The Millennials: How to Use Print to Capture the Attention of the Technology-Driven Generation

Four young adults sitting in booth

Four young adults sitting in booth (focus on couple in foreground)

Officially, a person is a millennial if they reached young adulthood sometime around the year 2000. Also commonly referred to as Generation Y, these are people who are just now becoming the age where they matter most — at least as far as marketing demographics are concerned. They’re starting to break out on their own, live their own lives, and spend a great deal of money. Historically, they’ve also been the most difficult to market to for one simple reason: technology.

Chances are, if you happen to see a young person who can’t be bothered to look up from their smartphone or tablet for a single second to take a look at the world around them, you’re looking at a millennial — or at least a stereotypical one. In reality, it’s actually pretty straightforward to market to millennials, as long as you go about it in the right way.

Be Relevant

By far, the absolute best way to market to millennials is the same way you market to anyone — by being as relevant as possible. Go out of your way to understand Generation Y. Discover how they think and — more importantly — what they’re looking for. You can try all the flashy gimmicks you want or sink a huge amount of time and effort into social networking and similar bits of technology in an attempt to gain a foothold in this ever-important market, but none of it will mean a thing if your message is completely irrelevant to the people you’re after.

It’s Print’s Time to Thrive

Print marketing is actually one of the most powerful techniques you can use to attract the attention of the millennial generation for a very simple reason: it’s difficult to ignore. Whereas baby boomers have decades of experience sifting through direct mail and advertisements in general, it’s still something unique to the younger generation. This makes it more impactful, giving you a competitive advantage over those who forgo this route.

You can also make your print and digital campaigns work together. Use a QR code on your direct mailers, for example, to give millennials the opportunity to begin the conversation in print and finish it online where they feel most comfortable.

Personality Talks

Each new generation tends to be a little more informal than the one before it, but not necessarily in the way you might think. What this trend really means is that each new generation embraces a true sense of personality more than the one before it. Millennials are after a sense of fun and a company that represents a hipper image that they want to be part of. While injecting as much personality as possible into your mailers might not work for that 50-year-old housewife, it will absolutely capture the attention of a millennial.

With each passing year, the millennial generation becomes more and more important. They’re already poised to overtake the baby boomer generation in spending, sooner rather than later. Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. By going after the millennial generation now, you’ll begin to amass an army of loyal followers ready to spend money on your products or services for decades to come.

Writing Thank You Cards and Keywords

girl writing card for mother's Day

girl writing card for mother’s Day

Remember as a child, sitting at the kitchen table, writing thank you notes following the holidays or your birthday? The adults in your life likely had high standards for these notes as well. They wanted to see notes that expressed your gratitude and showed just how much you appreciated the gift. Those extra sentences about how you planned to use those gifts were always important as well.

Did you ever struggle to find the right words for those little notes? You wanted to find words the reader would understand that would communicate how much you liked the gift. You searched for vocabulary that would speak to the reader and resonate with them.

When you create content for your marketing efforts, you’re doing the same thing. You want to find language and vocabulary that correctly expresses what your potential customers want to hear. When you learn to speak the language of your customers, you’ll have far greater success in reaching them and convincing them to use your products and services.

The Importance of the Right Vocabulary

When drafting marketing materials, your customers want to know you understand their individual issues. They want to feel confident you understand their problems and have solutions. When you speak in language that doesn’t resonate with these customers, you risk losing the connection with them. They won’t be able to internalize your message as well or relate to your advertising campaigns. Choosing the right vocabulary helps to ensure a positive response and a stronger relationship with prospective customers.

Vocabulary in Digital Advertising

In the digital world, selecting the best words goes even further than your connection. It determines if your content will be seen at all. Search engines work to match queries to content based on keywords. Using the same vocabulary as your customers allows you to promote your content naturally. The closer your content matches your potential customers’ queries, the higher it will rank and the easier it will be to find.

The key to using keywords correctly is to use them naturally and focus on producing high-quality content. When people click on your content, they want to find valuable information that answers their questions and helps them solve their problems. If you only produce low-quality, keyword-stuffed content, people will click off your page as soon as they open it. This will lower your click rate significantly because your page won’t have any engagement.

Instead, focus on writing information people will want to read and will find helpful, while also naturally adding in keywords as they fit. This will help your content get found, while also engaging your audience. As more people are attracted to what you have to say, your content will continue to rise in the search engine results, attracting even more viewers.

When you wrote those countless thank you notes all those years ago, you probably had no idea you were preparing for your future in marketing. This was actually a valuable experience in finding the right vocabulary that resonated with your audience. Check your vocabulary to make sure you’re using words your potential customers are most likely to respond to, and get started improving your marketing strategies today.

A Guide to Embossing and Debossing

Beautiful paper and elaborate letterheads may entertain the eye, but they only operate on one dimension. If you’re looking for more depth and variety on your pages, consider embossing or debossing them.
Embossing a page involves putting focused pressure on a target area. It begins by printing ink onto the paper and then pressing the printed area with a die, causing the ink to protrude up from the page. Debossing is the same as embossing except that the die is pressed downwards, causing the image to recede rather than to rise up.
Embossing and debossing can be performed on most types of paper and cardstock, but the thickness of the sheet determines how detailed the embossing job can be. Thinner sheets allow you to impress more detailed designs, but they also run the risk of breaking under the pressure of the die. On the other hand, thick sheets are unlikely to break, but they can only have simple designs printed on them.
Through embossing and debossing, you can differentiate the information on your documents, providing an alternative to the italics and bold print that most companies use to set words apart. By embossing certain words and giving them a special effect, you can guide your readers’ eyes towards the key information you want to stand out.
Besides ink, you can also emboss and deboss metallic foil into your documents, giving your pages a bright, colorful sheen that ordinary paper can’t offer. Foil embossing and debossing, also known as combination stamping, can be used to place emphasis on words, to create more varied illustrations, or simply to decorate the margins of the page.
Another decorative option is blind embossing and debossing, which involves putting pressure on blank sections of paper. Whereas ink and foil methods call attention to the image they’re impressing, blind methods give your paper more subtle distinctions. If you want to include a corporate logo on your document, blind embossing is the method of choice, as it puts the image in your reader’s mind without seeming obvious or out of place. You can also use these methods to add a terrain to your paper, giving readers a more varied tactile experience than ordinary paper and cardstock can offer.
Whether you seek to make your documents easier to understand, insert subtle information, or simply add beauty and distinction to your pages, embossing and debossing add a new range of ways to distinguish your prints.

Print Marketing Techniques that Have Stood the Test of Time

In marketing, everyone’s always looking for the “next big thing.” Whatever your business, you’re probably looking for

Vintage Clock

Vintage Clock

that bold, new method no one else has thought of before to connect with your target audience in a new and meaningful way. Yet even with all of today’s shiny, new marketing channels and techniques, some classic print marketing ideas are just as relevant today as they were way back when. What’s more, they’re also a great way to inject your modern campaign with some old-school flair.

Sign Spinners

Sign spinners are making a huge impression in today’s marketplace, but the idea itself isn’t as new as you might think. Though sign spinners took a bit of a back seat as new digital techniques rose to prominence in the last few years, it’s actually an idea that’s been around for decades. The premise is simple: you literally have someone stand out in front of your store with a bright, colorful sign they spin in all sorts of different ways. People driving by can’t help but notice the sign spinner’s skills, which also means they can’t help but notice the sign.

This old-school technique is effective for that very reason: it’s unavoidable. If you’re stopped at a red light, make no mistake, you will absolutely pay attention to what that sign spinner is up to. If he’s doing his job right, that means you’ll also now be aware of the business or brand he’s promoting.

Print Materials with Long Copy

For years, experts have told us that nobody pays attention to long copy anymore. Instead, they want everything in short, manageable bursts. Social networks like Twitter operate on this very premise and have seen a huge amount of success because of it.

But shorter isn’t always better. Print materials with long copy are still a great way to make an impact, as you’re going out of your way to give your customer all the information they need up front to make an informed decision. As long as that copy is effectively written and contains the appropriate call to action, it can be just as successful at generating leads and conversions as that short flyer you created with all those colorful graphics.

Everything Old Is New Again

Marketing trends are cyclical. A great new technique is seen as effective and is adopted by everyone. Soon, the general population grows tired, and the hunt for the “next big thing” begins. Those old techniques are abandoned in favor of something new, before coming back into fashion again eventually.

By embracing these older print marketing techniques, you’re doing more than just leveraging the fact that they were, are, and always will be effective in their own right. You’re injecting your marketing with a much needed breath of fresh air that will truly help set your campaign apart from the competition. That’s the type of meaningful advantage you need to focus on if you want to get the most sets of eyes in front of your brand.

Picking the Perfect Paper

perfect_paper

You’ve created the perfect design for that brochure, newsletter, postcard, or getting-the-band-back-together-because-we’re-on-a-mission-from-God announcement. Great. Now, it’s time to select the right paper to complete the package. Paper selection is a very important element in printed projects; it affects both the cost and visual appeal of the piece you’re creating.

In addition to choosing a specific weight, opacity, and brightness, the finish of your paper plays a big role in the overall appearance and feel of your printed product. Here’s a quick rundown of common finishes and how each effect is achieved:

  • A smooth finish results from paper passing through sets of rollers during the papermaking process.
  • Bond paper is a relatively high-grade paper stock with a rag content ranging from 25 percent to 100 percent.
  • Vellum has a subtle roughness.
  • An embossed finish provides a molded appearance on the paper’s surface.
  • A linen finish resembles linen cloth. (Imagine that.)
  • Cockle is a texture similar to homemade paper.
  • Metallic paper is coated with a thin film containing metal or plastic whose color and gloss simulate metal.
  • Coated paper has a coating applied to give the sheet a better appearance.
  • Cast coated results in an exceptionally glossy coated finish, usually only on one side.

Now that you know a bit about finishes, let’s use that knowledge to help you pick the perfect paper for your project. (Try saying that five times fast.) These selections are sure to please, no matter how divine or ordinary your mission may be..

Paper Type Characteristics Finish Type of Project
Bond Comes in a range of pastels, neutrals, matching envelopes, and matching cover weights Smooth, cockle Fliers (like that mission-critical announcement), forms, copies
Writing paper Comes in a range of colors and flocking options that match envelopes, plus cover and text weights Smooth, linen, vellum, cockle, etc. Stationery
Uncoated book Comes in a range of colors and is thicker and more opaque than bond or writing papers Smooth Direct mail, newsletters, catalogs
Text Comes in a range of colors and flocking options that match envelopes, plus cover and text weights Smooth, linen, vellum, cockle, etc. Letterhead, annual reports, brochures
Coated book Matching cover weights limited to cream and white, although specialty lines exist in a range of colors Dull, gloss, matte, cast-coated Magazines, catalogs, direct mail
Cover Heavier and more durable counter-part to coordinate with text, book, and writing papers Smooth, linen, vellum, gloss, matte Business cards, report covers, brochures, tickets, postcards, pocket folders, greeting cards
Index/Bristol Comes in a range of colors and finishes Coated, vellum, smooth Postcards, file folders, tickets
Translucent vellum Semitransparent stock comes in a range of colors and weights plus matching envelopes Smooth, grooved See through envelopes and overlays
Newsprint Inexpensive, light-weight, white/manila only Vellum Newspapers, tabloids
Label Comes in gummed, pressure sensitive, and self-adhesive backing and in a range of colors Smooth (uncoated), matte, glossy, cast coated Labels, stickers

Nourish Creativity with a Visual Diary

Long, drawn-out projects with endless stages and countless revisions can be emotionally and creatively draining. Recharge your creative stores by taking a bit of time every day for pure, no-external-obligation artistic and design endeavors. A visual diary keeps you creative by making a space where you design something new each day that’s just for you. Just as a written diary captures your thoughts in words, a visual diary is a place to record your thoughts in a graphical format. It provides a welcome break from your regular work routine and a place for inspiration.
Steps to Succeeding with a Visual Diary
It’s easier to begin if you set some parameters. Will you create something daily for a month? Do you prefer to have a theme or to free associate to create? Will you create a paper journal or put your work in a digital format?
Different mediums can inspire different results. For instance, some designers find that working in a graph paper composition book allows them to create well-proportioned designs.
Whether you wish to do a small project a day or to dedicate time to your visual journal on three pre-set days a week, sticking to your commitment is important. Regularity is the key. Even 15 minutes a day freely creating can energize you for more in-depth and restricting projects.
Build daily entries into a series. When a subject, medium, or process excites you, explore it further in future entries. You may find that you create an impressive work over time. For instance, you can experiment with different ways to create motion in a graphic or make a typographical piece of art each day.
Keep energized by sharing what you’re doing. Feedback feeds the creative soul. If you’re doing a paper journal, take it with you to gatherings to show friends what you’re working on. If your medium for the visual diary is digital, you can share it online through Facebook, Flickr,deviantART, or your own blog.
If you miss a day or two, don’t feel tempted to give up on the project altogether. Just pick up where you left off. Don’t feel you need to do extra entries to “catch up.” The idea is to make this a pleasant commitment.
When the month is over, look over what you’ve created and store the ideas for later. Your design journals can be a great source of inspiration. When it comes time to start a new design project for work, you may find a solution to design problems in your daily visual journal.
Making visual works for no purpose other than to create can help break up the tedium and stress of a professional creative life. Give yourself permission to create just for you for a short time each day. You’ll feel more engaged and better prepared in your professional work.

Perfect Your Proofing

It may seem like there is never time to proof something thoroughly the first time, but when it is not done, you may end up making time to do the entire job a second time. Just what are some of the things that should be checked during the proofing process? Here is a list to perfect your proofing strategy:

perfect proofing

Proof the text.
The first place to start is the text. Review all text for spelling and grammatical correctness, check punctuation, and most importantly, accuracy of content. Making changes to text later in the production process will only slow things down, so make sure that everything is perfect before moving on to the next step.

Proof the images.
Viewing the images on your computer is a great place to start, as long as your screen is calibrated properly, but keep in mind that the colors on-screen will not be a perfect match to the colors that are printed. Be sure to check the size and resolution of the image. For high-level image quality jobs, it may be wise to have a physical proof rather than just an on-screen proof of the images done on professional proofing equipment–you will get a better idea of the true color of the piece.

Proof the pages.
Checking an entire page of an original can be done on screen, but it is also a good idea to print out the pages. Look over the typography, placement of images, illustrations and text, as well as hyphenation and line arrangement, page format, and bleeds.

The difference between a thorough proof and no proof at all is the time you may spend having to redo a job. Taking the time at the beginning will save you time and money in the long run.

Effective Use of Varnish

Just as varnish on a dresser or table protects the wood and gives it a nice finished look, the varnish used on printed pieces enhances their look and durability. If you are interested in using varnish on your next printing project, here are a few things you should know:

  • In-line press varnish, where the varnish is applied to the complete surface of the printed piece, is a relatively inexpensive way to add a lush finish, and may be less expensive than printing on glossier, cast-coated paper.varnish
  • Spot varnish is a great way to maximize the contrast between matte and gloss surfaces. It allows you to apply varnish to a certain image or graphic on your printed piece, such as a logo or photo, while leaving the rest of the piece unvarnished.
  • While you may think of varnish as a glossy coating, a matte varnish can be used to protect your project from scuff marks without adding the shine of a glossy varnish.
  • Certain varnishes may yellow over time. If you have a project with a long shelf life, be sure to let our print shop know and we can help you find an appropriate varnish.
  • A UV varnish is applied off-line and is cured with ultraviolet light. This process gives the surface an exceptional gloss and rub resistance.

If you would like to use a varnish to polish off your printed pieces, it is important that you work closely with our print shop staff to ensure that your project will be completed to your specifications. It is our pleasure to help you navigate this process.

When Color Matters: Tips for Specifying Colors

You’re designing a new brochure, flyer, or newsletter and want to make sure it looks great. You’re considering printing it full-color, but aren’t sure if that’s the best option to choose, considering your budgetary needs. Here are some tips to help you decide how many colors to use and how to make the most of the colors you choose.

letter head When to use spot colors…

    • You only need one or two colors for the printed piece.
    • Your project doesn’t include any full-color photos.
    • Your corporate colors need to be reproduced to exact specifications and cannot be reproduced faithfully enough by combining cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK)… the four “process” colors.
  • Your project calls for fluorescent, metallic, or other special inks.

When to use process color…

    • You need more than two colors.
    • Your piece includes full-color photos.

When to use both…

    • You want to enhance the colors by including a “bump” plate (an extra printing plate set up in one of the four process colors and meant to enhance that tone).
    • Your project includes full-color photos, but your logo or corporate colors don’t reproduce well with process color inks.
  • Your project includes full-color photos and also requires metallic, fluorescent, or other special inks.

No matter what color combination you choose, there are some things you can do to ensure your project goes more smoothly. For example, as you’re preparing your artwork, make sure you aren’t “duplicating” any colors. Look through the color palette in your page layout software. Remove any duplicate colors you find, and reassign the corresponding objects and layers accordingly.

Also make sure you give your colors the same names in each application you use for the project. For example, make sure you give the color the same name in InDesign as you give it in Photoshop and Illustrator. This will help reduce confusion and ensure the colors separate properly when preparing the piece for print.

And finally, if you decide to go with process printing, use your design software to convert any spot colors you have to their CMYK equivalents. When doing so, double-check the values the software assigns, to ensure good printability. For example, if Photoshop gives a color a 1% magenta value, you might want to do some tweaking to eliminate the need for that value. We’ll be happy to help you optimize your files for print and answer any questions you have while producing your files.

Blacker than Black: Using “Enriched” Black Ink

When we think of colors, we often think of many different shades of each primary color. Take blue for example…it can vary between colors such as baby blue, aqua, turquoise, teal, royal blue, or navy blue.

overprint blackMany people would assume that the one exception to these color variations is black. After all, we think of black as being absolute darkness, and expect it to appear this way when printed on a document as well. However, black that is used in full-color (process) printing is transparent, like all process inks, and cannot cover ink or paper as thoroughly as you may like.

Although using an opaque black ink may seem like a simple solution, it would cause adverse reactions to other color or high-res images that contain black ink. Instead, the wise choice would be to add various “enriched” process blacks to your color menus. Their use should vary according to how and where the black is applied.

Here are two types of enriched blacks to consider using:

  • Rich black. Rich black combines process black with one other process ink (traditionally 100% black and 60% cyan), which causes the black to appear “blacker” because the second ink color increases its density. Use rich black whenever the edges of a black object are fully exposed, or when a black object straddles other image information. And remember, it’s only appropriate for objects that are at least a quarter-inch thick.
  • Super black. By combining three process undercolors (50% cyan, 50% magenta, and 50% yellow), you can create the deepest, most satisfying process black you can reproduce on-press. Use super black only when all the object edges are within other colors, or when they bleed off the edge of the page.

Note: Because computer monitors cannot accurately duplicate printed results, the graphic illustrating the use of enriched black is meant only to give an approximation of the end result.