How to Make Whatever You Print Look Sharp, Get Noticed and Read
Getting high quality printing takes more than finding a good printer. You have to know the rules of the game or the results will be less then professional. Regardless if you're using the corner drugstore's copy machine to run off a few copies on the spot, or paying big bucks to a printer in a distant city for a full blown catalog, everything starts with the material provided. The camera truly sees everything, so be careful to always provide crisp, uncontaminated originals or you will be disappointed with the results.
Tips to Produce Good Originals
If you want quality printing, always submit your material on a good grade of white paper, regardless of what final color your material is to be printed on.
Whenever possible, have your printer work from an original document. If that's not possible it should be nothing more than a first generation copy. Anything else will give poor results
If you're using a computer, final output should be printed on a Laser printer with a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch. 600 DPI, or 800 DPl is noticeably better. In a pinch, Ink Jet printers produce reasonably good output, but stay away from any dot matrix printers that produce ragged text and terrible graphics that will only be magnified when reproduced by your printer or copy machine.
To stand out from the crowd, consider having your masters printed on a ultra-high resolution printer found at many service bureaus in major cities. Typical resolutions start at 1,200 DPI. This is especially important if you employ graphics, photographs, or complex shading patterns. The cost is around fifteen dollars a page.
If you're still using a typewriter, be sure it's an electric model equipped with a high quality carbon ribbon.
Never try and erase from the original. No matter how careful you are, the printer's camera can pick up the deterioration in the paper, make the blemish more noticeable and highlight the very error you're trying to hide.
The same applies to typewriter ribbons that "type over mistakes," the camera will pick it up.
If you must "correct" and are unwilling to redo your work, use a very small amount of one of the many liquid correction fluids. Be sure to match the color of the correction fluid to the paper and let it dry thoroughly.
Avoid using paper clips or folding. Each will put creases in the paper. No staples either, which leave tiny holes that will reproduce as black dots. No masking or cellophane tape which also leave tell-tale marks.
Never use a pencil or marking pens. Neither reproduce evenly or provide enough contrast. Signatures should be made in black ink, being sure you apply steady pressure throughout.
If you want to have a photograph reproduced you need to have it "screened" first. While most quick-print shop can provide this service, you probably can have it done cheaper at your local newspaper office.
Which is Best, Photocopying or Offset Printing?
Finding the "right" printer depends on the job you're having done. Most Quick Print Shops found in the major metropolitan areas do reasonably good work but are usually expensive. The main advantage is speed. If you have to have something right away expect to pay a premium price. If you can wait an average of a week to ten days you can find many mail order printers that do very good work at a fraction of the price of your neighborhood printer charges. Like anything else it pays to shop around. Prices and quality of work varies considerably.
One alternative to offset printing is high quality photocopying. Several national franchises and many retail chain provide excellent work. The key is what type of equipment is available. The typical "pay as you copy" machines that you must feed an endless supply of coins are not suited to running more than a few copies at a time. To get quality and reasonable price I'm talking about expensive full size machines that can copy a two-sided document in one pass anywhere from 50 to 200 copies per minute. If well maintained, the output is excellent and hard to distinguish from offset printing. Your cost should be in the area of four to eight cents a page, which can be a bargain if your need around a hundred copies or so.
If you need more than a few hundred copies, offset printing is cheaper especially in higher quantities. The best way to save is plan ahead. The printer's biggest cost isn't paper or ink which they buy truck loads of at a time, it's labor expense creating, lugging and setting-up the plates in the printing press. So don't have a thousand circulars printed up and come back a month later to repeat the process. You can almost always get a much better price by ordering a six month or greater supply and have them printed all at once.
Paper and Ink
Color paper is far cheaper then colored ink for the same labor intensive reasons, and works just as well at getting attention. Good choices for sales letters and proposals are off-white, buff and cream. Letterheads look best on a heavy paper. Black ink on a soft yellow or medium pink are very effective choices for circulars and price lists. Lighter shades green, gray and lilac also work well for most sales materials.
Harsh color combinations like black ink on red paper should be restricted to large type of a few words only, due to being very hard on the reader's eyes. Reverses (white type set on large black backgrounds) should be limited to small sections like headlines or an attention getting box for the same reason.
Some advertisers have had good success with the newer fluorescent colored papers. While very harsh, they're also bright which gives the necessary contrast to make them work. Because any material printed on this type of paper can overpowering, keep your wording to a minimum and stay away from small text.
Additional Tips to Make Your Work Stand Out
No matter how good the final product, its of no value if it doesn't get read. Chose your words carefully. Eliminate worn-out over used words and phrases that serve no purpose. Make every word count. Graphics and any art work should tie-in and complement the words - never detract or confuse.
The importance of white space can not be over emphasized. Never try and squeeze your work into too small an area. While half-inch margins should be considered a minimum for an 8-1/2 x 11 paper, three-quarter to one inch margins generally look better. Be sure to break-up long blocks of text with Sub Heads. Not only do they make whatever you wrote easier to read, it adds visual impact as well.
If you're using a computer don't be tempted to use every font you have in your library. It comes across unprofessional and has the net effect of actually making your work look sloppy and amateurish. For any document you should have no more then three fonts. One for any headline, one for sub-heads and another for the body. Instead of changing fonts, add interest by using either bold or italics You can also make your work look better by varying the size of paragraphs, and indenting or changing the justification on certain key sections. Bullets, borders, and shading in moderation also go a long way to making what ever your writing look better The better your work looks, the more likely it will be read!
If you've been in mail order for more than a month...chances are you've been ripped off by one or more ad sheet printers. This report won't make you a mail-order genius but might keep you from loosing your shirt prematurely.
When you have accumulated sufficient knowledge from preparing your own circulars and from co-publishing magazines and ad sheets of others, you may want to become a publisher.
There have been entire volumes written on mail order selling. For printed information, the best way to learn HOW & WHERE to advertise is to go to your newsstand and check through all the magazines carrying large numbers of classified and space ads.
Have you placed your display ad in a national magazine with over 20 million readers, then waited for the orders to pour in? But the days go by and there is little or no responses?
Regardless of what you're trying to sell, you really can't sell it without "talking" with your prospective buyer. An in attempting to sell anything by mail, the sales letter you send out is when and how you talk to your prospect.
The opportunities for getting free advertising for your product or services are limited only by your own imagination and energies.
What is a Big Mail? If you are a total beginner to the mail order world, you will have no idea what the term means. Before I knew better, I used to think a Big Mail was just a big envelope containing some type of free samples.
This method of getting free printing is currently being used by several different mail dealers. It works! Here's the plan: Run an ad similar to this in any mail order magazine:
Here are some interesting results of a study conducted on readerships of magazine ads. Most of the stats are from Starch INRA Hopper, Inc and other studies.
Most business beginners think Direct Mail means purchasing a mailing list and mailing an advertising flyer to a bunch of folks they know absolutely nothing about. This IS NOT what Direct Mail marketing is.