Print & Copy

The printed word carries power!

Everyone has stayed in a hotel.  What time is checkout?  They boldly post this information on the inside of every room they rent.  It is written, it becomes law!  See the power it has?  Of course you can call the fronT desk and negotiate a later checkout time but most people don’t do it because they don’t know they can.  I have seen lots of people frantically try to escape their rented quarters at the “last minute”.  Perhaps thinking they will be charged another nights rent if they don’t vacate by the time allocated.

Printing History

I won’t go into the evolution of print from the point of Gutenberg, but I will give a brief history of print in our lifetime.  Not too long ago, we only had foundry type to work with.  That is, each and every letter had to be set by hand from a storage box called a California Job Case.  Every font and every size in that font family had it’s own case.  You set the type by hand upside down.  Very time consuming.  Then it was proofed, errors fixed, low spots corrected and locked up in a chase to be placed on a letterpress printing press.  Either a simple platen press or a Heidelberg Windmill.  That was it, until the revolutionary development of offset.  This is a process in which a complex system of paste up, photo development, and plate making made a light engraving on an otherwise smooth surface.  The ink is spread throughout the entire plate (while it is wrapped around a cylinder) but only sticks to the area where there is an impression.  This ink is transferred to paper as it shuffles through the press at a rapid rate.  Interestingly, both of these processes are still used today.  Of course we now have digital presses that are connected directly to computers and do amazingly to produce printed materials.

Use of Print Today

With the advances in technology, mainly computing and the internet, the use of printed materials has in some ways diminished.  Where people once used print media exclusively now use a high percentage of emails, websites and other forms of digital communication.

The good news about this is that while there was a time where junk mail hit the trash cans as fast as they arrived, people are not receiving the quantity of mail today that we did just a few years ago.  What that means for you, the business owner, is that you have less competition in this media.  If you are the only company in your space sending out printed material, there is a high likelihood that the end receiver will actually look at it with more than a glance.  He/She may still toss it, but not without seeing your company name/logo and offer.  Subconsciously, it has already entered in the mind of the viewer.

Who Should Use Print

Should you use printed media to market your wares?  There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration when answering that question.  Who is your target?  Can you market only to your target (by using a mailing list)? What type of offer do you have?  And on and on.

Other Uses of Print

Other than sending mail to your targeted audience, you can use mail to say thank you, remind them of a meeting or an appointment.  You can send a follow up of a conversation you had (shows you care).  In other words, look for reasons to send them something.  This reinforces your brand in their mind and increases the likelihood that when they are ready to use a service that you offer, they will only think of you.

Validate your Company

Another reason to use printed materials is to show you customers that you have validity.  Because there are so many scams these days, only legitimate businesses send out mail, real mail through the US Postal Service.  It is a federal offense to use the USPS for any type of scam and it is one area where the Government has a lot of traction and does put violators behind bars for misusing the mail system.

So when your brochure, postcard or other printed item hits the consumers mail box, it builds a high level of trust with your audience.  Another great thing about mail is that it is a form of targeted marketing.  You can send your printed material to only those in a geographical area, or from your internal mailing list or a purchased list that is presumed to include only those people who meet certain criteria.  That may include an age bracket or an income level or numerous other qualifying measurements.

Using Mailing Lists

If your website uses those pop-ups that have become so popular, you have been harvesting emails for future engagement.  But, it you plan on doing direct mailing, then those pop-ups can include a physical address requirement.  Remember, people really don’t want to share their info with just anybody for no reason, so to gain their address (or any other personal data) you need to have your offer sufficient for them to take the time to fill out the form.  Most know by now, that once “opted in”, they will be targeted with your offers or at least with more contact points.  Of course, being the responsible marketer, you will offer them an easy method of opting out.  Most will not opt out if your offers are not bombarding them too often.

Digital Printing with variable data

Ever receive a postcard with YOUR name printed?  Very impressive.  I probably still have some of those first pieces I received that way.  Even if I wasn’t interested in doing business with that company at that time, in the beginning, it had that WOW factor.  Today, that technology still isn’t being utilized be a significant number of companies, meaning that the WOW factor can still take place.

Along with recipient printed names, the technology can also include serial numbers for coupon use, QR codes for scanning with a mobile phone and consecutive numbering for use in internal marketing campaigns.  When a person calls to take advantage of your offer, you ask for the number printed on the sales piece that they received.  Makes it real easy to track your efforts.

Types of Printed Materials

The most widely used printed material is of course the business card.  After that, letterhead, envelopes, postcards, brochures, labels of all types, note pads, sales sheets, door hangers, catalogs and a host of other items.

What is Letterpress?

I briefed on letterpress printing above, but will try to explain the process in layman’s terms.  In this process, hard letters are inked and the ink is transferred onto the substrate.  The letters could be zinc/magnesium alloy, wood or even an engraved tile.  The top surface has the ink applied and the lower levels do not receive ink, so there is no marking where there is no ink.

What is Hot Stamp Foil Printing?

Foil printing is similar to letterpress in that it uses raised surfaces that get heated.  But instead of ink, it “prints” with foil.  The foil has a base of a material such as polyester and numerous extremely thin coatings of other agents that has been applied.  These include color, release agents and adhesives.  Every foil is designed for use on particular substrates and in a variety of colors and finishes.  I had the privilege of working at a foil manufacturing facility in Northern Indiana in the early 70’s.  Making the foil is a fascinating process, but then so is the use of the foil in hot stamping.

Once the substrate is selected, then the foil is selected that best fits the material it will be used on.  After testing with various temperatures, dwell time and pressure settings to yield the best results, then makeup of the print job on press occurs.  Most commonly, a zinc/magnesium die that is manufactured from your art which has been ordered is mounted on press and set up for the product at hand is registered in place.  Once all is ready, the head with the die comes down into contact with the substrate with the foil in between.  The heat slightly melts the adhesive that binds the color to the carrier and when in contact under pressure, releases that color on the piece.  If all is done properly, the results are stunning.  This type of printing allows for bright chome and gold or these days, most any color under the sun, including holographics and prismatics.

What is Screen Printing?

Generally associated with garment printing, screen printing has been around for a long time.  But screen printing is not only used on textiles, it has commonly been used to print flats and even items with slight curves.  Posters, signage, magnets signage and even many flat products can be screen printed.  Today, we even have digital processes to “burn” screens.  (the term used to prepare a screen for printing).  Also, we have digital presses that emulate screen printing.  These are great for short runs or variable data.

What is Flexographic Printing?

Usually associated with label printing, flexographic printing uses a gravure system similar to letterpress, but the plate is thin and the process is generally on a continuous web format.  The quality isn’t that of offset printing, but the process is really fast and economical.

What is Pad Printing?

Pad printing also uses a gravure or a plate that has an etching.  Ink is spread onto the entire plate and ink is deposited in the gravure.  Then a cleaning blade goes across the plate and removes the ink from everywhere except for the recessed area.  A silicone pad comes down and picks up the ink, the head with the pad moves over the item to be printed, comes down and releases the ink onto the item.  This process is ideal for concave and convex items.  Think computer keyboard keys, golf balls and anything irregular surface.  Did you ever wonder how they got the logo on walnuts?

UV Curable Printing

There are numerous hybrid printing processes available today.  Each has it’s own merits and uses.  One of the neatest is the process that allows you to print on 3 dimensional items in full color.  In the last decade or so, these processes have advanced to a technically perfect state.  The colors are dead on, the coatings can withstand lots of abrasion and abuse and the speed at which they can deliver printed products make them a viable solution for thousands of products.

We do Laser Engraving

The process in which an intense laser beam makes contact with the surface on a substrate and disintegrates it!  Really cool process that allows us to “print” on most any flat surface (and cylindrical with the use of a rotary attachment).  We have engraved cutting boards with company names and logos as well as our proprietary designs and sent them to every State in the Union as well as numerous other Countries.  We have produced thousands of award plaques and lasered on a host of electronic devices for our clients.  This is one of those in-house capabilities that few marketing companies have.

Which Printing Process do I use?

The substrate, number of colors and quantities will dictate the process, along with your desired results.  We’ve been involved in the printing industry since 1970.  Tim Zurawski has worked at several print shops, a newspaper and has letterpressed with a platen press and a Heidelberg, offset printed with the old standby Multilith 1350 and AB Dick 360, screen printed, hot stamped, pad printed, laser engraved thousands upon thousands of items, both paper,  plastic, metal and most every conceivable substrate.  If you have a printing need, we can take care of you.

Types of Color Profiles

This section would not be complete without at least touching on the various color spaces.

PMS = Pantone Matching System, usually used in offset printing industry, also used in screen printing.

CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.  These colors are used in the offset printing as well.

RGB = Red, Green and Blue.  Used on your computer monitors and most projectors.

HEX = hexadecimal used on the web.

HSB = Hue, Saturation, Brightness.

HSL = Hue, Saturation, Lightness.

YIQ = Color space used by the NTSC color TV

LAB or Cielab expresses color as three numerical values, L* for the lightness and a* and b* for the green–red and blue–yellow color components

Does this matter to you?  Well yes, if you are going to handle the reproduction of printed materials.  The most important would be knowing which color space to use for offset printing or for specifying an exact color.  Instead of saying “blue”, you may want a specific shade of blue.  If you are working on a piece that will be offset printed, like a brouchure, and you have a dominant color (blue), you may want it to be a light blue or a sky blue, but you can’t tell a printer (or designer) light blue and expect to get just the shade that only you can visualize.  So you would say I want pms 284.  That way, the designer can incorporate the exact shade of blue into the art and send it to the printer, who will print an exact 284 blue.

Remember, this color value is only to be used in offset printing or wherever else it can be duplicated.  So if we were foil printing, we would ask the foil supplier how close they can get to 284, or we would ask the embroider thread company the same question.  Most large corporations are pretty specific with their colors and expect them to be reproduced within a very small window of tolerance.  The exact colors are part of their corporate identity and many have use manuals that accompany their logo/wordmark.


The act of writing text.  The text is called “copy”.  It is what you read.  The dictionary says it this way “the activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material.”  Some times it isn’t what you say that counts as much as how you say it!

Too many words

Let’s face it, people don’t read as much as they scan.  So it is important for your copy to be short, to the point and informative.  How many times have you read something, something long and boring?  And then looked back and asked yourself why you wasted your time reading that?  Lots of books are so full of filler that you only read it because you hope there is something at the ¾ mark that you could actually learn from.  Or you have gone this far, you just want to finish what you started.  I am guilty of that, but I also have learned to cut my losses and after evaluating the first part of what I read, scan the rest to see if something just pops out at me.  If it does, then I may go back to the beginning of that chapter and read the entire chapter.  But most of the time, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it more than likely is a duck.

A good practice is to introduce photos, graphics, images and illustrations within the body of your copy to break it up and help tell your story.  Keep words to a minimum and use graphics more if you don’t want to loose your audience in your marketing materials.  Say only enough to gain their attention.  You can have the details in smaller text either on the backside of elsewhere if the details are necessary.  But to get someone’s attention, use a headline and a graphic and a couple of paragraphs of text.

When to use long copy?

Not every piece of marketing material has to have all the details.  As mentioned above, most of the time, use limited copy or use words sparingly.  However, there are times when you need to spell out the details.  For those times, make sure you include the necessary facts, but leave out the stuffing.

Use a Graphic instead of Words

If you can use a visual to tell your message, you are better off.  Make sure the graphic is relevant and indeed tells your story or at least part of your story.  Don’t just use a stock photo because it is a cool image or you like the background color or the handsome guy or good looking woman to gain attention.  This cheesy marketing has been used so often it’s, well let’s just say it’s a poor excuse for your marketing campaign.  Instead use a photo of someone using your product or benefiting in some way with what you offer.

Yes, there is a need for good copy.  Clever copy, play on words can also lighten up you message and get people feeling good about your brand.  Just make sure it is relevant and not too cheesy.

TrendStrategics can write your ads, copy and your message to hit your target audience.  Trust someone who has knowledge and experience so your marketing efforts have maximum return.