Alphagraphics blog

Category: Print Management

Print Rules the Local Marketing Domain

Marketing for small businesses is all about getting to know your local customer base. The flower shop with a 20-mile delivery radius or the bike shop that offers service to customers throughout the surrounding 10-mile areas—these are examples of businesses that have a finite customer base. Being able to recognize and appeal to that customer base is the secret to marketing success, and print marketing could play a huge role in that success. While it’s more important than ever for local businesses to optimize their online presence, there’s also tremendous advantage of presenting a physical reminder of your existence within a particular service area. Sending out EDDM postcards or handing out brochures at a community event can have a profoundly more impactful effect than emails or social media posts. With print comes presence The physicality of print marketing collateral is its biggest asset. When you hand a potential customer a business card or tack up a flyer at your local coffee shop, you’re making a statement that’s real, in more ways than one. And, when you operate a business that exists in the real world—in a local community with a defined presence—representing your physicality with print collateral is doubly effective. To make an even more impactful statement with print marketing, local businesses can even take a stance in their communities. Passing out handouts at a local festival or canvassing local businesses with brochures are ways to reinforce your presence in a physical way. Print is personable One of the biggest problems with digital marketing is how impersonal it can be. Even an email addressed to you pales in comparison to a piece of general print collateral that’s physically handed to you by a person. And, when you consider the many finishes, paper stocks and embossing options of print materials, it becomes very easy to create character with print. Any sales rep will tell you that being able to put a physical piece of paper in the hands of a prospective customer is the very best way to make a first impression. For local small businesses, this is an easy, lasting way to introduce your business and your brand to the finite number of patrons who may indulge you. The accessibility of print Finally, print is supremely accessible for brick-and-mortar businesses—not only in how it’s made, but also in how it’s deployed. You can print a banner or window signage and put it up for all to see, all without collecting a single email address or soliciting a single person. There’s a very passive philosophy to print marketing that benefits local businesses by creating exposure without the pressure of a direct solicitation. And when it comes to obtaining print marketing, there are few barriers to overcome. Print is affordable, making it easy for virtually any small business to budget. It’s also versatile—from large print signage to small handouts, business cards to brochures and beyond. And, of course, if there’s an AlphaGraphics near you, print is also incredibly easy to customize. With design and print professionals on staff, we can help you create the print collateral you need to help your local small business flourish. Stop in today or get in touch with your local AlphaGraphics to learn more about the power of print marketing for local small businesses. Read article →

Print Marketing: Your Physical Complement in a Digital World

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that direct mail has a response rate that’s more than 30 times greater than email marketing. The business is expected to increase in value more than 225 percent by 2024. And this is just a single facet of print marketing today! Billions of business cards and mail advertisements are printed and distributed annually in the United States, and for good reason: customers still like their paper and are more likely to act on it compared to many forms of digital marketing. This isn’t the only reason print marketing is surging, either. The efficiency of print While businesses often feel pressure to go digital in various aspects, modern advances in printing technology have made physical printing more efficient than in the past. Companies can request small numbers of prints on-demand and still have it be cost-efficient. Previously, mass offset printing required a much larger quantity of materials to be printed in order for the printing to be worth the cost, due to the higher set-up costs. Digital printing also allows materials to be produced at a local level, providing advertisers with their materials to distribute much quicker. The return on investment of on-demand printing Printing small projects on-demand—such as promotional materials—is made possible with digital printing. Companies receive a printing order (usually in smaller numbers) and print them as the order is received and processed. The costs with on-demand printing are much smaller for smaller orders due to the set-up costs associated with offset printing methods. Various promotional materials can be produced cheap thanks to digital printing. Materials for key chains and pens can be printed in an affordable, quick manner for trade shows. Mailed advertisements with coupon codes are also commonly produced, as customers are more likely to interact with them compared to an email advertisement. Signs that you see at many stores, including banners and various promotional signs, are often printed through digital printing. All of these examples illustrate the benefit of physical over digital—in cost, tangibility and value. Being able to affordably print a product that can be touched and seen in the real world is equating to a higher return on investment for many businesses in today’s crowded digital marketplace. Versatility is always in-demand Digital marketing has its limits. Pop-up ads can only be so effective and email marketing is often hit or miss. Where these mediums may fail, the versatility of print marketing often succeeds. This makes it an extremely viable complement to digital advertising. Printing packaging for products or branding merchandise for promotions is an undeniable way to improve your marketing capabilities. People may click out of your brand’s pop-ups or delete its emails, but they’re bound to notice packaging or take note of the branded swag you give them. Why? Because these items are tangible and real—more than just pixels that lack form and function. In this way, a wide number of products can be physically printed and successfully used as marketing collateral. From apparel to banners, promo materials to packaging, vehicle signage to brochures and beyond, there’s virtually no limit to the versatility of print products. If you’re looking for ways to ramp-up your advertising and marketing, it may be time to go back to basics. In a digital world, print marketing is thriving once again. See for yourself how print collateral can complement your digital advertising and consult with an AlphaGraphics marketing specialist today. Read article →

Simple Marketing Automation Will Save You Time in 2017

Automation is the way of the future and in the coming years, it could determine the success or failure of many businesses. Those that adapt and streamline their automation will be able to save money, conserve resources and innovate on a better scale than those that don’t. It’s important to start thinking now about how you can start automating different facets of your business. Perhaps the easiest place to start investigating automation is through marketing. There exists a number of relatively simple tools for marketing automation that allow business owners to get a feel for the process and to instantly improve their day-to-day capabilities. Let’s take a look at a few automation tips and tricks across different marketing mediums! Email automation Chances are, your business sends emails regularly—be it a newsletter, sales email, receipt of purchase or something else. If you’re still manually sending emails, this is the first place you should think about automating. Email platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact and others come equipped with automation scripts built in, allowing you to cut down on the effort you put into sending an email. For example, it’s possible to create a month’s worth of emails ahead of time, schedule them all and automate their dissemination throughout the month. For a more advanced automation example, consider the possibility of using variable data in emails. You can set up triggers that automatically take a customer’s name from a form submission, insert it into an email and then send that email—all without you ever having to touch it! Social media automation Businesses that can succeed on social media are businesses with brands that flourish. If you’re putting in a ton of time on social media but seeing very little in the way of returns, it’s a sign that automation might be in order. Use platforms like HootSuite or TweetDeck to schedule social posts throughout the month, so you’re not spending countless hours per day investigating newsfeeds. Through these platforms, it’s also possible to investigate what time of day your posts are best sent and what type of response or reaction they’re getting. To take things up a notch, consider using a program like IFTTT (If This, Then That) in conjunction with your social posts. This program allows you to create “recipes” for your social channels—for example, “if someone posts a picture to your Facebook wall, download that picture automatically.” Print marketing automation If you use business cards, flyers or letterhead, the opportunity for print marketing automation is within your grasp! Consider working with AlphaGraphics to open your own agOnline web-to-print portal. A print portal will allow you to automate the order and re-order of these essential products, among other printed collateral. It’s a quick, efficient, effortless way to keep your tasks in line, while maintaining a hands-off approach. Seek out automation! The above are just a few examples of how you can automate in 2017 with relative ease. Make no mistake—this is just the tip of the automation iceberg! Once you become comfortable with basic automation, start looking for other ways to streamline your various marketing prospects. Then, start investigating automation in other aspects of your business. The secret to automation is experimentation and you’ll never know if something works unless you try it! Read article →

How to Optimize Your Large-Format Printing

Large-format signage is a cornerstone of any business’ marketing plan. From the window signs that announce your next sale, to the trade show banners displaying your company branding, going big with your print materials means getting noticed when it matters most. But just because you make a message bigger doesn’t mean you’re making it more effective. In fact, large-format signage comes with its own special set of rules and guidelines to ensure its effectiveness. Take a look at a few essential aspects to remember when you’re designing bigger print pieces and why they’re so important: Remember resolution If you’re using photos, text or anything else outside of a vector graphic to design a large-print piece of collateral, be mindful of the resolution you’re using. Many people make the mistake of designing a large-print document that’s not quite true-to-size and when the time comes to print, they’re left with blurriness or distortion that sullies the entire piece of signage. The solution to preventing resolution issues is to design with the appropriate dimensions and resolution, right from the outset. Remember that programs like Photoshop allow you to scale your document to your needs—take the time to adjust the height, width and resolution to be conducive to your print needs. Use vector images and text Vectoring all of the images and text on your large-format design is imperative to a crisp, clean finished piece of collateral. Vectoring—as done by programs like Adobe Illustrator—allows the program to render shapes at any size or resolution properly, via the use of geometric equations. Simply put, if your dimensions need to be changed or altered for print, you can rely on vectored graphics to automatically adjust, without compromising resolution. De-clutter and focus More space doesn’t mean more room for eccentricities on your large-format items. The more items you try to cram onto a poster or banner, the harder it’s going to be to discern the message of that banner. Keep it simple and focused, and leverage your extra space to reinforce the core message. On this same token, make sure you’re accounting for all of the essential components of a good design, including branding elements, a clear call to action, and inspiring content. Understanding depth Large-format printing has a unique feature that must be considered for success: depth. People seeing your message from far away might not have the same experience as someone looking at it up close, which means they could be getting a different visual message. Make sure you consider the design of your larger signage at varying distances. For example, have a mockup printed and stand 3 feet away from it, then 10 feet, then 20 feet—at each distance, pay attention to what features of the signage stand out and which ones are lost with depth. Print large, print loud! Large-format print can be a critical and highly effective part of your business’ marketing efforts… when it’s designed properly. Remember to take into account the above tips that are unique to larger designs. Or, to make sure your large-format signage is perfect the first time around, get in touch with your local AlphaGraphics large-print experts today! Read article →
January 05 / 2017
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Making the Most of a Web-to-Print Portal: How to Maximize Your Business’ Marketing Efficiency

Any opportunity to streamline a business’ efficiency and processes is an opportunity worth exploring. Most often, these opportunities involve using new technologies and resources to either cut down on the time spent doing a task or reducing the number of steps involved. And, when the opportunity to do both arises, there’s no question that it’s going to translate into major successes for the business in general. A Web-to-Print portal is a superb example of one such opportunity and something that virtually any business can utilize when it comes to streamlining productivity and efficiency. An online print portal gives businesses the ability to:
  • Streamline the print materials ordering processAlphaGraphics Web to Print AGOnline
  • Reduce mistakes involved with ordering materials
  • Preserve digital records of materials ordering
  • Broaden access to critical printed materials
The benefits of a web-to-print portal continue to expound when you look at all of the critical situations they can improve. Take a look at some of the proven, key applications for a print portal that might help to improve the efficiency of your business below. Perfect for multiple locations Because a Web-to-Print portal involves decentralized ordering—anyone with Internet access can use it, from anywhere in the world—there’s no need to convolute the process of ordering materials across multiple locations. What’s more, because the same portal can be used in an inter-organizational capacity, the business itself can rely on centralized approval and billing! And with the option to implement approval procedures for headquarters to authorize orders before they’re processed, locations are able to reap the benefits of autonomy without lacking in accountability. Perfect for remote employees Again, thanks to the widely accessible, decentralized nature of a Web-to-Print portal, employees on-the-go or those working from remote locations are able to benefit. Remote employees can easily order their own business cards and branded materials without having to navigate through home office processes and procedures, and materials can be shipped directly to their location to facilitate seamless productivity. Perfect for sales team autonomy Bureaucracy can be a productivity killer in businesses—the more steps in the chain of command, the more opportunity for error and the longer it’s going to take to accomplish anything. Rather than running a materials order up the flagpole and hoping it gets a sign-off from a higher-up, you can create autonomy in your sales department through a Web-to-Print portal. Create login credentials for specific employees and delegate ordering to them to create accountability and remove the numerous barriers of waiting for a request to go through the chain of command. Perfect for standardized documents Standardized documentation is a critical factor in many day-to-day work environments across a wide variety of industries including medical, legal, insurance, education, non-profit and more. From forms to packet information, brochures to internal documents, a Web-to-Print portal streamlines the ordering process for repetitive print orders, to give you peace of mind that these oft-used documents are just a few clicks away. It’s a rare opportunity to dramatically improve an entire business process, to both save time and money. Web-to-Print portals offer this opportunity and many others to help businesses utilize digital technology to get the printed materials they need to succeed.   Because a Web-to-Print portal involves decentralized ordering—anyone with Internet access can use it, from anywhere in the world—there’s no need to convolute the process of ordering materials across multiple locations. What’s more, because the same portal can be used in an inter-organizational capacity, the business itself can rely on centralized approval and billing! And with the option to implement approval procedures for headquarters to authorize orders before they’re processed, locations are able to reap the benefits of autonomy without lacking in accountability. Perfect for remote employees Again, thanks to the widely accessible, decentralized nature of a Web-to-Print portal, employees on-the-go or those working from remote locations are able to benefit. Remote employees can easily order their own business cards and branded materials without having to navigate through home office processes and procedures, and materials can be shipped directly to their location to facilitate seamless productivity. Perfect for sales team autonomy Bureaucracy can be a productivity killer in businesses—the more steps in the chain of command, the more opportunity for error and the longer it’s going to take to accomplish anything. Rather than running a materials order up the flagpole and hoping it gets a sign-off from a higher-up, you can create autonomy in your sales department through a Web-to-Print portal. Create login credentials for specific employees and delegate ordering to them to create accountability and remove the numerous barriers of waiting for a request to go through the chain of command. Perfect for standardized documents Standardized documentation is a critical factor in many day-to-day work environments across a wide variety of industries including medical, legal, insurance, education, non-profit and more. From forms to packet information, brochures to internal documents, a Web-to-Print portal streamlines the ordering process for repetitive print orders, to give you peace of mind that these oft-used documents are just a few clicks away. It’s a rare opportunity to dramatically improve an entire business process, to both save time and money. Web-to-Print portals offer this opportunity and many others to help businesses utilize digital technology to get the printed materials they need to succeed. Read article →
March 22 / 2016

Why Should You Be Utilizing a Web-to-Print Portal for Ordering Printed Collateral?

Does your small business or organization require branded products or marketing materials that are ordered and printed consistently? If so, ask yourself: are you reaping the benefits of a Web-to-Print portal to manage and process these orders?   What is a Web-to-Print portal? A Web-to-Print portal is a convenient and streamlined way to get the printed collateral you need, without having to worry about managing individual orders or keeping track of order documentation. It works like this. Your printer sets up a website that has all of your frequently-ordered materials on it: business cards, brochures, sales sheets, flyers, stationary, forms and whatever else you might use on a regular basis. This is your portal—it’s the place where you’ll come to order materials when you’ve run out. It can even be updated and changed regularly as you add or discontinue materials!   How Does it Work? The function of a Web-to-Print portal is simple: you select the materials you need, submit the order, and your request will be forwarded directly to your printer! Your company or organization is billed based on your agreement with the printer, but in the meantime, your order for materials is being fulfilled in real time, so you have the items you need to be most effective on the job. Best of all, the portal is going to serve as an organizational tool for your orders and documentation. No more flipping through binders of purchase orders to see when you last ordered business cards or trying to track down proof of an order for your department head to sign off on!   The Many Benefits of a Web-to-Print Portal A Web-to-Print portal is the pinnacle of efficiency when it comes to ordering printed products. With just a few clicks of the mouse and mere minutes on the clock you can effectively put in an order for everything you need, to be processed quickly by your printer. Moreover, your portal is going to have any and all information you might need before you order: quantities per pack, pricing, turnaround time and other intricate details such as what the stock of the material itself. In this way, you can determine exactly what you need as you order, preventing mistakes that end up costing money. The sheer compartmentalized nature of a Web-to-Print portal is also going to dramatically improve order organization. The portal will have everything from order histories to order documentation and more, all digitized and cataloged to make your life easier! This is the ultimate time-saver when it comes to pulling up specific orders or quality checking your documentation against problems. Finally, let’s not discount simplicity. Ordering printed materials through a Web-to-Print portal is going to be so easy that just about anyone can do it without fail. If your office manager is out sick or you’re delegating the task to someone else, you can have peace of mind that an order is going to be properly placed thanks to the ease of use associated with the portal.   Setting Up a Web-to-Print Portal If your business or organization isn’t already using a Web-to-Print portal to streamline the ordering of printed products, now is the time to start! Contact your local AlphaGraphics today to quickly set up a branded portal that you can begin using in just days! Then, have peace of mind when you place orders through your new portal, knowing that we’ll take care of the rest. Read article →
February 05 / 2016