Barcode Printing

Barcode Printing Basics

Barcodes are just about everywhere these days. They make our life a lot more simple than we realize. Factories use them to control production. Shippers like USPS, UPS, and Fedex use them to track packages and monitor the flow of shipments. You can find them on government issued ID and at your local(or not so local) grocery store. Barcode printing is fairly simple, provided that the design is correct. But, let’s take a step back and find out what our black & white friends are all about.

Most people will recognize the UPC barcode below. It is most commonly found in retail stores.UPC Code

A barcode is simply a symbol that contains information, which, is read by a machine, which, is usually connected to a database.  They fall into 2 main categories, each of which has its own variations. A UPC code like the one above is a one dimensional barcode as it only takes advantage of the thickness of the bars and the spaces in between them.  Another example of a one dimensional code is something used by UPS or Fedex.

Here we have a QR code.QR Code This is an example of a two dimensional barcode. It takes advantage of the horizontal and vertical spacing. Originally created by vehicle manufacturers for production purposes, they are widely used today by mobile phone users for discounts or purchases. QR codes can also be placed on printed objects like posters or magazines and read by a mobile phone. This will open the phone’s web browser and take the user to a specific site or page. This is called a hardlink.

Why is this important to me?

Firstly, we chose the above codes because they are 2 major players in barcode printing. QR codes, while fairly new to some, have excellent benefits for consumers and businesses alike.  QR codes can also be generated easily and have given small businesses exposure they would not otherwise enjoy.

Companies like Amazon are giving UPC codes to new business owners and inventors. This allows someone who developed a gizmo in their garage to harness the power of a giant like Amazon and expose their products to millions of people, who would have been out of reach before.

Barcode printing

The first rule of barcode printing for a small business is to make sure your barcode is accurately adapted into your overall design. That, and well if it is possible, test it beforehand. A printing company can only accurately recreate what you need. But, whatever you give them to work with is ultimately what will come out the other side.

If your code is not active with vendors, suppliers or linked to the web, it won’t matter how perfect a job is done, it will not work. As we mentioned before, barcodes contain data, which, is linked with a database. So, if that database does not recognize the information stored within the barcode, or if the link on a QR is dead, well, you get the point. Another major point is that the quiet zone around the barcode should be no less than 1/4 inch. The quiet zone is a buffer that prevents a barcode reader from picking up any irrelevant data.

The good news is, there is a world of potential with these codes. Barcode printing is becoming more and more common and is an excellent marketing tool. Companies like ours have experience in barcode printing and can give you some pointers. Some companies also have a scanner lying arund and can try and test the finished product(only test, read the above paragraph). Choosing the right company is paramount, as we can help you avoid some of the pitfalls of printing barcodes. It is still important to note, however, that one must stay within the guidelines of what is set for that code. A lot of companies will tell you what size it can and cannot be and how much quiet space there should be. QR code generators will give you parameters as well.

Color QR Code with Logo

Benefits

QR Codes can also be enhanced to incorporate your logo and include color. This provides an excellent marketing opportunity for many small business. There is a segment of the population, though, that is still unfamiliar with QR codes. Still, many people have a phone on them that can scan QR codes easily.

Dynamic QR Codes can also have their information altered so that, you can use the same QR code but can alter the end result.

The potential for small businesses to use these codes to their benefit is growing daily. You can read more about it from a previous blog. Large corporations like Dunkin Donuts, Target, and Amazon use them to attract new customers and create calls to action. Small businesses can do the same, increase brand awareness, and attract customers in many ways.

All barcodes to need to be printed at some point. That is where an experience printing company can help. A restaurant can send an EDDM flyer with a QR code for 10% off. Or put a code in your brochure for special offers.  The options are endless.

Choose a company that has experience in barcode printing. Make sure your specification are accurate, then use your own ideas, our ideas here or from our previous blog on how to help increase your revenue. 

 

 

Holidays, Give Yourself A Present…ation Folder Booklet or Annual Report

 

Presentation Folder Booklets

presentation-folder-booklets-230x170

The new year is inching closer. Many personal and professional events are upon us. Taxes. The mere mention of the word brings dread to the mind and it creates frustration in your bones. There’s mention of in the Bible of tax collectors being some of the least favorite people of their time. Yes, taxes and our dislike for them have been around that long. Probably longer. I believe I read something about a cave drawing containing angry cavemen next to the letters IRS. caveman

Let’s get back in the present. We now have tools to help with tax season. If you are a tax professional, our Presentation Folder Booklets(with or without the Stepped Inserts) are a simple way to engage your clients in a sleek, professional, and organized manner. Our custom printed booklets provide all the information that you would like them to see. All your clients will understand and the folders will provide a simple way to stay organized with all the deductions people will try to take. (No, just because you vented about work at the drive through does not make that dinner a business expense.)Conversely, if you are gathering your information for tax season our Standard Presentation Folder is an excellent a way to stay organized.

standardpresentationfolders

Enough with the taxes already

Let’s forget about taxes. Presentation Folders Booklets are something used in almost every industry. What separates us? All folders are custom printed, so that it is tailored to your audience. We offer different option, folders, or stepped inserts, which are great for a company presentation. Contractors, Realtors, Financial Planners, even Funeral Directors have to sit down with potential customers and present their information in a sleek and professional manner to win over clients. That is where we come in. Presentation is everything, and our Folders and Booklets are designed to impress. Why stress about your pitching your next idea? When you can have all your information in one sleek folder, and when you distribute them, they will all be uniform. Everyone will be on the same page. Literally.

folder-with-stepped-inserts-275x180-1

Annual Reports

Every business should have annual reports. Medium to Large companies rely on them for many reasons. However, small business should do the same and our custom Annual Reports allow to present all pertinent information regarding the annual-reports-printingprevious year in a professional and organized fashion. Annual reports contain all the important financial information. Use them to highlight achievements.. Small businesses can use Annual Reports as a marketing tool,also, you can promote your companies success to investors, or use it to share milestones.

Staying organized is integral. Presentation can be the difference between hired or fired. Keeping valuable data is a tool to market to your audience. These are all basic parts of running a successful business. Using these simple tools to promote and market your business can be how to get where you want to be. We are happy to answer questions and we can help your business look and perform at its best.

The smartest 6 Holiday Marketing Tips

Many businesses use Thanksgiving and the December Holidays to market generically themed ideas to attract new customers or engage current customers. Using originality and a bit of a human touch can really affect how customers react to your Holiday Marketing Campaigns. As we are all mostly busy during this season, we will try to keep a short but helpful list.happyholidays

  1. Plan in advance- Sadly, this may not help you now. But, it’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s campaigns. The beginning of October is a good date to start brainstorming and begin planning your Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Seasons Greetings bonanza. A little planning ahead of time goes a long way after the fact.
  2. This is cliche, but personalize your approach. Something most companies don’t factor into a Holiday Campaign is the emotional factor. Most purchases are not rational decisions. They are emotional reactions. Engage your customers on social media with a question like: What is their favorite Holiday tradition? Find a holiday-thanksgiving-pumpkinsway for your customers to insert themselves into the campaign. “Elf yourself” was one of the most successful marketing strategies ever.
  3. Don’t discount Cyber Friday. That’s right. Not Cyber Monday. In 2014 $1.5 billion was spent on Black Friday alone. Planning ahead will also allow to plan for contests or games to be added to that campaign as well.tc-stats-logo
  4. Use last year’s data. If you don’t keep data now, start keeping it this year. Find out what items sold best. Campaigns that use data improve ROI by 15-20%.
  5. You are a customer as well, observe and use what attracts you. You may be in business but thinking like a customer, can inspire many ideas.
  6. This may be taboo for some. But, far too many campaign’s mistake the Holiday season-greetings-clip-art-jgynnt-clipartSeason for the Christmas Season. Focus on the universal themes of family, gift giving, and charity. While this has become a touchy subject as of late, a well though out approach can be inclusive and not have anyone feeling left out.

Using the built in themes of the season, can be half of what it takes to run a successful Holiday Marketing campaign. We wish you a successful Holiday season. More importantly, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.

Are Personalized Calendars Marketing Hidden Gems?

For a moment, forget what the prevailing wisdom is. Because facts are facts,  by the end of this blog, we think you will think differently, from when you started.

Looking for a way to promote your business that will engage, remain, and market your products and services is a complicated matter. Will your idea target a professional audience? If, you mail or email a number of informational flyers, will they just view it as another sales item and toss it to the side?  That is the real conundrum. Is there a product that will not be thrown away, target your audience, and promote your products and services. The answer may surprise you.

Calendars are viewed as gifts, not as sales gimmicks, so they are not likely to be thrown away. The fact is, few people actually buy calendars, so receiving one as a gift is often a welcome addition.

Furthermore, it will remain in one’s office or room for 1 year. They can also be personalized, so that, the recipient will genuinely be happy and grateful. It is not surprising that they are overlooked, as most individuals receive their calendar from an organization or business. What other product will remain in plain sight for a full year and offer 12 separate promotions or sales pitches all in a non threatening manner.

OK, that’s great you say, but “MegaCorp” does not even know my company’s name. Well, offering a personalized calendar as a gift will ensure that everyone who receives one, will at the very least, glance at your logo everyday. This is priceless. The individual is not only coming to know your brand, address, and phone phone number, he/she is endorsing you by having that calendar in their office. Also, every person who sits or visits that office will see it as well. Anyone will assume that you have an established relationship with that company.

This is why it is important to design a custom printed calendar. Knowing your target audience will help you design a calendar, which, will help to grow your brand and market effectively. Perhaps, you know an employee is avid golfer, or enjoys hiking. You can cater to their preference and ensure that it ts something they will choose to look at for 12 months.

 

In 1981 the CAC (Calendar Advertising Council) conducted a telephone survey and found that 70% of calendars were received as gifts, and 85% percent of recipients planned to conduct business with sender of the calendars. That is ROI.

Well, that’s 1981 you say, that does not apply to today’s fast paced, tech savvy world. In the last six years, Calendars have ranged in revenue from 1.07bil to 1.43bil in promotional product sales. That equates to 7.14 share of the $15.64 billion pie of promotional product sales. In the last 6 years, calendars have remained in the top five of promotional products. In addition, look at these statistics reported from ordinary people given promotional or an advertising calendar:

• 74 percent could remember the name of the company advertised
• 72 percent could remember the product or service/message advertised
• 71 percent had done business with the company that gave them the calendar prior to receipt of the complimentary calendar
• 70 percent plan to do business with the company again
• 48 percent had a more favorable impression of the advertiser
• 41 percent have referred a friend to the company that gave them the calendar

Another study showed:

  • 77.6% Plans to do business with the advertiser
  • 48.8% Has referred a friend to the advertiser

That study shows some really interesting information regarding people receiving multiple calendars. Calendars are still relevant and come in many different forms now, from pocket calendars to desk calendars.

 

All of that would not matter if calendars were not cost effective. It is fairly obvious that TV, radio, or internet ads are much more exciting and engaging. They can be interactive and catchy. But, what happens if the TV is on mute or the viewer is in another room. Internet ads are also there and then gone, not hard to miss. All of these methods are extremely expensive. When you consider the cost of a bundle of calendars, it’s hard to think why it is not worth trying.

So, assuming we’re all in agreement (you have to admit that this argument is pretty convincing), that calendars can an effective marketing tool and extremely cost effective, let’s start to design something that will give you the best chance to reap all of the rewards, which, we discussed above.

  • First, it is important that the calendar is aesthetically pleasing. If, it is not pleasing to the eye, it will not be looked at all that much
  • Design it so that your logo and information are in plain view
  • Specify certain times of years or dates that inspire action (For example, if you client is an accountant, perhaps include a reminder to send out flyers right before tax season)
  • Include special offers or reminders of your next catalog of brochure
  • Think of your customer, what do you think your client will be dwelling on on any given month. Be helpful, give tips based on their industry. This will gain trust and force them to look at it more often
  • Include URLs or or phone numbers that will lead them to products and services that will help them

There are many different factors like size, binding, and color to consider when designing a custom calendar. That’s where we come in. Contact us at mmprint.com today.

 

 

 

Useful Pointers for Creating an Attractive Header Card

When shoppers are browsing a store, they are often walking past hundreds of different products and brands trying to grab their attention. A product’s packaging can be one of the most important factors in a customer’s buying decision. Having a poorly designed package can give the impression your merchandise is cheap or inferior. Make sure your packaging boosts your brand image instead of hurting it.

There are many different ways to package your goods, but one of the easiest and most cost effective is the use of header cards (also commonly called bag toppers). This packaging consists of a printed piece of cardstock folded in half and stapled to a polybag. This simple packaging process will get your products on the shelf in no time!

Custom header card printing

Choosing a Header Card Size

Many printing companies offer a few sizes for header cards, and some will be open to printing any custom sizes. When choosing your size, make sure the width of your header card is at least an 1/8th” longer than the width of your polybag. As for the height, it is more of a personal preference, but generally a heavier product will have a longer header card.

Designing your Bag Topper

Having a skilled graphic designer create the artwork for your packaging is another important aspect for making your product stand out. When designing for print, there are a couple of important points to remember, such as designing with bleed so that you don’t have white margins around your card.

When designing your card, remember that the design will be printed on one sheet of paper that is folded, so you will need the top half to appear upside down.

Here are some design templates for a common size header card:

Templates
5″ x 4″ (5″ x 2″ Folded) – InDesign or PDF

Header cards can be designed on both the front and back. It could be useful to print instructions or additional information on the inside of the card to keep it hidden.

Choosing a Hole Punch

For Bag Toppers, there are two standard options when it comes to hole punching: the standard hole punch or the sombrero punch (pictured below).

Sombrero punch header cards

Some smaller products may be better suited without a poly bag. For this type of packaging, consider printing your design on a thicker cardstock with slits to attach your product to. This is a great option for jewelry and other small items.

Looking for expert advice on variable data printing or need a custom quote? Feel free to reach out in the comments section or visit our header card printing page!

Lookbook Design Tips – Style And Fashion

Lookbooks seem to be the latest craze for fashion start-ups and clothing lines. I can attest to this statement because it’s been our hottest selling product for the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2013 and probably would have been for longer than that… had we paid more attention to this trend earlier in the year.

The difference between a lookbook and a catalog is in the content. Lookbooks showcase your fashion/clothing line’s look and style and doesn’t get into too much detail because it’s all about imagery, hence the name “Look” book.

A lookbook design sets the stage for your target market and with these tips you will be able to create an environment that they can relate to and see themselves in it.

 

Lookbook Design Showcase

 

Simple and Subtle Imagery

Lookbooks are made for looking. Simple as that. No need to create distraction with overwhelming amounts of text or disruptive graphics that take the focus away from your product.

You may opt for a solid color background usually gentle whites or light greys that contrast with the colors of your models and clothing. Even shadows can draw the eyes away from the target, make sure your lighting conditions are optimal.

 

Fashion Lookbook Designs

 

Use Your Environment

For the seasonal or niche fashion-eers, the background can be used to your advantage. Create a habitat where your fashion lives, where you target market finds themselves. Help them envision how your style fits their lifestyle.

 

Lookbook Design and Printing

 

 Gloss, Gloss… Gloss.

The paper you select for your lookbook printing can really influence the outcome.  In my opinion, nothing makes photographs POP like a glossy finish, the good news is most small runs of lookbooks are printed digitally…

Digital printing uses toner which has a glossy finish anyway so basically you can print on uncoated or matte paper and still have a glossy finish. I’ve seen this used to give the printed areas a 3D type effect or can be comparable to Spot UV coating.

 

Getting There First: Standard Mail vs First Class

USPS First Class Mail Standard Mail Comparison

With all of the problems the USPS has been facing, it hasn’t changed the fact that direct mail is still one of the best ways to market a business or service according to a study by the Direct Mail Association and referenced in this article by Ad Age.

The political/internal/financial battle happening within the United States Postal Service has affected delivery times and in recent news, California Representative Darrell Issa suggested in a bill that the USPS will no longer deliver mail directly to your door. Only to curbside mailboxes and cluster boxes similar to those found in apartment complexes. You can pay a fee to keep the to-your-door service if you don’t mind paying for it and exceptions will be made for the elderly and those who can prove physical disability.

Although the USPS  is changing and will keep changing, what most matters is that your target audience gets their mail pieces in a timely fashion and convert into customers.

The Differences in Bulk Mail Classes and Mail Delivery Times

Bulk mail is processed by the mail house before it gets to the Post Office saving the USPS time and money. The mailer typically has a mailing permit that must be printed on to each piece identifying the postage class and the account of the mailer who performed the mailing.

Presort software is used to connect to the USPS to presort the addresses, qualify the quantity and mail piece cost from your mailing list, add barcodes, check for duplicates and verifies address accuracy against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. Planning ahead with delivery times in mind will help your direct mail campaign to be more effective and you can save money as well.

Standard Mail

Standard Mail Permit IndiciaStandard mail is the least expensive and slower class of bulk mail for for printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising, newsletters, bulletins, catalogs, and small packages. Deeply discounted, Standard mail costs less because your mailing company or mail house does most of the processing for the Post Office and those savings are passed on to you in the form of a postage discount. With Standard mail, any pieces that are undeliverable are not returned to the sender which is also saves the USPS time and money.

What do you need to qualify for Standard Mail discounted postage?

  • Standard Mail Mailing Permit (you can use our mailing permit free if we are mailing for you!)
  • Minimum of 200 pieces or 50lbs of mail
  • Maximum weight of 16 ounces
  • Domestic Mail only

First Class Mail

First Class Mail Permit IndiciaFirst Class Mail is the faster of the two and if the address printed on the mailpiece is undeliverable, the USPS will automatically forward it to the correct address (if it’s on file) or return it to the sender. This ensures that the recipient receives the mailpiece or at least you can remove them from your mailing list saving you money on postage costs on the next mailing.

Depending on your budget and time-frame, the extra cost for First Class Mail can be worth it and it’s still less than the cost of a regular single-piece stamp.

What are the requirements to qualify for First Class discounted postage?

  • First Class Mailing Permit (you can use our mailing permit free if we are mailing for you!)
  • Minimum of 500 pieces
  • Maximum weight of 13 ounces
  • Must be rectangular in shape

Note: A 4.25 x 6 Postcard is mailed First Class by default at a special Postcard Rate.

First Class and Standard Mail Postage Costs

First Class and Standard mail are considered Unzoned Mail. Meaning you pay the same price without regard to where the mailpiece goes (within the U.S.). Nevertheless, there are differences in the cost of each piece depending on mailpiece type (postcard, letter, flat or parcel – each mailpiece type has its own size restrictions), weight and traying sequence (5-digit, 3-digit, AADC and mixed AADC) which is determined by the mailing software used by your mail house.

  • The United States Postal Service offers a handy Business Price Calculator to give you a good idea of what your postage costs may be per piece.
  • Download our convenient Envelope Size Chart to learn about standard envelope sizes and differences.

 For other types of mail classes, the price is determined by the distance the mailpiece travels to arrive at it’s destination. The further it has to travel, the more postage paid for that piece. The distance is established by the use of zones.

[note color=”#FFCC00″] You may still have questions regarding your direct mail campaign.Give us a call at 1877-mmprint to speak with a mailing service professional about your project or visit our mailing services page for more information and to request a quote. [/note] [divider top=”1″]

 

3 Printing Mistakes That Are Costing You Money

Making educated decisions with your marketing is not only about the results but also how those results are obtained. By knowing how printing works and what combinations of specs work best, you can actually save money on printing costs and still have quality marketing materials.

I can imagine that you are probably thinking right now…I have enough on my plate as it is, now I have to learn how printing works too???

Well, not exactly. Really, an honest and knowledgeable printing company will steer you in the right direction, save you money and educate you on the way. We firmly believe that an educated customer will become the best customer because the communication is clear and the results will be exactly as discussed. No one losses, no reprints, no extra fees, it’s all win-win.

Save Money On Printing With These 3 Tips

Here are 3 mistakes that we come across pretty often when customers that are not familiar with printing. You can take these as rules for optimizing your next print run:

Overdesign And The Printed Space

Overdesign is not a real word according to my spell check which underlines it with a big red squiggly line, but it does exist in real life (and in the dictionary) and it can cause eye fatigue, confusion and a general loss of interest. Overdesign is found when you pick up some kind of printed material and can’t seem to stop moving your eyes or focus on a specific part of the design. It takes you away from the important parts like calls to action.

Some people carry on with the misconception that white space is wasted space. Nothing is further from the truth. One company that takes advantage of white space is Apple. If you look at their advertising, packaging and devices, white space prevails. Hey, just look at how they’ve dominated every corner of the market… they know that it works; white space is aesthetically pleasing and keeps the viewer focused on the main point of the advertisement.

So how is overdesign costing you money that you could be saving on printing?

A great example is when restaurants print menus. A menu’s main goal is to present a customer with the different plates and combinations of food available for purchase. But, the method of distributing the menu varies and that is where less can be more. There are menus that are handed out or included with take-out orders. Then, you have menus that are used for dine-in customers which are collected after the order has been taken.

A carry-out menu could be a simpler one or two color menu that will cost you less to print. Think of Chinese food menus, they are usually printed in red and black ink and have zero pictures in them. Yet, they are highly effective.

Your table menus, if designed efficiently, can be smaller or take less pages to include all of your items. Less pages or smaller size means less paper which saves money.

Choosing Paper Stocks

Paper is another area where customers over do it and spend extra money unnecessarily. Consider how the print piece will be used. Does your brochure contain information that is read once and discarded or is there a piece of information in it that you know your readers will go back and reference more than once? These are the kind of things that need to be considered. If your brochure is the kind that gets tossed after one use, you probably want to hold back on using a heavy Linen cardstock. It’s simply throwing money away.

If you and your service or product require the best and only the best, then make sure the content of your printed pieces are worth more than just a look, make them contain value, make them worth keeping.

Qualifying Quantity

Most of the cost of a print run is in the setup. So many things go into setting up for a printing job that adding paper one setup is complete, it’s not a big deal. This is why you may see that the cost difference from 2500 to 5000 pieces is very little in most cases.  Determine if you can use more in the future instead of just a few now and save money. Make sure your design doesn’t have any references to dates that might render your prints useless in the future.


By making minor changes to your design, paper and/or quantity, you can make a big difference in the cost of your printing.

Make sure to give us a call if you have any questions about your next printing project, one of our specialists can help you determine the best and most effective way of producing your project. 1877-667-7468.

3 Powerful Marketing Tips To Gain New Local Customers

Small businesses thrive when their local community embraces what they have to offer. Customers feel that doing business locally is easy, it’s close by and it’s probably good for the local economy.

Even though these customers are consumers just like anyone else in the rest of the country, these consumers have one specific characteristic that is completely different from any other: they SHARE your location.

Whether your local efforts are made at the town level or the state level, these customers can become loyal fans just how sports fans become loyal fans of their local (town,state) teams.

 

3 Powerful Marketing Tips for Small Business
3 Powerful Marketing Tips for Small Business

 1. Gain Local Customers with Local Rewards

Sharing your location with your customers means that you and your employees eat, shop and interact with the same local businesses that they do.

These days you can run a Loyalty Rewards program easily in-house. It’s simply a matter of how complicated you make the offer.

A simple way is to print custom coupons with areas that get marked for each purchase or transaction. When the customer reaches the pre-determined number of transactions, you reward them with a free gift or a discount.

Partner up with some of the popular local businesses and run joint advertisements or run discount coupons off of each other. By doing this you are advertising to their customer base and at the same time helping their advertising efforts.

2. Create Awareness Inexpensively

Every Door Direct Mail : For 18.3 cents each (postage) you can mail an over-sized postcard or folded piece to every mailbox in your surrounding neighborhood including PO Boxes. No mailing list required.

E.D.D.M. is an amazing opportunity to let your local customers know your business contact information, address and the services and/or products you offer…while your at it, give them a coupon or offer they can’t refuse.

With the large canvas of the over-sized card that you can send, there’s enough room to include vital information, an attractive image and a killer call-to-action.

3. Become a Social Magnet

Social media is all about community. By embracing the power of social media, you can create a community of brand ambassadors that will spread the word for you.

Sign up for Twitter and create a Facebook business page at the least and start conversations with your customers. When they talk to you, their friends and connections will see the conversation and possibly join in. With that alone you might have just scored a new customer.

Follow us on twitter : @mmprint

Although each one of these tips is powerful on its own, using them in combination will increase your chances of acquiring new local traffic.

Use Every Door Direct Mail to inform your local community of your location, product or service and make sure to let them know where to find you on Twitter and Facebook (and any other social media networks you are on). Then, on your Facebook business page you can offer a discount in return for a Like. Don’t forget to use QR Codes to make it easy to connect with you or visit your website via mobile phones.

Have you had better success using Targeted Direct Mail over using Every Door Direct Mail?