Printing quality can have a huge effect your marketing message. The quality of your marketing material and business stationary reflects on the standards and culture of your business. This can affect buying decisions just as much or even sometimes more than other factors such as staff uniform/dress standards, customer service, product quality and price.
Once the customer leaves your business or hangs up the phone, the memory fades quickly and your brand may be one of many competitors who are all competing for the same work. They may however still have your brochures and/or business card to remember you by. The quality of these products you have chosen to reflect your brand will colour the customers memory and can certainly affect their buying decision.
Let’s consider this example, if the company sign on your building is looking tired or worn and you are asking yourself whether you can afford to fix it, I would ask whether you can afford not to? How many potential customers have driven past your location, but were more attracted by your competitors marketing message and bought elsewhere? How much is that old or dirty signage costing you in lost revenue?
The same is true for your business cards, brochures, letterheads and business stationary. Customers can either consciously or subconsciously judge the quality of your product or service based upon the quality of factors that the can see, hear and touch.
A business card with text cut off, not aligned properly, distorted colours or even colour that’s rubbed off the card most likely won’t project the brand image you desire.
In this article, I’ll share with you 5 common mistakes that I see made by businesses on a regular basis when it comes to printing communication materials:
1 – Poor Quality or ‘Home Made’ Artwork
Artwork is very important in a number of ways. Your artwork file decides the look, style and content of your printing, and printers cannot begin production without an artwork file they can use to create plates. Remember that no printer can manufacture a finished product that is ‘nicer’ or ‘better’ than the artwork file they are printing from.
I see many examples of people who are not designers, using non-industry standard software and methods to create artwork, which they then supply as ‘print ready’. This can be disastrous if you supply ‘print ready’ artwork that is not print ready and the printer doesn’t know they need to check the file and make any necessary changes.
Some printers will allow you to supply your own print ready artwork, and others may insist that the file preparation be completed by their ‘in-house’ design team
Many things can go wrong when printing from poorly constructed files, such as fonts changing, boxes appearing around images or effects, colour variation due to RGB colours instead of CMYK – the list goes on. My strongest recommendation is to allow room in your budget for professional design and file preparation. Better still request a sample of your print job for approval prior to production.
If you do choose to produce the artwork yourself here are some tips to help ensure you get a better result:
- Use the appropriate industry standard software eg Adobe Illustrator
- Do not complete this task without the proper training.
- Understand that you are taking responsibility for that artwork being correct – you are risking the job printing incorrectly to save a small portion of the total cost.
- Include trim marks and 3mm bleed at each edge.
- Convert all text to curves or outlines.
- Flatten all images and effects.
- Supply the file as a high resolution PDF – 300dpi at true size.
2 – Printing Marketing Material From A Home Printer
I have seen many cases of ‘business cards’ that have been created using clip art images using Microsoft Word and printed on a home bubble-jet printer, then laminated and cut out with scissors. I think we can all agree that is really not putting your best foot forward when it comes to giving a good impression of your brand. While budget may be a concern for many, printing really isn’t as expensive as you think.
The commercial printing machines that are used by commercial printers are worlds apart from your average home printer. They are designed to ensure a consistent, uniform look and a higher quality to your printing.
3 – Always Choosing The Cheapest
Price is only one part of the equation when it comes to making decision about what printing to buy. When your customer or client receives a brochure or business card from you, you are leaving a physical thing with them to remember you by. Elements such as great design, high quality paper stock and spotless printing quality can leave a great impression and certainly worth taking the extra time to decide what is the right option for you.
There are also lots of effects you can use to help your printing stand out from the crowd such as:
- Spot UV varnish
- Foil stamping
- Letter press printing
- Raised lettering
- Matt or gloss cello glaze
- Metallic Inks
4 – Using Different Printers For Different Products
I see many customers who use one printer for their business cards and another for their letterheads and another for their brochures. The result? The colours, message, look and feel of their marketing is often inconsistent.
Just like different designers will produce different artwork when given the same initial brief, every press and printing operator will print differently as well.
Rather than run the gauntlet always hunting the cheapest price, I would recommend building a relationship with your local printer who offers competitive pricing across the range of products you require. I would be very surprised if you cannot negotiate the same great prices in this way. That way you can ensure consistent colours and quality across all your printing communication materials.
5 – Rushing Production Or Artwork Timeframes
Manufacturing is not an exact science and press operators or designers are all human – urgent or rushed jobs are much more likely to be struck down by human error. One of the best ways to ensure a quality product and a stress free printing experience is to plan ahead and leave plenty of time for designing and production. Ask your suppliers in advance how many working days they will require.
Where to from here?
Hopefully this article has helped to better equip you the next time you need to print marketing materials for your business, by avoiding some of the common mistakes I see affecting businesses regularly. If you can leverage print as the powerful medium it is to build and strengthen brand communications, your business will surely reap the rewards.