More haste, less speed

Have you noticed how much of a hurry we do things in these days? To say that modern life is ‘fast-paced’ is an understatement. 

At school one of my favourite stories was the Aesop fable of the Hare and the Tortoise where the moral of the story was said to have inspired the phrase “the more haste, the worse speed”. This also warned us of the dangers of being too cocky and promising more than we could hope to achieve, like the over-confident hare who bragged so much and goaded the tortoise into action. Certainly, the message was received that if you rush you can come a cropper but if you stay calm and take slow measured steps you will still reach your goal. I'm sure it is as a result of this story that we seem to associate haste with rabbits; Lewis Carroll’s "late, I'm late" White Rabbit  or being described as ‘as mad as a March hare'

I wonder if, in their 80s and 90s ads, Cadbury’s deliberately restored some self-respect for the Lepus genus as a whole, when they created the “Caramel Bunny” – do you remember the languid and lovely rabbit who urged all the other woodlands creatures to “take it easy”? I do, she was my  favourite, long before that hussy Jessica Rabbit came along!

What has all this to do with print I hear you ask (foot tapping impatiently)? Well we are constantly asked “how quick can you…?” and “when can I get …?” 

So, I have learned from some mistakes of my own not to act in haste and thought I might share these tips with you to save you some time too:

  • Never say your lead-time is 3-5 days – a client only ever hears the “3”

  • Don’t over promise to win an order by offering a delivery date you can’t achieve.

  • Choose phrases like “next day” carefully and always explain if you have a cut off time. (We offer a 24-hour turnaround on posters, but we still have people who think that means the same day or within the hour!)

  • Always make it clear at what point the clock starts ticking – we use an expression “… from proof approval” which does not mean from the day you ask me for a quote!

  • Try and leave a little bit of extra time for proper proofing and spell-checking– it can save you the cost and time associated with a re-print.

  • If someone tells you “but I can order this online and get it next day” ask yourself why they are ringing you in the first place? If it was so easy and available online then they would have already ordered it; they are coming to you because they want extra service, a local supplier or whatever and that might only be available on a slightly longer lead-time.

  • If you can make time to send a written quotation or order acknowledgment that details what you are producing and when by it saves your clients from having to ring and ask you if it is ready.

  • If you are not a manufacturer then be sure to have systems in place to chase your suppliers for progress - never assume they got your email or understood your instructions in the first place.

  • Make sure you have reliable couriers who can deliver on time, especially if you are delivering to an event or exhibition on a specific date.

  • If you are delivering to home addresses and need a signature make sure you let your client know to expect it. If they get a card because the delivery was made when they were out it can cause delays and frustration.

  • Many couriers now offer a service where they tell your client when they can expect the delivery driver to arrive – we’re trying to get more automated about this ourselves but hey, one thing at a time!

For reading on the subject of setting achievable goals and other benefits of the aggregation of marginal gains I recommend "The Chimp Paradox" by Prof. Steve Peters.

If you like our rabbit mascot and a lighter read you will enjoy  "The importance of being a hedgehog" by Hester Durkan

No subscription necessary

There now exists a whole generation of children who have now grown up with technology and the internet at their fingertips - literally! When it comes to researching a topic, checking a spelling or searching for an alternative turn of phrase for our content, we no longer turn to a reference library, a dictionary or a thesaurus. Google has all the answers instead, without moving from our seat. Or talking to anyone.

In December 2016 The Literacy Trust told us "One in 11 (9.4%) children and young people said they do not have a book of their own at home, rising to one in eight (13.1%) children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Of these children, those who receive free school meals, boys of all ages and teenagers are the most likely to say they have no books of their own at home.

The research also found that children who say they own a book are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who say they don’t own a book (28.8% vs 1.9%) and are four times less likely to read below the expected level (12.9% vs 48.1%)."

Warning: you need to be over 40 to get this next bit but when I was little  and you learned to cook it was your Mum or your Home Economics teacher who taught you. Then you graduated to owning a cookery book and you followed a recipe. If you wanted to learn how to fold paper into interesting shapes, you got a book on Origami (and got all competitive with your sister about it). When your Dad serviced your car on the drive at home, he probably had a Haines manual on the floor beside him - with pictures in of how to do it. 

Books were where we got all our information before the internet. Libraries were the hushed halls of learning where all these marvellous tomes lived and you could borrow them, learn what you needed and bring them back 2 weeks later. As a child I longed to be a librarian, stamping dates in the fly leaf and shushing people! I have always loved books and recently I had a bit of a work-related epiphany when I realised the technological advances I always seem so keen to resist have actually delivered me the opportunity to finally be a part of the literary world at last. I'm a printer, we print mainly digitally now, the set up costs are minimal and print run lengths are low - in effect this means that I can print books now. I can print them in beautiful full colour, with lavish illustrations, with paper back or hard covers, on all kinds of papers and from a few pages to 100s. Thanks to the abundance of clever bookbinders in Leicester, I can also get the printed pages bound beautifully too. The world of books is now open to me and I am excitedly gathering authors and illustrators, publishers and promoters in this field into my contacts. And of course, we can use the internet to promote them and to sell them, to tweet and to post photos of them. I'm not so old-fashioned that I can't see the value of selling and promoting books online. 

If you are terribly modern though and still prefer to get all your information from the internet you will probably have noticed an increase in apps and websites that are content driven - enticing you to subscribe in order to receive their "latest" material - this might be a new way of distance learning and bite-size courses can be delivered very effectively this way but hold on, you could just buy (or borrow) a book about it. You don't need wi fi or a screen that can be seen in the sun, you can just sit outside and read it. I don't need to sign in with Facebook or get a "buddy" to join me (does anyone realise that is just you sharing your data with them and doing their selling for them by referral?). Remember this - subscription sites are there to sell subscriptions - it actually doesn't matter what the content is. I'm not saying that is always a bad thing or that the content is not valuable but stop before you plug in your debit card details and sign up for the next £9.99 a month and ask yourself "couldn't I just buy a book on the subject and read that?" One that has been written by a qualified practitioner of that subject or produced by an Institution with genuine credentials.

A few other interesting facts about books (that I found on the internet so they must be true). According to Forbes : in 2017, (book) sales increased 1.9% over 2016 according to NDP Bookscan (they had increased 3.3% in 2016 over 2015, according to Publishers Weekly). This follows a period where e-book sales have declined and sales in audiobooks are on the increase. 

So it is not just me saying it OK? Books are good news, they genuinely help you to learn; to read and to write is just the start of our education. They get people talking and sharing in real life. And best of all, once you own the book, there is no subscription necessary.

What price loyalty?

How many loyalty cards have you got in your purse? Probably quite a few and, if you use them to their full potential, I expect you have the means to save quite a bit of money one way or another. But do you really appreciate their value? They are costing the provider when you use it, you are effectively spending their money instead of yours after all - even if you are just claiming a free coffee for every 8 you paid for, the coffee shop is standing the cost of your free one. Isn't that nice? And doesn't it make you go back in there to get another stamp, and maybe take a friend there and buy them coffee so you get two stamps? That is basically how it works - you take your repeat business somewhere and they reward you with a free treat or money back or another benefit that you don't enjoy elsewhere.

So, could a loyalty card work for your business? See how many of the following questions you answer YES to:

1. Do you have a product or service that can be purchased on more than one occasion?
2. Do you attract new business by referral? e.g. do your existing customers recommend you to others?
3. Do you sell product online or in a "bricks and mortar" shop?
4. Does your product have a shelf-life, use by date, regular or seasonal use?
5. Do you send out mailings or other offers to your existing customers?
6. Would you like to be able to stay in contact with customers after they leave your premises or your website?
7. Do you keep a record of your customers details and/or the types of items they buy?
8. Would you like to learn more about your customers spending habits and/or ask them for feedback?

If you answered YES to any of the above then chances are that if you provided a loyalty card with a first purchase you could have tapped into a way to get people coming back to you again and again. If you have an online store then there are lots of ways you can offer promo codes, member-only access areas that require a sign in and ways to record the "points" accrued. Clearly you need to discuss that with your web developer (not a printer!).

For a really tiny amount of money you can produce handy sized printed cards that include space for someone to write their name and address (when they hand in the completed one). Space to record a "stamp" or verify a purchase has taken place. Room for your own details and maybe even another product suggestion or image to tempt them back. As the High Street has to work even harder to beat off online competition, a loyalty card is a great way to humanise your contact with customers and spend just a little bit more time in conversation with them. So for answering those 8 questions, here are 8 little ideas for you to consider:

1. Offer a reward that is larger than the qualifying purchase - always try and trade them UP to the next level with the free one rather than just giving them the same for free, or try to add something to it. That way, they feel more rewarded and you might just introduce them to something they hadn't tried before. 
2. Name your loyalty card something that makes the bearer feel special or privileged, not just loyal. (even my dog is loyal). So use words like VIP or Elite or Club or a word that gives a sense of belonging to something. Maybe even have a scale of membership that relates to their level of spend - silver, gold, platinum, etc.
3. Make the reward fit the spend and take care to cost out your offer thoroughly. You could start with a "limited" offer - this is attractive in two ways as it makes people want to be first or in time to get it and it also gives you the chance to retract or change it if it becomes a victim of its own success.
4. Always make sure that when the time to redeem the reward comes you get a follow up opportunity out of it. So, I complete my full card after a requisite number of treatments in a salon and then get a free or half price one, then what? I get to walk away? No, I get another card or a better one next time and I have to hand my completed one in with some detail filled in - maybe my contact info or a vote for a favourite product.
5. Use the data or feedback that you capture from your loyalty cards to keep your news offers relevant and attractive. Tell people when they take a card that you have other offers so they might want to check out your website or sign up for a newsletter or take our brochure or follow us on Facebook, whichever works for you.
6. Always look for an extra opportunity to engage. It takes only a few seconds more at the till for someone to get the card stamped but you can take that time to chat with them, ask them a question or suggest something else they might like to try. It is all part of building a rapport with your customers - when people show an interest in us we usually respond positively.
7. Leave loyalty cards out where people can pick them up easily or read about it, maybe while they wait to be served. If you offer rewards make sure it is advertised up front, it could help someone decide whether to come into your shop instead of the one next door.
8. Loyalty cards are not just for retailers either, companies that offer services can have loyalty schemes too. If you have a disposable product that has to be purchased regularly then you could insert a coupon to collect into the pack or print it on the packaging. You might offer gift vouchers or money off product/services to regular customers and create a loyalty club where they can access certain extra benefits. Or just use your packaging or receipt to include a token to be collected that can be redeemed once a certain number have been saved.

Above all loyalty is a two-way street. You need to be happy to give a little of your profit away in order to ensure that people keep on coming back to you. The client is happy to return because they feel valued and get something out of the experience. As long as you don't leave it open to abuse (so you end up out of pocket) or make the reward too hard to achieve (so the customer gets bored) then everyone is a winner.

You can use all kinds of subtle ways to train your customers behaviour and affect buying patterns in a way that profits you in the long run, just make sure you are encouraging the sort of loyalty that you want, not just giving things away for the sake of it.

Ideally it needs to be something you can maintain long term too so that withdrawing it does not have any negative affects. Let's face it, my dog is loyal but I know it is only because I keep on giving him treats!

There really are too many ideas for one little blog so if you want to talk to me about how rewards and incentives could boost your business just call 0116 255 4336 or email claire@fullsquare.net

Getting the most out of your WiRE Membership

One of the many reasons that women in business like WiRE as a network group is that it is such great value. For only £50 per year subscription you get an online profile that will probably rank higher than even your own website or LinkedIn page. This is because the main focus of the WiRE head office team is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and, as a national network that is often asked to contribute to government debates on issues affecting women in rural enterprise, the WiRE website ranks very highly. You can also connect from the website with WiRE ambassadors and business leaders who provide mentoring and specialist training. 

Did you know that you can network anywhere in the UK with WiRE? No geographical boundaries, no "locking out" of competitors (which has to be one of the things I dislike most about a lot of networking groups - sorry, personal rant). This means that you can join in with any group in any region and be assured of a warm welcome. Most regions have their own Facebook or other groups that you can join in the conversation with and share ideas. Being a member of WiRE is a great door-opener too and gives you the opportunity to connect with a national network using the WiRE newsletter, online noticeboard or looking someone up via their marketplace profile.

In 2018 WiRE  have been asked to speak at The Farm Business Innovation Show at the NEC in November. They can also help with information about funding, tax issues and regularly feature in national press. Each year, at the HQ based at Harper Adams University in beautiful Shropshire, the WiRE team present a full day conference. As usual members receive a discounted rate and you do need to book early to make sure you get to join the other 300 or so women who will come along to make contacts, exhibit or speak - it is a very inspiring day. This year we are taking a party to the event - register your interest now.

On the main WiRE website you might also want to know how to share pictures and stories - a member asked the question and the amazing Fiona Davies came up with the answer so here it is:

Members can upload photos in three places when they login to http://www.wireuk.org/account 

1)      On their profile page – this is the page that appears on the rural marketplace, that everybody can see. You can add 2 photos (most people usually use a logo and profile pic) 

2)      On submitted news – this gets posted on the news page, in our newsletter and on social media (this is probably the best place for Charron to post stuff from the last meeting)

3)      On knowledgebase articles (these are sort of informative blogs rather than “I have a new book published”)

On all the places to upload a picture there is a browse box which gives access to their local computer (so the image will have to be previously saved) and they just click the one that they want. Max size for all images is less than 1 meg (999kb) 

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Monthly newsWiRE and meetings
Apart from the monthly meetings that take place in our own region of Leicestershire and Rutland, we also produce our own newsletter and invite members to take a FREE advert in our Classified section. This can be up to 20 words plus your contact details. No pictures please but you can send links to your website or specific pages online. Whether you have something for sale, want to advertise for staff or look for a particular supplier locally, this is a great place to do it as the newsletter goes out every month to over 400 women in our region. It is also another place to advertise any events you might be taking part in. 

Social media
We also have 2 Facebook groups for Leicestershire and Rutland area, one is closed and contains information exclusively for members. In 2018 our own press officer Megan Allen from Rural Roots PR & Journalism is going to share a list of local editors and other members regularly contribute information by sharing blogs and invites to events. We really encourage you to do this too. There is also a community group that is open to all. WiRE has a regular twitter hour (check @wireuk for details) and also have a strong presence on Facebook. Remember to connect on LinkedIn or get in touch after meetings to arrange one-to-one meetings with other members. The time we get to chat  at a meeting is never enough to really find out all about someone and what they do.

Making friends you can do business with
Once you start to get to know other ladies in the group, you will find we are very good at collaborating. Joining forces with other women in business who operate in the same field as you or have compatible products or services is a great way to share the cost of an event or pool resources in a joint enterprise. Successful examples of this in our area are a group that was created in Rutland for businesses in the wedding industry, a pop up shopping event featuring 4 WiRE members who are in the fashion business and a photo shoot for home interiors that brought together a photographer,  2 designers,  a printer (yours truly) and a home stylist. One of our members who is an artist is going to create an installation at a national conference next year being hosted by another member that she met at our group. We have also got a member who is looking to start a new group in North Leicestershire, inspired by our own meetings and as she is a boutique caterer, she is also going to collaborate with the vineyard where we have our May meeting planned.

Monthly meetings are a mixture of education and entertainment in our area and, in 2018, we have even more of our own members contributing to the content including personal branding, internet selling, marketing to grow your business and local PR to name just a few. We include a leisurely net-walking event for our August meeting and look forward to some creative workshops later in the year. We have an ambitious plan for the end of the year to hold our very own craft/shopping fair - there are only so many hours in the day of a volunteer group so please don't hold us to that one!!

For any information about becoming a member of WiRE, contributing to a news feature or meeting please contact me on claire@fullsquare.net

Merry Christmas 2017
Claire McFadden


 

 

Is it ever too early to mention Christmas?

Have you booked your Christmas party yet?

You may have a big bash or a quiet meal, a generous bonus or just enjoy a bit of time off, Christmas, for us though, is the one time of year we get to take a whole week off, so it is never too early for me to start thinking about it!

Even though we don't get to print the volume of cards, calendars and diaries that we used to that is not going to stop me from blatantly trying to drum up interest in promotional print at Christmas. There are so many promotional opportunities to be had in the run up. It is the best excuse, should you need one, to say 'thank you' to your clients, maybe even to send them a little gift. It is a great time to sell vouchers as presents for those 'got everything' types and run incentives to buy more for less. "BOGOF", "3 for the price of 2", "get the cheapest item free" - offers like these are so tempting when we have a big list of people to buy for and now is the time to kick-start your campaigns.

Christmas is also the time of year when we should remember to be charitable and raising funds for a local good cause is a wonderful way to raise the profile of your brand and do some good at the same time.

So before you say, 'no thanks' we don't send Christmas cards, print a calendar or dole out diaries anymore, think what a well-timed promotional campaign could do to drive your seasonal sales. 

For information on corporate Christmas cards, diaries and calendars call Claire on
0116 255 4336

 

Getting noticed on social media

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Social media can be a hugely exciting and effective way of promoting you, your brand or your business. We are certainly all attracted to this new wave of "FREE" advertising. However, it takes a great deal of time and patience to build a brand on social media, in fact anywhere online, as there is such a short amount of time to get your post noticed and a whole lot of 'noise' to compete with. Whatever your product or service offering, you will want to make sure that your followers know what your latest deals are, and where they can find you, so you need to be sure that your online content is consistent, highly visible and always recognisable. A lot of time can be spent on putting together images and trying to get the size and layout right for every kind of online shop window - time you possibly don't always have to spare?

Whether you are new to it or a frequent user of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram the chances are that a time-saving way to create your post content will sound appealing so we have teamed up with graphic designer Heather Parker to offer WiRE members a great design deal.

WHAT YOU GET

•    Eye-catching social media design package for your business or blog from just £75!
•    Consistent styling that makes you and your brand instantly recognisable
•    Peace of mind - rest assured that your images will be the correct size and format for:

•    Blog post (1600x2000px)
•    Mood Board (1600x2000px)
•    Pinterest (736x1104px)
•    Instagram Post (1080x1080px)
•    Instagram Quote (1080x1080px)
•    Facebook (1200x627px)
•    Twitter (1024x512)
Examples:

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ALL YOU NEED TO DO

•    Just supply your images and text and we'll send back web-ready image files.
•    Talk to us about planning a campaign with regular offers and features.
•    Remember we can also make your online digital content suitable for printing.
•    If you have Adobe Photoshop we can provide you with a fully editable PSD file.

AND DO REMEMBER - OTHER FORMS OF PROMOTIONAL MARKETING ARE AVAILABLE!

How to Win Best in Show

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“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”

(Aristotle 384 BC – 322 BC, Greek Philosopher)

Funny how some things never really change, isn't it?  Invariably, if your goal is to get the most out of your marketing budget and your objective is to make an impact on potential clients, then it is likely at some point you will be preparing for a major Trade Show or Exhibition.

Deciding where the budget goes is key, but so is having the right materials and getting the stand staff to behave! If you want to win Best In Show when you next exhibit then here are a few little tips:

  1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Look out to see if the market leaders are attending the show, their presence can be a good indicator of attendance levels. Ask previous exhibitors for their opinions of the show, their answers are likely to be more honest than the promoters. And ask the event organisers for last years attendance figures to look at the profile of visitors - are they the kind of people who will be able to make a decision to purchase your products or services? Finally, make sure you study the floor plan to make the most of your position in the Hall itself. Have someone plan out the space to accommodate all your stuff and your staff - but make sure you leave some room for visitors!

  2. BE LOUD AND CLEAR. Think about your reasons for exhibiting and decide what your core message is right at the outset so that your objectives are clear to staff and visitors alike. You might be looking to raise brand awareness, launch a new product, boost sales or just meet up with existing clients. Your stand design can help you to achieve these goals. Planning at this stage is vital if the communication with your customers is to be maximised. Remember you will only have a short time potentially with any visitor so resist the urge to be “all things to all men” by mixing messages and making it hard for the passing visitors to work out what you do - think Sniper not Blunderbuss! 

  3. MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. Exhibiting is an expensive business, no doubt about it. It is one of those things where you need to spend enough to get the positioning and message right but balance the cost against the return. The return on your investment is easier to quantify if you can calculate actual sales or sign-ups but a certain amount of 'flag-waving' to generate brand awareness can be the main reason for being there, and this is harder to evaluate. Your printer can help you out here. Take a look at the stand design in detail and see how much of the panelling or roller banners can be re-used with generic branding. Modular systems are great value as you can break down larger sets into stand alone units for smaller roadshows. Keep graphics that refer to specific dates or show offers to small "flash" panels or feature them on pre-show and your follow-up materials instead.

  4. STAND RULES, OK! It is not only your brand or your products on show at an exhibition, it is you and your staff too so have some clear rules concerning stand etiquette and dress code. Consider issuing a stand uniform if budget allows or at least try and get colour co-ordinated and wear a clear name badge. Make sure that someone has the responsibility of handing out literature or keeping the dispensers topped up. Keep the stock out of sight, ideally in a store room, until you need to use it. Engage with visitors as they pass by - you don't have to jump out and accost people but don't sit down and stare at your iPad or phone. In fact, ideally don't sit down at all unless it is at a meeting table with a client, it just makes you hard to approach. Don't eat and drink on your stand, even if you offer refreshments to clients (which is a nice thing to do and can keep them around). And if you do have to attend industry dinners or take clients out for drinks the night before make sure you don't have a hangover on the stand the next day. You will be up close and personal so make sure you are fresh and fragrant!

  5. MEANS TO AN END. As important as planning is and all that pre-show work you do to promote yourselves, having an end game is just as critical if you want to get the maximum ROI. Follow up all show leads as soon as possible - send the brochures you promised and make those follow up calls promptly. Without quick action momentum is lost and you could lose the sale. Conduct a thorough de-brief after the show to decide what went well and what could be improved next time. If you are lucky enough to pick up an industry award, make sure you promote it through all your communications channels.

This is just a really quick snapshot of my show know-how based on over 25 years experience so if you would like to discuss specific ways to attract and engage visitors, including getting them to seek YOU out then call me: Claire McFadden on 0116 255 4336. 

For arts sake

It is funny where your clients can take you - I've learned that over the years. No matter what business plans you make, you can be sure if you are in a service industry, that you will have to keep revisiting them and refining what you do to please your customers and cater particularly for their changing needs. I count myself lucky to work in a world full of creative and original people and it certainly keeps me on my toes!

Back in 2010, when we first ventured into producing large format prints, our ties with a local firm of architectural designers led us to produce wallpaper and canvas prints. We also worked with a graphic illustrator on a stand for Grand Designs featuring her quirky children's prints for a range of bespoke wall coverings. We still print wallpaper today and there are more textures and finishes to choose from than ever. Pattern is still a passion and I like nothing better than working with artists and creators of patterned designs.

In 2013, along with a dear friend of mine, we started to publish watercolours by local artist Andrew Geeson. Our little range was soon adopted by a number of stockists who fell in love with the English Country Garden images, painted in a romantic style to evoke a quiet time gone by. We still print these beautiful cards today and the range has grown to include wrapping paper and gift tags.

This led to a whole range of printed products being developed for artists and artisan designers and we now print for a variety of local artists and photographers who want to produce an income from their artworks. Products include prints for framing, wall posters, greeting cards and notebooks, bookmarks and postcards. 

In 2017 we began a collaboration with British Artisan Designer, Julie Dodsworth when we started to produce printed material to manufacture roller blinds. This led to us creating a colouring book and now we are working with a publisher to create a deal where artists and writers can see their work published.

Who knows where our customers will take us next - whoever they are and wherever it is, I am sure it will continue to be colourful and fun!

So if you are a budding artist or established artisan and would like to know how to turn your talent into an income, then you might consider creating your own cards or prints for sale or look at some of our other decorative print ideas. We'd love to help your business blossom!

 

Long live the British Staycation

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If you know me then you will know that I am a dedicated Anglophile - I especially love our countryside and the coastal regions all around Britain and was holidaying at home long before it became the fashion!

As such, we are always on the look out for great places to stay, ravishing places to eat and occasionally a drop of fine wine (just to aid a good nights sleep, you understand). You are never truly off duty when you work for yourself and so, it is no wonder, that we number a fair smattering of hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and visitor attractions among our clients.

So our website would not be the same without a page devoted to them - no apologies for pitching here - if you are a hotel owner, restauranteur or tourist destination in the UK, we would really love to talk to you about your offline promotion and business stationery - call me direct on 0116 255 4336 or email claire @ fullsquare.net to have a chat about it.

Happy holidays!

Claire's top tip: I really shouldn't share this with you as I hardly want anyone else to know about them but I'm too nice not to so here goes - If you like to staycation in style check out Wolsey Lodges for history and hospitality combined. 

 

Which material do we love most this week?

We've got it all covered (Mar 17)
I have to admit that the materials we can use on our HP Latex (wide format) printer have come on in leaps and bounds since we were early adopters in 2010. At that time the large format world was still dominated by solvent and water based printers and the special coating required to take the heat drying of environmentally friendly latex inks were only available on a smallish (and expensive) range of materials supplied by HP. We loved the PVC-free wallpaper, smart canvas and poster and self-adhesives but now we have a range of around a dozen wall covering options and now double sided block out roller blind fabric. With laminates for floors, removable adhesives for walls and now window dressings, we really have got it all covered!

We like Textile (Jan 2017)
Another great product from our friends at Kernow Coatings (Cornwall), Textlite is a white opaque, non-woven fabric that is lightweight & foldable, water resistant and can be sewn in order to guarantee high breaking strength - perfect for running bibs so we have already started to share this idea with local running clubs and charities as a great way to offer a personalised bib to every competitor but also as a follow-on piece of marketing. That's all for this post as I plan to write another about this particular application once we have come up with our design to promote it - watch this space ...

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
We've been trialling a new product by Kernow called Metallik with sparkling results - the high mirror foil finish has been created to suit dry toner inks and behaves beautifully on our Konica Minolta C1070 press. So far we have produced a calendar, perfume bottle wrap and some very snazzy playing cards. I really like this for book jackets but only available in SRA3 at the moment so size may dictate the number of applications for the product.

Christmas 2016
As well as the usual run of Christmas cards, this year we have been adding a foil laminate - copper in particular on a stunning hand-drawn design by a local illustrator. The effect works particularly well on DCP, Claro Silk (our stock matt paper and board from Antalis) and when added to soft touch laminates - super smooth surfaces work best. We have offered this to local agencies who seem to really like the idea - let's hope they have plenty of imagination in 2017!

Not exactly paper (Sept 2016)
Our large format collection now includes a 'paper' that is actually synthetic - not our usual line of country but it is perfect for our English weather for making posters outdoors. It is a polypropylene material designed to work on our Latex large format printer. The main benefits are that it is tear resistant and waterproof. It is also available in a self adhesive so we used it to mount on foamex for a charity walk as temporary signage (and it poured with rain so we got it tested, literally in the field!)

Hot stuff (July 2016)
This week we have mainly been printing roller banners for a global scientific client. They have ordered sets of graphics for their European sales force to use at presentations so they wanted a premium banner. We use a product from Papergraphics called TexRol as we love the way it stays flat and does not need to be laminated. 

It comes in 2 weights that work a treat on our HP latex printer and the colour and consistency is excellent. We printed 2 sizes: adjustable height Orient banners at 800mm wide and diddy little A3 tabletop versions for when space is limited. The only downside is that the latex printer uses heat to cure the ink so having so many to do on the hottest week in August tested our love for large format. However, ice cream indulgences kept us all in good spirits and we made it to the bank holiday.

For large format samples or information on posters and banners contact Adam or Claire on 0116 255 4336,

Can you spot the Pantone reference?

Happily for us, at Full Square, we get to work with a lot of creative geniuses and clever graphic designers, who know all about colour. However, there are some common pitfalls and basic misunderstandings about the use of colour in print that can lead to confusion. Here are a few basics you need to know:

SPOT COLOURS (The Pantone ® Matching System)

Remember as a child you mixed blue and yellow paint to make green? This is simply how spot or solid colours are acheived. Pantone developed a system of unique mixing formulas creating a vast gamut of colours. Spot colours are commonly used in logos and corporate identities where clear definition is desired. There is also a system to create a CMYK version of your spot colour but beware, there is not a direct correlation and digital (CMYK) material may look very different to a single spot colour litho print!

CMYK (also sometimes referred to as 4 colour process)

In digital (and litho) printing a colour image is reproduced with a file separated into 4 different colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K). Each screen comprises tiny dots that combine to create the image - they are visible with a magnifying glass but not with the naked eye. In fact, the process tricks the eye into seeing the image with the illusion of continuous tone. To create the best effect CMYK is printed onto white material (remember white is not one of the colours we print) so, if you want to print a process image onto a coloured or translucent stock, be aware that you might need to add a white mask behind it (to complete the illusion) or accept an alteration in the colour of your design. Coated and uncoated papers will also produce a different result as the latter is more porous and gives a flatter image. 

RGB (red, green and blue colour scheme measured in pixels not dots)

This is the colour scheme associated with electronic displays like our computer monitors, cameras and scanners. Your digital monitor is made up of tiny light units called pixels, one for each colour, that create a vivid and vibrant image. RGB images can be converted to CMYK for printing purposes and a close match can be acheived but be careful that what you approve for print is set in the right format. Also be aware that what you see on your website, or logos you use online, may not match that in a printed publication.

For advice on digital or litho printing just ask claire@fullsquare.net

 

How and why to add bleed

When you create a document where the image goes right to the edge of a sheet of paper you need to add bleed. This is because we print on an over-sized sheet and trim it out or sometimes multiple products are printed on much larger sheets and then cut down to size. It is not possible to cut exactly to the edge of your design so you need to add extra over print on each side and this overprint is called “bleed”. It is standard practice to add 3mm bleed.

You should also leave a safe zone of 3mm inside the document to make sure that your text is not too close to the trimmed edge. This is not the same as adding bleed. Remember that the 3mm bleed is OUTSIDE the page and is designed to be trimmed off so make sure your background is extended to fill the bleed area, not just enlarged or you may still end up with some of your image missing. Don’t forget to allow an extra margin on the left hand side of each page if your document is being bound.

Step One (for InDesign or Illustrator)
Make sure when you create your document / artboard that you select the bleed option and include 3mm all around. 

Step Two
Create your design including the bleed area extending any backgrounds or images (use the preview mode to see how your document looks when the bleed is trimmed)

Step Three
Save your design before exporting as a PDF. (Note at this point that your document should contain all links before you export to PDF. If you export when links are missing your images will not be at the optimum resolution when printed).

Step Four
Choose the “press quality” option in the save window and make sure that crop marks and bleeds are checked, along with the box that says “use document bleed settings - see image below

N.B. If you design in Photoshop you will need to increase the canvas size by 3mm all round to allow for bleed, there is no option to include it so this makes an allowance.

Save your Photoshop file as a PDF and don’t worry there won’t be crop marks but we can allow for this when we process the file for print. 

 

And finally...

Please only supply PDFs for print, we cannot accept jpegs, powerpoint or word documents.

Please supply zines and books as single pages not spreads unless we tell you otherwise as we will create our own imposition of your file for print.

And if you get stuck, don't worry, just give us a call on 0116 255 4336.

Let's Make 2017 COLOURFUL

In 2016 we've expanded our digital printshop to really focus on full colour printing for the future.

We increased our digital capacity two-fold and that has made it possible for us to dedicate one press to special sizes, variable data and interesting finishes - like foiling, clear varnish and metallic  paper prints. We can print up to 1000mm long x 320mm wide to give you lots of possibilities for packaging and promotional prints.

We should also mention that we have upscaled our litho offering to B2 so that we can offer things like A4 Landscape and 6pp A4 to meet demand as well as greater economies of scale.

Then we updated our HP Latex large format printer to a wider (64") machine with the very latest odourless ink technology and more substrates, including fabrics. We tidied up the workshop too with a new cutting table for our large format laminator. We added anti-graffiti and floor laminates to our standard range of gloss, matt and crystal.

Earlier in the year we added in-house lamination to our small format digital - gloss, matt and best-selling soft touch so now we really have it all covered!

If you would like to come and see us, please do, we love to show people what we can do and in 2017 we hope it is all going to be even more colourful!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

*Size Matters

This little snippet is one of those things that all printers know about and some designers think about but we don't always remember to mention to you.

Did you know that when your business cards or letterheads or flyers are printed that the size of the finished article can greatly affect the cost of your job? That sounds like common sense right - if you order something bigger it will cost more than something half the size? Yes, it will, but what I am really talking about here is "yield" and that means how many of a given size you can get out of the flat sheet of paper or board.

Here's the maths part:
(sorry, I always preferred poetry to be honest)

SRA3 print sheet size is 450mm x 320mm. A common letterhead size is A4 which measures 297mm x 210mm. So, with bleed and tick marks (so we can trim it out properly) you can get 2 out of a print sheet. This means if you'd ordered 250 we only need to print 125 sheets. 

Quick reference for yield:
A4 - 2 out
A5 - 4 out
A6 - 8 out
DL - 6 out
Business card - usually 16 out (depends on size and finishing).

So if you are cute, you can save some costs by planning your print sheet. Our photo example is a letterhead with compliment slips with the 'spare' paper used to print A5 sheets that we glue into a handy note-pad. (So this could also be twice as many A6 pads - still with me?) OR a little flyer, a data-capture or other business form up to A5 size.  OR  you might use one DL space for your comp slip and make the other two spots into DL vouchers that you post out with your invoices.

If it is all too confusing (or if it you also preferred English Lit to Maths at school) then just give me a call. It can actually save you money and generate new ways to promote your business if you THINK BEFORE YOU PRINT.

And don't let anyone tell you that size doesn't matter - when it comes to printing, it does!

Claire McFadden - 0116 255 4336

P.S. We can actually print two 6' x 2' banners side by side and the square meterage we use of material is the same so you could actually do 2 for the price of 1 - it's always worth a phone call to see if we can help you get more value for money.

 

The Power of Eight - 8 little tips

The number 8 symbolises power, infinity and continuance which makes it the perfect number to associate with your next promotion.

To help harness the power of 8 in your business, we have a great offer available for you.

The standard print sheet size SRA3 just happens to yield 8 A6 postcards and you can buy 800 cards (100 run of up to 8 different designs) for just £80*

Not sure how to use them -  here are 8 ideas for FREE

  1. Plan ahead with a mailing to 100 target accounts each month for 8 months - for just 10p per card. 
  2. The card is printed on both sides so you can make whatever combination of message and a response or an image with an offer, or just contact details on reverse.
  3. If you have multiple products or services why not print a card to promote each? 8 products or 4 service levels (2 each) - so many combinations to suit you.
  4. Postcards are a great way to capture data - ask your potential customers to fill them in at an event or to win a prize.
  5. Or you could use them as vouchers with up to 8 different denominations (and still capture data from whoever cashes it in).
  6. Consider folding your cards to A7 size, making a 4 page design possible - ideal for appointment cards for example.
  7. A6 postcards fit into a standard C6 envelope so they are perfect for invitations or RSVP cards too - we can add personalisation or foiling (at extra cost).
  8. Turn your business card into a promotional offer to take to up to 8 networking meetings - then hand out a different little tip each time.

For advice on planning your print cost-effectively just ask claire@fullsquare.net

 

*offer based on 395mic postcard board, printed full colour on both sides, plus carriage and VAT.

Have you got time for a reprint? Thought not, read on ...

 

Spell, check, use spell-check and then check again ...

It pays to get a professional proof-reader to examine your copy for typographical and grammatical errors, especially when you are sending your copy to print. However, it is as important to make sure that your emails, blog posts and social media comments are gaff-free too and that might mean you have to check it yourself. So here are a few simple ways that you can eliminate some common errors:

  • Use an English dictionary to check spellings and turn on the automatic spell-check in English for your email, word processing and other programmes.
  • Read through your copy after you have written it, slowly. Check for words that you know might be wrong - as in our picture example, to “bare with me” is actually an invitation to undress, whereas to “bear with me” asks for patience. Their, there and they’re are easy to mistype (just like to, two and too)!
  • By reading each word slowly we can read what is there, not what our brain tells us is meant. So read through twice at least, once for spelling and again for ‘sense’.
  • If you read copy backwards you can see typos that otherwise get lost because your mind knows what word to put next - we could see ‘what it if went wrong’ as easily as ‘what if it went wrong’ - and then it could all go wrong!
  • Remember that digital spell checkers will only check if a word is spelled correctly. It will not tell you if it is in the right place or if there should be a comma after it. Checking punctuation is a whole new subject but the most commonly seen grammatical error is the misuse of the apostrophe. Rosie’s apples are fruit that belong to Rosie but she would not advertise that she had “apple’s for sale”.
  • Beware when you copy and paste text or cut/insert words that you do not remove something you shouldn’t, especially little details like a space between words. Remember that edited text could contain a different font, font size or weight so after spelling, punctuation and sense you should also check for consistency.

For helpful advice in preparing your files for print just ask claire@fullsquare.net

 

 

Exploring sales promotion - the art of persuasion

Marketing clever-bods will tell you all about the triangular shaped AIDA model that you can employ to attract new clients and get them to buy from you. There are four stages as you might expect, in brief they are:

AWARENESS - where all your advertising and brand-building goes to get your name out there and make it known.

INTEREST - the point narrows a bit now as not everyone you show your advert to will be interested, will have seen or understood it.

DESIRE - but once you have them interested you just have to convert that interest into a real willingness to respond to your messages or a desire to own your product.

ACTION - the vital bit, the customer actually takes positive action and BUYS!

The first stage is cognitive and the final stage is classed as behavioural but it is the emotional stages in between that are where it gets interesting (well, for a printer anyway!)

Sales promotion is at the heart of this model, it is the key transitional stage where you get to turn that flickering flame of interest into a raging fire of desire (or at least warm people up a bit). For sales promotion is all about persuasion, not selling. Ironically, it is often the stage where you actually GIVE something away in order to tempt your potential customer to buy more or at least give you a try.

This is where you can employ simple little flame-fanners like SAMPLES or PRODUCT VOUCHERS or INCENTIVES to buy.  

So ask yourselves, if you have a list of interested parties (prospects or maybe your existing client base) can you persuade them to take ACTION if you offer them a taster first? Is there a voucher you can offer towards a bigger purchase? Can you package your product in a 'trial-size' way? If you do, don't forget with your sample or your voucher make sure you use the printed space to offer something more or invite them to take action again.

There are lots of ways that you can use printed cards and product carriers to create DESIRE amongst your brand fans - just trust in me for ideas and inspiration!

Contact Claire on 0116 255 4336 or claire@fullsquare.net

 

 

FREE paper samples - how to get yours...

One of the most common questions we ask here (apart from 'have you got the kettle on?') is "what weight of paper do you want that on?" Some of our clients find it hard to know the difference between paper stocks, what weight they are and if they are coated or uncoated, gloss or matt. There is no shame in that, there are literally thousands of different kinds of paper out there to choose from. Unless you have a micrometer in your hand or are very clever indeed, you will probably not be able to tell what gsm your letterhead is on or what micron your box board is. 

So, to make a little order out of all the chaos, we have assembled a swatch of our standard paper and board weights and called it our Print Guide. We would love you to have a FREE copy so please email claire@fullsquare.net or call us on 0116 255 4336 and simply ask for one! We are also happy to provide samples of all the large format materials we can print on if you want bigger stuff for exhibitions or displays.

We also hand out sweets with orders, vouchers for referrals and cups of tea to all our visitors - some people call this bribery, we prefer to think of it as an incentive!

Fancy foil printing and other shiny options

This week we have been trialling some exciting new board with a metallic foil finish, suitable, at last, for dry toner printing. The product is still being developed but our initial tests showed a really high colour finish on mirror-like board. Perfect for cosmetic packaging or high quality gift boxes but restricted to SRA3 size so be careful what you design for us to print!

We think that it will be of serious interest to the greeting card industry for short-run, high value digital printing but the special finish is proving difficult to crease. The manufacturer is working on a solution to this right now so watch this space!

In the meantime, don't forget, we can digitally foil your design in silver, gold or copper to add maximum WOW to your corporate stationery, point of sale headers and swing tickets or invitations and certificates.

Call Claire on 0116 255 4336 for more information.