Augment Your Printing

As technologies in communication progress, the ways that print is used continue to change. In the wake of QR Codes, interactive print is taking a giant leap into Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality is a process by which publishers are allowed to tie print directly to video, images, and interactive calls-to-action. Examples include YouTube videos, 3-D imaging, photo slide shows, and prompts to connect by phone, email, or social media.

Augmented Reality (AR) apps utilize a device’s camera to associate registered photos and graphics with an augmented experience. Once a device reads an AR graphic, it may display video, sound, or provide an interactive 3D display. There are many free AR reader apps available for Android and Apple devices. Layar and Aurasma seem to be two of the more popular and easy-to-use apps. Once the app is downloaded, it is able to view Augmented Reality on a printed piece or screen.

Augmented Reality has many practical uses as well as creative ones. The auto industry uses AR in instructional booklets to assist the reader with complicated repairs by utilizing 3-D images and video. Magazines use it to enhance articles. For instance, action photos in sports magazines come alive on a device when they are scanned. Home decor magazines can create interactive 3D images showing how furniture will look in the reader’s own living room, kitchen, or bath.

Possibilities range from simple links and videos to complex product displays with online purchasing options. Statistics show upward trends in almost all forms of mobile communication. Augmented Reality will change the way printing is viewed for years to come.

Websites are as Important as Ever

There is no question that, with the advent of digital marketing and much more efficient traditional media industries, our ability to communicate messages to large groups of people is stronger than ever. Utilizing a “marketing mix” can prove to be an extremely effective way to cast a wide net and ensure that your message reaches as many people as possible. A multi-faceted marketing campaign, however, can sometimes lead to an inconsistent and diluted experience for your customers.

The risk of being spread too thin is oftentimes reason enough for a campaign to narrow their efforts down to one or two controllable channels. An easy solution to that, however, is to use your website as a “base of operations” through which you drive all of your marketing traffic. After creating a central landing page, it is very simple to add a link to any post, email, printed piece etc. Not only does a central website give you the ability to display more in-depth information, but it also gives you the opportunity to more closely track and analyze your traffic.

Fully Customizable

Unlike third-party digital marketing outlets, your website is something over which you have complete control. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, while having access to a large group of customers, can be very restrictive on what you can share based on text limits, image sizes, etc. Your website, on the other hand, is fully customizable, and can provide any amount of information that you feel is necessary. This is why many companies are using social media simply as a way to catch their customers’ attention, but ultimately driving traffic to their website where they provide a robust final product.

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Analytics

By driving traffic through your website, you give yourself much more analytical insight into what marketing techniques are working and why. Services like Google Analytics can provide you with information on how traffic is being driven to your website, and what they’re doing when they get there. Driving traffic through your website can give you an incredible amount of extremely valuable information on which marketing techniques are working, and which ones are failing.

Around the Clock Access

Your website is like an employee who works for you 24/7. Because someone can access your website at any time of day from nearly everywhere on the planet, it makes sense to spend time making it as effective and polished as possible. The more you strengthen it with quality content, the more likely it is to wind up on the search results of someone who is genuinely interested in your products or services. Clean up that quality content with an attractive design, and you’ll give yourself a great chance of converting that traffic in as a long-term customer.

Self Snail-Mailers

Self-mailers are printed and addressed in a way that is a useful format for newsletters, donation mailings, and promotions. The post office changed its tabbing and address orientation requirements on January 27, 2013. Designing self-mailers with the new regulations in mind will save you a headache when your next project is delivered to the post office.

Standard self-mailers are either sized at 8.5″ x 11″ trifolded to 8.5″ x 3.67″ or bifolded to 8.5″ x 5.5″. Either of these pieces need to be tabbed twice on the top of the mailer. These tabs should be within an inch of each edge of the mail piece. The address panel now needs to be on the closed side of the self-mailer at least 5/8″ from the bottom and 1/2″ from the right hand side of the piece. The paper printed on should be at least a 70# weight.

photo (1)In addition, the post office needs 4″ above or below the address to account for Intelligent Mail bar code (IMb). IMbs have replaced POSTNET bar codes and are required to receive automation discounts on postage. The new height requirement for IMbs is a bit taller and ranges anywhere from 0.015″ – 0.025″. When inserting pre-addressed letters into window envelopes, this should be kept in mind. If there are more than 4 or 5 address lines, positioning of the address may need to be adjusted to ensure that the bar code shows through the window.

With all of the changes at the post office, it’s probably a good idea to check a project’s specifications with a postal rep or direct mail firm before finalizing a design. Wells continues to be a trusted resource for mailings, even if there are just in the preparation stages.

-Dan Dettman

Quick Tips for Maximizing Facebook Reach

For many businesses and organizations, Facebook can be an incredibly valuable tool for brand development and connecting with their fans for a relatively low expense. Whether you’re an international brand or a family-run small business, the ability to convey a personal side to your business is a necessary step in this growing age of digital marketing. Knowing how to effectively use Facebook, however, is a skill that requires a creative mind, in-depth analysis, and no shortage of patience.

To determine your reach (how many people see your posts) Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank. EdgeRank is used to determine what content appears on a user’s News Feed based on how they interact and engage with certain content. For example, if you tend to like a friend/page’s posts on a regular basis, their posts are more likely to appear higher and more frequently in your News Feed later. So if you, as a brand, want to ensure that your posts continue to reach as many people as possible, your aim should be to make your content as engaging as possible.

Here are some tips on how to do that:

 

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1) Use photos

Its no secret that Facebook is becoming a more visually-based platform. With the advent of cover photos, larger photos in both the Timeline and News Feed, and their acquisition of Instagram, Facebook is fully embracing the visual bias of the Internet. While definite numbers tend to vary from study to study, they almost unanimously point to the fact that adding photos to your posts result in substantially higher engagement rates. In fact, several Facebook executives have come out and said that the most engaging posts are typically short, personal text coupled with an appropriate photo.

 2) Monitor

For brand pages, Facebook Insights provides succinct yet crucial information as to the effectiveness of our posts and how they engage our audiences. For each post, they provide us with the reach (how many people saw your post), engaged users (the number of people who clicked on or were engaged with your post), and the number of people talking about your post (how many people liked, commented, or shared your post). The more people that engaged with the post, the more people will see it later. The higher number of people “talking about” your post, then there is an even HIGHER chance of your posts being seen in the future.

 3) Have Fun

While advertising is slowly becoming a larger and larger part of the experience, Facebook was built as a social interaction tool and is most effective when used as such. The brands with the most success on Facebook have done so because they have moved on from traditional product marketing by using a more personal and casual approach. Try to stay away using Facebook exclusively as another medium to spurt out products and services. Go at it with a more casual outlook and let your fans and customers see who YOU really are.

Tracking the Impact of Your Printing

The ability to analyze the reach of your marketing efforts is becoming a necessity for businesses and organizations across all industries. The “who, what, where, when, why, and how” given to us by market research can give us vital information about our audience and how to more effectively reach them in the future. As internet usage continues to increase, the more we will see these marketing research techniques shift towards web-analytics and other web-based information.

At first thought, it might seem as though the printing industry would take a hit as customers move towards methods with more traceability. It is believed, however, that if print marketing is willing to evolve, it could see a steady increase as these technologies develop and become more readily available. Integrating traditional printing with cutting edge analytics will prove to be an incredibly effective marketing technique.

One example of this is using customized shortened URLs for a direct mail piece. By using a customer URL for a specific direct mail campaign, you can easily track how many customers you brought to your site through that campaign. Using these shortened URLs with web-analytics software (like Google Analytics), you can even narrow down a concrete return on investment (ROI) for your printed materials.

As these technologies continue to develop, the printing industry will continue to thrive as a valuable marketing tool, so long as it is willing to adapt. By effectively combining digital technology with print technology, you can help reach the perfect blend of “mixed marketing” that leads to an enormous ROI and increased reach.

Role of Technology in Shaping Printing Unions

Over the years, innovations in printing technology have played a pivotal role in the evolution of the industry, and have been instrumental in shaping printing unions as well.

In 1850 the very first printing union was formed: the New York Printer’s Union. This rapidly evolved into the more extensive International Typographical Union (ITU), a comprehensive labor union with members from all phases of the printing process. Over the next half century, many changes occurred in the industry as a result of technological advancements. The 1870s saw the beginning of the shift from lithographic to offset printing. With this and other technological advancements came increased job specialization, which in turn led to segregation into smaller trade unions. The International Printing Pressmen Union of North America (IPPU) and the International Brotherhood of Bookbinding (IBB) were formed in 1889 and 1892 respectively, and many others followed suit.

The changes to the industry didn’t stop there! The printing industry continued to evolve over the 20th century. Other production methods came into vogue, including screenprinting, flexography, and photocopying. The printing industry was brimming with new technology as well as innovations to existing technology, which eventually rendered some methods (such as lithography) obsolete.

Naturally, as the methods of production continued to evolve, so did the unions. Many splits and mergers occurred throughout the 20th century. In 2005, the shift to digital technology in the industry resulted in one last merger between the two largest unions in the industry; the Graphic Communications International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters joined forces once again to become the Graphic Communications Conference (GCC).

Welcome to the Family, Ryobi

Wells would like to announce its newest addition to the press room: a Ryobi 3302M. The Ryobi is a small 2-color offeset press that can handle a 12″ x 18″ press sheet as well as 8.5″ x 11″ sheets. It is considered a “true 2-color press” due to the separately functioning ink units. the Ryobi offers lower pricing on shorter one, two, and three color print runs.

Ryobi

“With the shift in buying patterns to lower quantity orders, the Ryobi will allow us to stay competitive in this emerging market,” says co-owner, Tim Schorr.

The Ryobi also has an add-on envelope feeder. This will allow Wells to turn around two and three color envelopes a bit faster than our previous press permitted. Business stationary projects like letterhead, business cards, and #10 envelopes are ideal for this press.

-Dan Dettman

Benefits of a Union Print Shop

Union Print ShopBecause the employees of Wells Print & Digital Services are represented by a labor union, the company fits the distinction of a “union print shop.” The official union accreditation by the Allied Printing Trades Council allows printed pieces from Wells to be labeled with a “union bug” notifying others that the products was manufactured with responsible labor management. At Wells, however, the importance of the union runs much deeper than any outside certification or marketing technique.

Chris Vinson, the Operations Manager at Wells Print & Digital Services feels that the union representation of his employees promotes a much more efficient and productive working environment. Speaking at a small business leadership panel discussion, Vinson stated, “I get to manage people with respect, not out of fear. A lot of that is because of the union – they know they have a voice – they can approach me without fear of reprisal.” This open environment of communication and feedback allows the company to continually streamline their processes, resulting in high quality products, low costs, and efficient turnaround on projects.

There a plenty of reasons why someone might choose to go with a union print shop for their printed products. Some may choose one in solidarity with their labor community, while others may choose it to distinguish themselves as a socially conscious and aware purchaser. Whatever your reasoning, we here at Wells will continue to work in conjunction with the labor union because we believe that it provides us with valuable insight, a friendly atmosphere, and an ultimately a better product at a competitive price.

 

Find Your Social Media Niche

Managing the social media efforts for a business or organization can be an overwhelming process. As the field continues to grow as a viable marketing technique, we’re constantly being introduced with new platforms that allow us to connect with our customers. How do we find the time to regularly post  on our Facebook feed, monitor our Twitter accounts, pin to our boards on Pinterest, and post to Google Plus with meaningful and effective content on a regular basis? The answer to that question may just be that, in the world of social media, less is more.

In the world of digital marketing, content is king. Having something meaningful and interesting to say can prove to be more effective in bringing in prospective customers than tapping into a specific series demographics through a network of social media platforms. This is not to say, however, that you should neglect all other forms of social media other than what you already use. What we’re saying is that you might find it more effective to find out which platforms you’re most comfortable with, and focus on developing meaningful and captivating content specifically for those mediums. Trying to dilute your attention across a wide array of platforms may end up doing damage to your brand by not projecting high-quality content.

Stretching yourself too thin can actually do significant damage to your social brand down the road. For example, Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to help determine what to display in a users News Feed based on what they typically like to look at and interact with. If your brand page is consistently pushing out content that is not engaging, this algorithm will determine that your fans are not interested in your page, and therefore your content is less likely to appear on their News Feed in the future.

So when it comes to social media management, remember that its important to focus on quality, not quantity. If you’re posting quality content, you are more likely to make your voice heard.

Mixed Marketing

Social media, search engine optimization, and other digital marketing efforts can serve as a great way to raise awareness and develop your brand. Studies have shown, however, that these methods prove to be drastically less effective when they stand alone in your marketing campaign, as opposed to those campaign utilizing mixed marketing. By utilizing an array of marketing mediums will not only cast a wider net, but it will help you reach a more meaningful and useful audience.

A well organized marketing campaign should rely on linking different marketing methods to one another. For example, a strong website or a detailed catalog may not be incredibly useful when used by themselves, but together their combined message is far more likely to lead to a sale, donation, or some other form of engagement. A study by the United States Postal Service found that websites supported by catalogs yield 163% more revenue than those not supported by catalogs.

Another great example of how mixed marketing can be incredibly useful is by combining direct mailings with other marketing activities. Studies show that digital marketing techniques (such as a social media campaign) increase their campaign payback by up to 20% when teamed up with direct mail. By driving customers from one medium to another is a great way to promote engagement in your marketing campaign.

So in a time when it is easy to assume that paperless means more streamlined/efficient, don’t forget about the effectiveness of diversifying. Marketing from different angles and encourage people to move from one medium to another can be a great way to make your marketing campaign stick.