Posts By :

Frank Scussa

ChecklistFileSetup

Follow These File Prep Tips to Speed Through Prepress

The dreaded error list. For any print project going through file prep it means a delay in progress. Missing fonts, low-res images, RGB colors—no matter the error, it takes time to troubleshoot. As a result, turnaround time becomes slower for the customer.

Extra time and lost momentum are not the frustrating parts of fixing file prep errors. It’s the knowledge that the delay was probably avoidable. In short, a bit more attention to detail and the project could have sailed right through preflight.

Ultimately, the ability to avoid delays lies in the hands of the project owner. How disciplined they are in initially setting up the file, or checking its condition before sending it to their vendor, impacts how much time is spent preparing it for print. In the hundreds of files we prep each year there are a handful of consistent errors we see:

  • Missing fonts
  • Missing images
  • Low-res images
  • Documents set to incorrect trim size
  • Missing bleeds

These are basic but important file prep details. The errors are avoidable too, if the project owner keeps a few things are in mind:

  • Always use images and graphics that have a resolution of at least 300 dpi
  • Make sure you set the document size to the correct trim size
  • If sending native files, like Indesign files, use the package option to ensure the document, all inks and all fonts are organized in one folder

We’ve developed a checklist of suggestions to help our clients prepare files that can speed through prepress and avoid delays. The list includes tips for initial document set up, things to keep in mind while designing your project, and to-dos for when you’re preparing your file for submission.

Potential-04

Segments in Print Industry Are Set to Experience Renewed Growth

To say the print industry has been going through change would be a huge understatement. With the impact of digital media, the commercial printing industry has been altered forever during the last decade. There has been significant consolidation. Some forms of print communication have disappeared or have been relegated to postscript status. Emerging print technologies have recast the roles of former principal players and marginalized once-essential production approaches. It has been a challenge for the industry to even come close to its pace of growth from 20 years ago. Based on what I saw and heard during my recent trip to the 2015 Graph Expo trade show, however, those in the print industry who made it through this transition are entering a period of potential growth.

The Graph Expo is an annual event where manufacturers and suppliers from across the graphics industry gather to show off their newest products and services to businesses and graphics professionals. At the Expo, I usually see the most recent print production technologies and I hear industry leaders discuss where we’re headed. This year certainly was no exception.

Growth in Segments – One interesting educational session I attended was “The Status and Future of the Printing Industry,” given by Frank Romano, a professor emeritus at the Rochester Institute of Technology College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. In his session, Frank provided some perspective on the transition print has gone through. Although experiencing rapid, permanent change, print still is a relevant part of today’s multichannel communications environment. The print industry certainly is smaller than its high point 20 years ago. However, the rate of consolidation has leveled off. There are now segments within the industry that are growing again, such as direct mail, promotional printing and large-format signage. This growth is supported by evolving technologies, many of which were on display at the Expo.

Digital Moving into Finishing – Coming as no surprise, digital printing was one of the most prevalent topics at the Expo. Inkjet and toner presses continue to advance, both in their ability to deliver higher quality and in the size and type of substrates they can handle. For me, the most interesting advancement in digital technology is occurring in finishing.

In the not-too-distant future, finishing techniques such as foil stamping, embossing and diecutting will no longer require dies. Printers will create these special effects directly from digital files. The fixed cost of a die and the lengthy setup process have made these effects cost prohibitive for small runs. Digital finishing opens up new opportunities for visual designers. Special effects produced in the digital workflow will make smaller runs affordable.

Print Supports Digital Media – One reason growth is occurring in areas like promotional materials and signage is the ability of these types of print to complement digital communications. They allow for personalization as well as the opportunity to link to digital media. Armed with capabilities like these, communicators can differentiate their messages and reach audience segments in conjunction with digital media. Future trends point to an ability to print on a growing variety of unique substrates. This will aid in differentiation.

Direct Mail Tips Blog Image 1

4 Simple Ways to Improve Direct Mail Letter Response

Direct mail gets attention. Despite still being unpopular with some recipients, direct mail is a proven way to gain responses. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2015 Response Rate report, direct mail actually outperforms digital channels. The DMA report indicates direct mail gets a 3.7% response rate while all digital channels combined achieve a 0.62% response.

The number of direct mail projects we do at Perfect supports the notion that it still works. We print and mail a lot of direct mail for our clients. We do high-value custom packaged mailers, discount-offering postcards, and the tried-and-true direct mail fundraising letter. Recently, we held a call with a client looking for ways to impact response for an upcoming letter campaign.

To their credit, the client had already uncovered a good bit of insight by testing previous mailings. They tested messaging, format and size. They discovered that a large envelope (9 x 13) with handwritten addresses got the best results. Better than regular #10 envelopes and better than postcards.

Envelopes at 9 x 13 can be costly, however, and writing addresses by hand doesn’t scale for large mailings. So the client wanted to discuss other factors that could improve response. Since their testing had included messaging and calls to action, we focused on a few other features of the envelope.

Size – Our client’s test results with 9 x 13 envelopes were in line with data from the DMA response report, which indicated oversized envelopes get a better response. According to the report, oversized envelopes have the best response rate at 5.0%, followed by postcards (4.25%), dimensional (4.0%), catalogs (3.9%) and letter-sized envelopes (3.5%). Their concern about cost, however, is a common one. That’s why we recommend an in-between option: 6 x 9 envelopes. They are larger than the typical #10 but they get mailed at a letter rate, which doesn’t increase postage costs.

Color – Although a potentially costly option, using color envelopes can gain attention and increase response. Solid-color envelopes stand out against much of the mail being delivered. Color offers the chance to present a unique and creative image.

Font – Although writing addresses by hand is definitely not an option for large mailings, there are plenty of script fonts available that mimic handwriting. Although obviously not authentic, they are a way to leverage the success handwriting seems to have on response while maintaining scalability.

Stock – An often underused technique to increase response is stock choice. Using a textured envelope can increase response by engaging the recipient’s sense of touch. There is often a subliminal impact of texture that causes the recipient to interact further with the piece, usually resulting in them opening the envelope.