Printing Custom Flyers: 7 Ideas to Get Your Money’s Worth

printed full color versatile flyers

Custom, full color flyers are a true workhorse of any solid marketing effort. They function as handouts, sales sheets, product cards, event announcements, coupons, direct mail, or invitations. Even with today’s online competitive marketplace, they remain a central, effective tool for putting into your potential customers’ hands the information you need them to have. Digital printing now allows you to customize and personlize flyers as never before for shorter runs at lower costs with very quick turnaround times.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing and purchasing flyers in order to get the most bang for your buck:

Power Up Your Brand: quality graphic design is within the reach of every budget today thanks to the amazing advancements in desktop design software. Take advantage of that! Every time you are lucky enough to catch a potential customer’s eye, you want your look to be consistent and to carry the same impression. That instant of positive recognition is your brand at work. Be vigilant in making sure all your printed material coordinates with your online presence, your signage, your store displays… and a flyer is probably the easiest place to manage that look you want. Choose a printer that can assure you of the proper color match, paper choice, “look and feel” and can design everything you need with your precise brand specifications.

Repurpose as Direct Mail pieces: When you print flyers for in-store distribution or use at an event or trade show, follow up that effort with a direct mail distribution using the exact same piece. You will save printing costs by producing more at one time. Design your flyer to be a “self-mailer.” One third of the back will be a mailing panel with your return address and the mail indicia you need so that when folded and tabbed shut, it will mail at automation-compatible rates through the USPS.  Also a standard letter-sized piece of paper which is folded into thirds will fit into a regular #10 envelope along with any other pieces you want to distribute.

Consider VDP: The more personalized a direct mail piece is, the more successful. VDP, or variable data printing, uses a source spreadsheet of recipients to personalize each individual flyer you print. That can be as simple as including the person’s name in the “Dear John” salutation, to actually switching out the images within a flyer’s design, or targeting individual offers to individual people within the same printing and mailing. Remember that your database of current and potential customers is marketing gold… the more precise and detailed your spreadsheet is, the more flexibility you have in targeting specific groups with specific offers.

Connect to your website through QR codes: Ever made a QR code yourself? Go here to try it out and see how easy it is. Do people really “click” and use QR (or quick response) codes? Studies show QR code usage has exploded over the past year, and they are free to create and easy to include on your flyer, providing a link from the physical part of your marketing to the virtual. Even if someone doesn’t scan and follow the code to your website, seeing it on the product lets them know there is more to be found from you online – a fact that might influence them later on. Include the QR code!

Produce a set of matching flyers:  one each for your product lines or services, or to highlight different aspects of your offerings. When you create all of these at the same time, you will save both design and production costs, as well as ensuring a consistent branding on all the materials. They look great displayed together, or collected into a folder for sales calls.

Include a coupon: Give people a reason to hang onto your flyer. The longer it is in their possession, the stronger the impact you are making. Design an eye-catching coupon that can be torn off and redeemed. You will be able to track the results and see how effective your promotion was, whether they are redeemed online or in person. Coupons are also a good way to collect contact information from customers so they get into your database for future targeted marketing: at the very least, ask for name, address, and email on your coupon!

Be specific! Give people the information they need to know in order to do what you want them to do. Seems simple, but can so easily be overlooked! Tell them the exact price, availability, sale dates, return policy, hours of operation, delivery information, etc. If you solve any nagging questions up front, they are more likely to consider their purchase right away, or choose you over someone who’s procedures seem murky or confusing.

Rely on your printer for advice and direction in choosing and branding your promotional items. They should be able to provide you access to just about any item you can imagine. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Saving Your Print Project – Seven PrePress Pitfalls, One Simple Fix

7 common mistakes in file submission for print

THE HAND-OFF:  the moment of truth in a smooth, successful marketing project comes when you transfer your digital files to your print service provider. Below are seven of the most common roadblocks that are sure to frustrate you and defeat your deadline.

FAIL #1: Giving the printer EVERYTHING. A good rule of thumb is to not give your printer any file that you do not want printed! It is tempting to try to save time in back and forth file transmissions and endless emails to just hand over every related file for a project. Often customers will drop off a disk or jump drive with all their marketing materials on it. At the design stage, this can be a good resource to have, but if your design is finalized for a specific project, you just astronomically increased your chances of getting the wrong thing printed!

FAIL #2: Missing fonts, missing links. Not gathering all the necessary digital files to print your job is really the heart of all file submission problems: missing fonts, image links, profiles – they all stop your project dead in it’s tracks. Probably the most common is missing image links. A printer will not be able to output high resolution images from an “unlinked” page layout. If they request the specific images, be aware that placing a picture onto a page in a Word document (this applies for InDesign, Quark, or any other page layout program as well) is NOT sending the actual image file. You will need to find the original file itself to send. Missing fonts will also derail your project – fonts work on the computer where your files were created because they are installed on that machine. Ship the file to another computer and the fonts will substitute to ones with which you will NOT be happy. Most layout programs now, thankfully, have a feature that allows you to package all necessary files into one bundle for printing. Also, creating print-ready pdf files will allow you to avoid all the link and font issues as the pdf can be a self-contained file suitable for print.

FAIL #3: Mixing process, RGB and spot color definitions in the same file. Color management can be a complicated process, but in general you should be aware of the “colorspace” your layout is created in and it’s intended output. Using spot or PMS colors in a design will require them to be converted at some point if you plan to print in CMYK. You can design in an RGB workspace, but be aware that colors will shift when the conversion takes place to offset or digital printing. A common mistake is also using spot or PMS colors in a file that contains transparency – ie, uses drop shadows, gradients, photo effects that incorporate transparent layers. Most programs will warn you to look out for “unexpected results.” They aren’t lying!

FAIL #4: When a different file type is requested than the one used, just change the file extension name by retyping it. Yes, this happens often! It seems like such a simple fix, but predictably, it changes nothing. A pixel-based tif or jpg file cannot automatically become a smooth, resizeable vector file just by typing a suffix onto the filename.

FAIL #5: When a vector file is needed, just drop your pixel-based image onto a page in Illustrator and save as .eps. This is similar to just changing the file extension in the name. When a vector file is required – usually for spot color separation or to be resized for smooth output at a large scale – a file type that is pixel-based will not become a vector file by simply placing it into a program that is vector-based.

FAIL #6: Supply your logo or an image by right (or option) clicking on a website and saving to your desktop …or tell a printer just to go the website for the art they need. As a rule, the resolution of any art on a website will be too low for good print quality. Just count on it.

FAIL #7: Neglect to specify a PMS color match for a specific color output that must be exact. Remember, blue is never just blue.

So, all of those are common mistakes to avoid during file submission. The good news is there is one simple fix – talk to your printer! Call them on the phone and ask for guidance in preparing and transferring your files. They will be eager to walk you through any questions or problems you encounter. The advice is free, and will most likely save you additional pre-press charges that you can incur if they have to fix or adjust your files for digital or offset output. If you are dealing with an online printer and cannot get an actual person on the phone you have discovered one of the reasons they are able to offer lower prices: low standards for customer service.

Communication is the answer – it will save you time and money. If your service provider can’t provide the needed answers or doesn’t have time to chat with you, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Writing Brochure Copy? 5 Tips to Ease the Pain.

Brochures before and after

Often the first and most lasting impression of your business comes from a company brochure. Telling the story of your business in a compelling way, visually as well as literally, the company brochure establishes who you are, how your product or service can be of benefit, and why customers should look to you for help ahead of other competitors – important stuff!

Both the design and the writing of copy for your brochure need to be done with your overall branding requirements in mind. A powerful brand must be consistent across your marketing efforts. Printed materials should consistently match your online presence, both in tone and appearance. These printed materials will connect in a way online marketing cannot — by physically placing your brand and information into potential customers’ hands, to be read at their leisure. Its physical nature establishes a sense of permanency and credibility in the public’s mind. writing brochure copy

Often we feel overwhelmed when trying to focus our thoughts about our business into the content of a brochure. Below are a few quick tips to think about as you start to prepare your brochure copy:

5 Tips to Writing Effective Brochures

Set the tone – Energetic? Cutting edge? Warm and fuzzy? Know the impression you want to leave in your customer’s mind and set the tone at the outset for the overall text of your brochure.

Be clear – How will you benefit the reader? That is what you want to state clearly and consistently. Be sure to keep their perspective in mind when you plan your content — not necessarily what is most important to you. Think from your reader’s perspective – and give USEFUL information that will benefit someone looking for the services or products you offer. If your copy lapses into “sales” talk, you may be defeating your purpose.

Get personal – Highly technical information or simply too much information bores and even alienates the reader. Your copy should be readable, relatable and enlightening without being dull. Remember that the scope of a brochure is fairly limited – you do not need to try to provide all relevant details, but rather to outline your major points with an appropriate amount of elaboration.

Get organized – Lead your reader through the information in an organized, logical way. If they get lost or confused along the way, you’ve lost your reader. Sketching out your main points in a brief outline format (yes, on actual paper!) can be a great way to get and stay on track with what you want to get across. And always end with a ‘call to action’, encouraging them to make contact for further assistance.

Make it easy – If you have done your job well, your customer will want to reach you… make that easy with a map or directions to your location, your web address, phone and fax numbers.


Print is a vital component of any successful integrated marketing campaign. It works in tandem with your website, email, signage and other outreach – yet the unique power of print lies in physically reaching the hands of your potential customers. Rely on your printer for advice and direction in the creation of all your marketing materials. They should be able to guide you in everything from copy writing to the latest technology to help get your message out… if they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Pursuit Horizon: Cross country documentary in the making

Documentary travels through Asheville

Ever wanted to shove off and hit the road to see what lies out there for you? That is a popular fantasy for most of us working stiffs – some folks actually make that dream come true.

Enter Zach Settewongse and Amanda Pollard: they decided to grab life by the handlebars, heading out on their high tech motorcycles on a journey of over 8,500 miles around the US, filming their own adventures for a documentary, blogging and exploring the frontier of the information revolution. They camp when they have to, and let circumstances take them where they need to go – a brave adventure that brought them through Asheville and for an overnight stay here at ImageSmith. We were inspired by how they are exploring where technology and a sense of adventure can lead you.Mary Smith, Zach Settewongse and Amanda Pollard

You can follow Zach and Amanda’s crosscountry odyssey at their daily blog and through weekly podcasts, or check out interviews on YouTube. Remember to “LIKE” them on Horizon or “Donate” to their trip and help keep Pursuit Horizon on the road longer.


Rely on your printer for advice and direction in deciding what options are out there for your marketing budget. They should be able to provide you with the latest information and innovative ideas in print and integrated marketing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.