10 Steps to Prepress

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Preparing art for full-color printing is now easier than ever.  But there are some useful steps you’ll need to take to avoid speed bumps later.

Digital Press from HeidelbergWhat is prepress?  It’s the process of converting a layout or design into a format that is ready for a printing press.

Before Adobe’s Photoshop came along, prepress work took a team of specialists, a full day of effort, lots of film, tricky color separations and a hefty budget.  Now it takes a few minutes with a digital file.

So we’ve made a list for the more daring of you who are interested in creating a press-ready art file yourself, rather than having someone else (like us) do it.  Now, these steps work for us and our postcard magnet mailers; but if you use another printer, you should check with them first.  Also, this guide is for those already familiar with professional grade programs like Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

Just know that if all this is more than you can do, or want to do, that’s fine.  Just tell us what you have, and what you’d like.  We’ll help make it happen.

For the adventurous, here are your 10 steps:

1.  Start with great art.  Check out our post about Good Photography.

2.  Use professional grade programs like Photoshop (for images) and Illustrator (for type, designs and layout).  Stay clear of home publishing software like Publisher or Word.

3.  Save a new copy of your working file as you proceed through each of the following steps, so you can return to a step if something goes wrong later.  Save the Photoshop (image) files as TIFF or PSD format.  Save the Illustrator (layout) files as EPS or PDF.

CMYK monitor vs paper4.  Set up the color mode for your image and layout files as CMYK (rather than RGB).  Our printing press is a CMYK press;  it uses four inks: Cyan blue, Magenta red, Yellow and blacK to achieve the effect of full-spectrum color.  If you send art files that are set up as RGB, you might be surprised by the results.

5.  Set your image size. In Photoshop: 1) be sure you’re working with image resolution that is 350 dots per inch (DPI) (or at least a minimum 300 DPI) and 2) size the image to be exactly what you’d like on the printed piece.  Be sure to allow some extra image area if you’d like the image to print (‘bleed’) off the edge of the card — we’ll print on bigger paper and trim the page to the correct size.

6.  Prepare a layout for your postcard and magnet, made to the exact size of the final item.  This is best done in a layout program like Illustrator (set to CMYK). You can set your type and position any designs exactly where you’d like them.  Colors can be chosen from the CMYK color palette.  Keep in mind that colors on your screen usually become deeper (darker) when they print as ink on paper.  When colors are printed, and then laminated, they appear deeper still.  Avoid small, light text on dark backgrounds, since the text could fill in.

AI link menu to embed image7.  You can position your Photoshop images on your Illustrator layout.  But to really attach the Photoshop image to the Illustrator file you’ll need to 1)  use the Place command (File -> Place) when you first collect the Photoshop image for Illustrator and 2) then, with the image on the layout, and selected,  use the Embed command (from the Links menu, select ‘Embed Image’).  Otherwise, the image file will not be a part of the Illustrator file and you’ll need to send us the image file separately.

8.  For black graphics and text, you can set the CMYK value to 70%-70%-20%-100%.  This will result in a look that is richer than simple black ink.

9.  In Illustrator, convert any typesetting in your layout to vector outlines.

10.  If you want us to print right to the edge of the card, provide us with graphics that are 1/4″ wider so we can print (with a bleed) and trim.

There is a lot here, and even an experienced designer can run into a snag.  So don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need help creating your files.

The end result — seeing your magnet mailer at work, making the phone ring — makes it all worth it.

 

Always here to help you make a great postcard magnet campaign:
magnetbyMail.com

 

March 31, 2011 · Posted in Design  
    

Advertising to Gen-Y

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Ask most marketers how they reach the Generation Y audience and they’ll tell you it’s challenging.

cs-1-6-postcard magnetsGen Y, that demographic group born roughly between the mid-1970′s and early 2000′s, doesn’t use lots of the traditional media (newspapers, network tv, magazines).   So for marketers trying to reach the group, the media choices are the social networks like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.  And unless a marketer can create a buzz that goes viral, he or she is not going to reach an audience at all.

So now it’s come this: when marketers think about going ‘outside the box’, they now mean ‘outside the Internet.’   The ultimate web-based marketers are finding new solutions using ‘traditional’ media,  like  magnet mailers.  Here’s how:

The cyber game world is a billion dollar industry featuring multi-player Internet games where the other players – one’s teammates and opponents – could be on the other side of the planet.  Games like  Starcraft or Counter Strike Source are run from independent network server companies, offering high-tech computer power that needs to be fast and affordable for their Gen Y customers.

But marketing a game server company isn’t easy.  Competition is global and its fierce.  Email marketing has become ineffective and even viral marketing strategies seem to return diminishing results.

We provided the solution in the form of our Basic magnet mailer – it’s a large, full-color laminated postcard carrier, and a custom printed magnet attached. With a good mailing list, and a postcard / magnet combo designed to promote a web address, we helped a US-based game server pinpoint its Gen Y target and deliver a message that could stick around.

The end result: a 20% increase in ‘guest’ traffic at the website and five new accounts for every 100 magnet mailers sent.

Which all goes to show that, even in the tough Gen Y marketplace, if you can get in front of your prospect, you can still win.

magnetbyMail:  helping make sure your message stays in front

March 29, 2011 · Posted in Marketing  
    

Breaking News from PRWEBWell, as if you didn’t know, our mother website for postcard magnets is magnetbyMail.com .

And, ta-dah!, we finally announced our website officially.

I’m sure this will mean that the phone lines will light up with calls from all sorts of news media.  And we’ll be giving interviews for weeks.  Isn’t that how it works?

Well, if you’ve been through this process yourself, you know that it actually rarely works that way.

Years back, when I was at a start-up sales promotions firm, we did get lucky with one of those ‘business announcements’ in the local paper.  An ad agency called looking for some ideas and, before you knew it, we were promoting Big East basketball.

But alas, marketing types like myself can’t be waiting for the inevitable lucky break.

So we’re planning a mailing — sending postcard magnet mailers to our active list of key decision makers.  The idea is to drive folks to our website.

This way, we can practice what we preach.

And  if the NBA calls because they saw our press release,  that would be good, also.

 

Oh, and if you’d also like to receive a sample mailer for yourself, just drop us a note from our Contact Us page and we’ll make it happen.

 

Always looking out for our fans….   magnetbyMail.com

 

March 18, 2011 · Posted in Marketing  
    

Mail Smarter

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If you like being able to track the packages you ship through companies like FedEx(R) or UPS(R), you’ll like hearing about this new service from the US Postal Service…

USPS IMB Intelligent Mail barcode

Example of IM barcode (courtesy Wikimedia)

The USPS IM barcode is an Intelligent Mail barcode that can provide you tracking details of the mail you send.  Similar to the barcode already used on most US mail, the USPS IM barcode is 65 vertical bars that encodes 31 digits of data for USPS scanners.

Based on the 31 digits, the USPS will be able to know: the type of service for the item (1st class, 3rd class, etc), the identity of the sender, a sequence number and the Zip Code of the delivery point.

The sequence number is what’s really interesting.  This is assigned to the sender;  it identifies the mailing piece from the thousands the sender might be mailing.

So now a mailer will be able to know when (and if)  their mailing piece made it to the doorstep.  Before, it was a matter of faith.

Also, by confirming delivery, mailers will be able to update their mailing lists for future mailings.

And marketers will have end-to-end tracking of their campaigns, just like they do with email campaigns!  It’s nirvana for those using analytics.

The new Intelligent Mail service will start this May.  Mailers will need to use the IM barcode to qualify for automation prices.

Postcard magnets mailed by magnetbyMail will be processed using the new Intelligent Mail service, at no additional charge.

The fine line between the Internet and old-fashioned marketing just disappeared.

From your friends at magnetbyMail .

 

 

March 13, 2011 · Posted in Marketing  
    

Cause and Effect

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From saving organic farming  to saving Haiti, there are thousands of good causes, each one with a message.  Each cause competes for our attention.  And each competes with the thousands of other messages that crisscross  in front of us every single day.

campaign promotionsAdding the Internet to the mix hasn’t helped.  In fact, it’s only increased the volume of message traffic.

And for any cause, being able to convey a message to a targeted audience can be critical.  It can be the difference between fulfilling a mission, or disappearing.

Luckily, there’s a solution: custom imprinted postcard magnets.  OK, so we’re biased; but listen to this recent example:

A community organization needs to rally county support for a major change in zoning.   Within three weeks the group needs to convince residents that changes are something that need to be approved.

The group decides to have magnetbyMail print and mail Venti postcard magnets – jumbo postcards and square refrigerator magnets — to every voter in the county.

Within days of the mailing, hundreds of hits come through the group’s website.  The previously-hard-to-get newspaper and tv news reporters appears  for interviews.  And the night of the zoning meeting, there is an unusual sight: full attendance.

The zoning changes are approved by a wide margin, and the organization makes lots of new friends for future projects.

And in many of the area’s homes, the magnets are still in use many months later.

There’s little else that works quite like a postcard magnet mailer.  The postcard is the carrier, the magnet is the billboard.  The combination is quite effective, and very affordable.

Have an important message to convey? Check us out at magnetbyMail.

March 8, 2011 · Posted in Marketing  
    

Direct Mail Since Net

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It was as if Direct Mail advertising was hit by a bus a few years ago, when the Internet came to town.  Advertisers took off, thinking they could save a boatload by simply building a website, recalling the adage “build it and they will come…”

Our own Clarke Stevens looks into what happened to Direct Mail since that time in his recent article at Hubpages.com: Aspiring Media Could Impact Marketing Strategy .

Its worth a look…

March 7, 2011 · Posted in Marketing  
    

USPS Requirements

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Yes, the US Post Office can deliver our magnet mailer through their system without a problem.   The magnet stays securely attached to the postcard based on our spot glue process.

US Postal ServiceThe USPS processes our custom printed postcard magnets as machinable, non-automated mail.  Among other things, this means if you’d like to have your magnet mailers sent via first class, the postage rate would be based on the 1 oz. letter rate (not the the postcard rate), plus a charge for special handling (currently $.20ea).

The USPS offers discounted rates for properly prepared bulk mail. Based on these current rates, here are our current postage prices, if you’d like us to do the mailing [updated 1/27/2013] (subject to change without notice):

US Postage rates
  • Third (Standard) class bulk mail: $0.29 ea
  • First class presort mail: $0.44 ea
  • Non-profit bulk mail: $0.21 ea
  • Rate based on machinable, non-automated item
  • We can use your Postal permit; or our permit

If we will be mailing your items, please complete and fax to us a Bulk Mail Form and USPS NCOA Processing Acknowledgement Form — both forms are in the Templates file found on the webpage for each item on our magnetbyMail website. You can choose to use our indicia on the mailing piece (and pay us postage cost), or use your indicia, if it is the type that can be used at any US Post Office (not all are). If using our Indicia, prepare your art layout leaving the appropriate space for us to add the correct Indicia box and text. Note our Mailing List details (also on our website) when preparing your mailing list for us.

Of course, if you want us to ship all the postcard mailers to you, so you can distribute, we can do that, too.  In this case there would be shipping charge for UPS delivery.

Everything you ever wanted to know about mailing postcard magnets is on our website.

And you can always call us.  We’d love to hear from you!

March 6, 2011 · Posted in Design  
    

Good photography

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Photos.com Royalty-Free Photos by Subscription
If you’re going to invest money (, time and effort) in a postcard mailer campaign, you should make sure your layout and design looks its best.

If you need good photo images to help convey your message, you should look through .

At Photos.com, you’ll find stock photography that is all shapes and sizes.  At least one of the images is bound to be perfect for your project.

Oh, and prices are very reasonable, too.  There are plenty of great images available for under US$10.

Images at Photos.comImportant note: make sure you obtain high-resolution photos.  For print quality, its good to have images that are at least 200 Dots Per Inch (DPI) resolution.  Images intended for the web can have much less (72 DPI), so don’t download an image intended for a website.

Also, based on my own experience buying an image at Photos.com, I suggest you first, set yourself as a site user, then add the image(s) into your online ‘lightbox’, and then pay for them with your creditcard. Doing this in an other order can become frustrating.  At least that’s my experience.

I do recommend regardless of the abovementioned quirky checkout process.  Pricing seems to be better than iStockPhoto.com .

Just our 2 cents, from magnetbyMail.com

March 6, 2011 · Posted in Design, Resources  
    

Good News in the Mail

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Mail SlotThe Internet has had a huge impact on the US Post Office.  You probably aren’t surprised to hear that.

Instead of  catalogs, companies are focused on improving their websites.

Instead of mailing letters, people simply send an email.

And all that is good news for you if you’re marketing with Direct Mail:

First of all, your recipients are more likely to see your mail simply because the pile is much smaller.

And secondly, recipients are more likely to be favorable to Direct Mail ad mail, and even look forward to receiving it, because mail levels are now so low.

So next time you hear that people are mailing less and less, put on your marketing hat and smile.

Just a thought from magnetbyMail.com, home of custom imprinted postcard magnets.

March 6, 2011 · Posted in Marketing, Profitability  
    

Growing New Customers

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Magnet mailers for farmers marketA local association of local growers, dairies and craftsmen held a Farmers’ Market in the town’s center on Saturday mornings throughout the warm months.

They decided to advertise to community residents to remind everyone of the weekly event. With the help of a local Organic Farming Initiative, they received a grant for outreach funds.

They designed a Venti postcard magnet.  The postcard had plenty of details describing the Farmer’s Market and how it was making a difference for local farmers and local residents.

The postcard included a large magnet, with all the important details: when and where the Market is held.

The magnet mailers were sent to all residents in the area via bulk mail.

Within weeks, the market became ‘the place to be’ on a Saturday morning.  Farmers liked the larger crowds, and residents liked the fresh produce and the ability to chat with their neighbors.

Just another idea from magnetbyMail.com

March 6, 2011 · Posted in Marketing  
    

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