Friday, July 18, 2014

Creating Effective Printed Materials - Tip 5


The finishing touches of any printed item need to focus on the original objectives and purpose of the document.

This section may not seem applicable to all printed items but is still designed to make sure all your hard work has been worthwhile.

If you were producing a manual, a report or a document designed to educate it should be something that the recipient would want to keep “to hand” rather than lock away and never to use or refer to again. 

If it was a brochure or an item of promotional print - it should exude quality and create an image that will lay the foundations for a sale.

If it required a direct and immediate response - it should have one or more incentives and make the “call to action” immediate and available through a number of different channels.

These latter items are the easiest to evaluate and quantify but you should try and measure the effectiveness of all your printed items.


In theory the hard work has been done.  The content is relevant and the printed item is visually powerful and should effectively meet all your original objectives. 

The whole process so far has been to grab attention and create interest at a time when we are bombarded by a multitude of different messages from every direction. 

By following the Tips outlined in the previous Blogs you will have managed to build up trust, persuade or create a favourable image.  You have made effective use of good copywriting, design, colour, photography and visual communications.

The quality of the printing and papers/cards will also have added to the image.  You should have used production printing technology. Presenting your client with printed documents on an office printer would not compare with the 1200dpi quality printing from one of the production printing presses from the likes of Konica Minolta, Canon, Xerox or Ricoh!

You should have avoided all the usual common mistakes - like cramming too much information into a small area or made bad decisions over fonts and colour combinations.

Making spelling mistakes is still the most common error as we seem to have lost the art of writing and work in the short-hand world of texting and Twitter. 

However, even well-established brands can be damaged by something that passed through the checking stage - like this poster for Tesco’s Cash Back service:

We are getting to the moment of truth.

Now the last piece of the jigsaw is to make sure there is a “call to action” – the final measure of effectiveness of your communication against the original objectives.

The recipients will have been influenced by their emotions and they now need to justify their actions with logic to take the next step – whether this means actually reading and referring to your training manual, requesting more information or making a purchase.

And in terms of maximising your own investment and value for money you need to make sure the printed item you have created has been given the longest possible lifespan according to the business you operate within.

Keeping Content Fresh

One of the drawbacks of any form of printed documentation is that it is dated as soon as it is produced. 

In some industries this is obvious – selling products like car dealers selling second hand cars or an estate agent selling property.

In others it may be necessary after a year or more.

Training manuals will need to be updated to take account of any new technological developments, changes in legislation or any other variables that have caused a change in circumstance.

Providing training materials in lever arch files makes it easier to swap contents than if they were supplied as comb bound or spiral bound documents.

Some may only have a “shelf life” of a few months – particularly if a product is seasonal or at the “cutting edge” of new technology.

Content needs to be updated regularly if at all possible. 

This is the primary benefit of digital printing. 

You simply update, personalise or modify as and when you need. 
There is very little, if any, wastage.

Variable Data Applications

Another great advantage of digital printing is that it lends itself to variable data where text and images can be personalised on every printed item.

This makes the communication very personal and relevant – and usually very much more effective.

Variable data applications are now not just exclusive to improve response rates for sales and marketing departments – but also have a wide range of applications in finance and HR communications as well.

However, this is a big subject in its’ own right and will have to be covered at a later date.

Building Up Trust

The benefit of working for a company with a well-known and established brand is that trust is almost taken as a “given”.

However, for most of us working in the small and medium sized business sector we need to build up trust through effective series of communication methods and gradual persuasion. 

There are various methods to re-enforce the confidence you have in what you are trying to say. 

Good examples are testimonials, case studies, the offer of free no-obligation consultations and proposals, guarantees and any form of money-back commitment you can offer a potential client.

Case Studies always make an excellent source of credibility and trust.  The more respected the testimonial and closer the case study to the recipients own industry or situation, the better.

Offering a potential client the opportunity for a personal testimonial is a very effective conclusion of a personal proposal or quotation and a website or brochure full of testimonials provides a great deal of re-assurance.

Reducing any risk is the best way to build up trust.  Payment only upon completion of a project gives the purchaser a sense of comfort.  A money-back guarantee if anything goes wrong gives comfort.  Or a general guarantee in proportion to the value of the investment being made or for the longest possible period.  In some cases a Lifetime Guarantee can be a sales clincher!

We will all have examples of purchases which we have made personally where the guarantee has been a major factor in the logical decision-making process.

In the case of Direct2Print, we offer a total quality guarantee and a delivery guarantee which we try and honour when at all possible.

Sometimes this is an expensive commitment.  Our Fast service is a Guarantee to deliver printed documents within 6 working hours. 

We have been asked to meet this deadline on occasions and the number of times we have failed in the last 20 years can be counted on one hand.

We will do everything within our power to achieve customer satisfaction. 

One particular case that comes to mind is the production of training manuals for a customer having a training course in Geneva. 

Because the manuals were held up by Customs in Switzerland we had to arrange a 2 hour reprint and courier delivery on a Friday afternoon by a local Swiss printer – BTL Services.

The training course was starting the following day.  A full refund was not an option for the client.
We had to “bend over backwards” to resolve the problem.

The final cost we absorbed was five times the original retail value of the transaction.  But in the end our reputation was more important to uphold.

Give Them a Reason to Act Now

It is important to give someone a reason to act now rather than give them a reason not to do so. 

Otherwise all your preceding efforts to get their attention, interest and desire will have been wasted.

This is often easier to plan in marketing literature rather than other documents and business printing projects. 

We produce a large number of printed training manuals.  However, even with these feedback on their effectiveness after the course finishes is an essential component of the communication process.

The usual techniques in sales and marketing literature are in the form of a special offer, benefit, prize or gift as an extra incentive to respond immediately or to take action before a certain date.

But there are many other techniques – including highlighting a shortage of supply, possible volume or quantity rebates, a warning notice that prices will be increasing and the most important of all - introductory discounts.

In the case of Direct2Print we offer a 50% first time order discount.  This is the nearest promotion to an “offer you can’t refuse” because in most cases the profit in the first transaction is negligible.  Hopefully, by building a relationship even as an online printing specialist the repeat orders will justify the initial promotional price.

“Word of mouth” recommendation is the most valuable form of marketing.  We want to encourage the first order to overcome the potential risk of dealing with an unknown supplier and also to “spread the word” to all their contacts.

We have been able to trace business generated from third party recommendation and this is an active part of our strategy. We have effectively used a “Recommend A Friend” reward scheme for those passing on our contact details and using our services.

This service seems to have been superseded by social media.

Social media has made this aspect of referral even more important and websites such as Trip Advisor can make or break the reputation of companies – particularly those within the hospitality sector.

Finally, one interesting piece of research in direct mail claimed you needed an average of 3 benefits before a call to action to achieve good response rates and it often needed a final “push” with a special offer to get an immediate commitment or purchase.

In the old days – it was often in the PS of the correspondence – as a final and last attempt to persuade or prompt you to take action.

Make it Easy to Respond

You often have to tell the recipient what they need to do next.  Don’t just assume that they will look for your telephone number or visit your web site.

If you don’t tell them what action to take they will very often take the wrong course of action.
One direct mail tip was to involve them in actually doing something – like cutting out a coupon or completing a survey.

The golden rule is to give as many options as possible – let them respond by email, phone, fax, text, or any way convenient to the client .

Double check all this channels of communication are correct and working.  There is nothing so annoying to decide to find out more information only to discover the link has broken or the phone is not answered in a professional manner.

Also wherever possible make these lines of communication free. 

Direct2Print have been great advocates of the FREEPHONE and FREEFAX service and we have retained the same numbers for over 20 Years. 

The incremental cost is miniscule in comparison to the perceived value – especially compared to premium rate lines sometimes used for customer services.

One point to remember with 0800 numbers is that they are not always accessible from a mobile and you will also need to offer a landline number as an alternative.

BT were once the darlings of the print industry and they introduced new dialling codes to accommodate an ever-rising demand for new landline numbers – and Freephone not only overcame a geographical resistance but made stationery more long lasting.

Email continues to replace traditional channels and has revolutionised business communications. It has virtually destroyed the need for a postal service within the last 20 years – basically because it is immediate, free and traceable.

However, there is nothing more annoying than receiving spam email that is not relevant and this can seriously damage your reputation and relationship.

Technology will continue to make responding even easier in the future and it is important that we all keep up with the developments to enhance customer service.

Review and Evaluate

Finally, after the event it is time to sit back, review and evaluate the effectiveness of your project.

Ideally a combination of quantitative and qualitative feedback is required – but after all your hard work you may just want to feel that you have done your best and can have a great deal of satisfaction in the end result!

In the next series of blogs we will look at some specific Case Studies, new technological developments in the print industry and offer hints and tips on how to design specific items of business stationery.

No comments:

Post a Comment