’ big and successful, and it’s easy to steal a bit of this methodology for yourself.

THAT’S why your logo comes first.

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21st Century Print for Business

Business printing was once the cornerstone of the printing industry. Back in the day when everything was paper-based, every company had to have letterheads, invoices, compliment slips, business cards, brochures, pads, posters….. The list goes on, and that’s not even including things like cheap flyers – having flyers printed is a relatively modern affair. Printing companies like Swiftprint were founded on this business.

How has this changed? Well, the internet has altered the way a lot of businesses work. A lot of brochure printing and information that would have once been printed is now stored online and anyone with a computer (everyone, surely??) can view it easily. No printing needed there then. Invoices and statements are now often sent out via email and printed out onto plain paper at the recipient’s end if required. This further reduces the amount of business print out there, and because of this decline in the popularity of print, it seems that compslips are often ignored as well. Ironically, the newer flyer print has never been more popular!

One area that seemingly remains is card printing. There’s simply no quicker and easier way to pass your important contact details onto someone you meet – they’re a really functional item and therefore deserve their continued popularity. After all, it’s all very well having a website/Facebook/Twitter etc, but if you’ve just met a prospective client they won’t know how to find any of this. The humble business card is the important first step.

So how best to make your card stand out among the throng? Well, there are many different variations that can be taken into account. Some of these include:

  • Lamination (gloss or matt)
  • Folding (to make a mini/booklet)
  • Die cutting (oddly shaped cards with cutouts)
  • Spot UV print

Sadly there is a problem with a lot of these interesting possibilities – they are only really suitable for large runs. What tends to happen is that a customer finds a card that they really like – it might be die cut to shape for instance. Then they take that to a printers such as Supaprint and ask for some doing in a similar fashion. The problem being they only need 250 doing…..

The die costs £40 to make. The die cutting will cost £40. That’s £80 to add to the cost of the cards, which might be £30. So in this case, the die cutting causes the cost per card to go from 12p to 44p. They NEVER go for it. If this was a run of 5000, the die cutting cost would be an almost negligible extra, and might be feasible.

There is a lot of this kind of thing in the print industry – customers wanting large run effects on short run jobs. Disappointment abound!

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Cheap vs. Value!

I’ve been working on all kinds of design this week and a lot of it (as I’m finding more and more!) needed the print sorting out as well (I’m getting more requests for cheap leaflet printing every day!). I’m getting better at making sure my artwork is all sorted and print ready, so I have a little more time to shop around and find the best places to get my stuff printed. There are a lot of printers on the internet and with a bit of spare time it’s easy to find the best places. Blogs are a great source of information, as well as forums, and if you read through the relevant sections you can really take away some great pointers. Auraprint is one flyer design company that I hear recommended a lot, but of course there are others out there and it’s up to you to find one that works for you!

My tip would be to think carefully about what you want from your printing though. Not everything is what it seems as I’m sure you can guess! When comparing prices it’s absolutely essential to ensure that you are comparing like-for-like. There’s no point weighing one price against another unless the spec is the same as changes in quality can often yield dramatic price changes either way. Speak to a sales rep if you have to and ask for the boss if you think they are not giving you the full story. You could find some really cheap flyer printing but if your customer rejects the print it will be an expensive mistake that you’ll never want to make again (thankfully it’s not happened to me yet!)

Colour printing is one area that shows differences between printers. Colour printers (as nearly all are these days) have the issue of colour balance to deal with. The machines should be calibrated regularly to ensure that the print output is always consistent. If this is done then problems are rare. The reality is that a lot of busy printers don’t quite do it as often as they should. This means that a job might not quite be the colour you were expecting, or that a repeat order might not quite match the colour of the first run. These changes can be subtle, but you really start to notice them when you’ve been around print for a while. Web designers gain a similar skill when surfing the internet. Even if you know that the customer would never notice there is a certain professional pride that comes from knowing that a job has been done right, and I stick to that maxim every time I start a new job.

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Promo Print

This week I’d like to look at a specific printing service that I recommend a lot, and take a little look at what they do. The company website can be found at www.auraprint.co.uk – take a look at this great e-commerce site! It’s easy to get prices and buy online, and they’ve really made a great effort to create a site that is informative, useful and easy to use. It was produced by web design huddersfield.

Aura have dedicated premises and several production staff, along with a great customer service department that is always on the end of the phone to help with any queries or problems that you may have. They talk in a no-nonsense or jargon language and are great at sorting any problems quickly, and trying to avoid them in the first place. They have an in house design team as well, so can do design work from scratch or help you to amend any artwork that you may want to use, along with sorting all the technical aspects of the artwork by making sure that it is print ready before the job is passed onto the production team. Aura have two digital print machines and two wide format printers, along with the full range of guillotine, booklet makers, laminators (digital and wide format) creaser, folder and the equipment needed to make desk and NCR (no carbon required) pads. They can also do stickers, and get involved in roll up banner production too.

In fact, the only jobs that are outsourced are large litho runs and the occasional banner that is too large for the in-house machines. Printers that can cover this range of work are rare, and Aura are quite unique in the range of products and services that they can cover without needing any help from outside companies or contractors. It’s normal however to outsource large litho runs – litho printers are very expensive and require a lot of space so it’s fair to assume that only a few litho companies can do all of the litho work that exists on the country at any one time – if everyone had a litho machine there just wouldn’t be enough work to go around! With cheap banners you can be limited to the size that you can produce by the machines that you have, In this case, around 1% of banners are outsourced, so it really is very rare. If you need a really indepth design agencies west yorkshire service though, maybe clicking the link will help! Door to door delivery is one way to get your flyers around, but you’ll have to be fit! Perhaps online fitness instructor courses might be of some use? Hahahaha!

When choosing printing services, don’t let a little outsourcing put you off. The best companies will still guarantee quality so that your mind can be at rest!

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