Prepress Services

prepress plate

Prepress Services

Jan 20, 2021

What is prepress?

The short answer is; anything that happens to the print file between receiving an order in a print shop and sending it to the press to be printed is considered prepress. Whether that’s adding bleeds, imposing files, checking for issues, separating into CMYKs, and generally anything that’s part of the process of creating a print layout and moving your project from a file to a final printed product. “Pre” from the latin “prae” meaning before and press referring to the actual machines that do the printing. That’s really all it means, everything that happens before going to press. 

So, what exactly happens to your job before it goes to press? It goes through the three stages of prepress. Preflight, Proofing, Plate Printing.

1. Preflight

You, or a graphic designer working on your behalf will send artwork to the print shop. This artwork will go to a preflight specialist.

These preflight specialists are experts who are trained in the mystical arts of printing and they will start the preflight process by looking at your print file. Since preparing files for print is their primary job, they’ll often notice things that others won’t, such as bleeds that are too small or lack thereof, text or images being cut off, images not aligning etc.

If it passes their initial examination, they’ll go through and check the file more thoroughly and make sure it has everything it needs to print correctly. This is the point where they check to make sure the file is at a proper resolution and that all the assets are included in the file, like the fonts and images. Basically they make sure that the file that you sent will print exactly the way that you want it to.

 

2. Proofing

If you’ve ever used a print shop before, you’re probably familiar with proofs. They’re short run samples of your print that you can examine before the real printing begins. A preview of the final product to come. These proofs are an important part of the process. Maybe a certain color doesn’t look right, or it seems too big or too small once you see a physical print of it. The proof is for your approval so that what we end up printing is exactly what you’re looking for. Once you approve it we can move on to the next step. In the case of digital printing, this means we begin printing right away, but in the case of offset printing, this is where we begin printing plates. 

In some cases, your proofs may be a digital pdf that can be emailed and viewed on your computer, instead of a physical copy. This saves time and cost while still providing the necessary checking in the process. However, digital proofs are not one-size-fits-all, there are times when digital proofs aren’t practical.

 

3. Plate Printing

What are plates? You probably know from context that they’re not the kind of plates that you eat off of. These plates work a lot like stamps. Very advanced and detailed finley etched stamps. They are split up into multiple colors, usually CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK) and each of these plates only produces a single color image, but when you put the inks from each plate onto each other, you get a full color image. Our plate printer operators take your image and split it up into those four colors each as a single image. Large plate printing machines then print these single color images onto plates to be loaded into an offset press.

Common Mistakes When Designing for Print

Common Mistakes When Designing for Print

Sept 9, 2020

We’ve all seen it: the flyer whose most important fine print has been sliced off, the brochure sporting a tiny white border around the edges of its otherwise color-saturated pages. Little mistakes disrupt a message and interrupt the audience’s viewing experience. To make matters worse, they’re often reproduced hundreds or thousands of times depending on the scale of the project. However, when equipped with a knowledge of what not to do, the task of designing for small-format print in an overwhelmingly digital age becomes less daunting.

Bleeds and Quiet Borders

The issue of information gone missing and unwanted white borders appearing are different sides of the same coin. When designing for print, it’s necessary to account for what will be cut off, and what won’t. A bleed solves the little white border problem. Creating a bleed is a fancy way of saying “make this design too big for the area you’re formatting”. Essentially, your design has natural borders created by the edges of the area it is printed on, and while technology has advanced so that the cuts made to those borders are more precise than ever, they can still be as little as a millimeter off, producing a noticeable problem. Creating a bleed ensures that even if a guillotine slices your product outside the intended border, your design is not forfeited. Conversely, if the cut is made a millimeter the other way, information hanging out around too close to the edges will be sacrificed. A quiet border ensures necessary things are not being chopped away. Lying on the other side of your natural edge, it is a dead zone where no text should be placed so that in the event that the guillotine makes its incisions too close, relevant text is spared. Utilizing a bleed and a quiet border will ensure that your print concisely and thoroughly conveys the message you’re sending.

CMYK vs RGB

One of the most important yet overlooked factors to consider when formatting digital designs for print is the viewing experience that is offered on paper as opposed to that of a monitor. Printers use the CMYK color scheme (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), whereas monitors produce visible colors along the RGB (red, green, blue) spectrum. CMYK can only combine to create approximately 70% of the colors viewed in the RGB spectrum. If designed in RGB, the printed final product can be markedly different from what was generated on the monitor, and palettes which complemented each other nicely on the screen can clash post-adjustment. While modern printers will convert designs to the scheme before printing, it is still recommended that the product is designed in CMYK to begin with in order to provide a more accurate prototype prior to printing. Invest in software that allows you to design within the CMYK to avoid a post-print headache.

Proofing and Spell Checking

There’s a difference between your and you’re. Are you using it’s correctly? Grammatical errors slip past the untrained or dismissive eye, but your audience’s aren’t. Making sure to double and triple check your design before printing is paramount to conveying a cogent message. Best case scenario, the error only impedes on the perceived quality of your product– worst case a misplaced comma or misspelling gives your message an entirely new meaning. Check your design twice through, then have a third party edit to ensure your design sends the message you intend.

Lastly, source your printing from those who know it best. Having an informed and passionate team that is intent on producing quality content makes all the difference in  the process of designing for print. Delta Print Group consists of over 150 trained professionals who serve in roles from sales to formatting to production. With our vast expertise, we strive to exceed customer expectations. We are print and mail experts so you don’t have to be.

What to Look for in Political Campaign Printing + Mailing

What to look for in political mail printing + Mailing

Apr 21, 2020

When you’re running a campaign, time and money is everything. Because political campaign printing can have a variety of pieces needed to get the word out, finding a full-service printing company is a key to minimizing efforts. Your vendor should be able to produce just about anything you might need for your campaign so that you won’t need to shop around for multiple print vendors. It’s a bonus if they can mail your pieces for you, too!

The most common printing pieces in political campaign printing include signs, posters, stickers, postcards, brochures, flyers, and door hangers. Since these items can range in size any quantity, you’ll want to make sure your print vendor can handle digital, offset, large format, bindery, and mailing capabilities to keeping your costs low. By taking the time to get to know the specific equipment a printing company offers as well as their capabilities and services, you can also get a feel for the quality of work the company can produce.

During the political campaign season, many print companies offer around-the-clock production hours. This is an important service to consider. With deadlines, drop dates, and potential last-minute changes or projects, you want to be sure your print vendor can work with your schedule no matter the situation. A printing company with a multitude of printing presses that will run 24-7 for your projects can make all the difference in saving time and money.

With everything happening under one roof, you also eliminate the need for multiple points of contact. This means any questions you might have about your printed marketing pieces can be answered by one customer service representative, creating less effort for you. As you reach out to printing companies with your political campaign printing and mailing inquiries, consider asking how the company plans to keep you informed of project progress and issues and about their privacy protocols. Or, you might want to provide a specific scenario and see if you are happy with how it would be handled. Lastly, if you need Union Bug capabilities it’s important to check that the print shop offers this service.

When you’ve found a company that feels promising, take note as to how their representatives respond to you. A print vendor with excellent customer service will take the extra time to get to know you and your campaign needs, and will go the extra mile to ensure you will be taken care of. You will also likely be offered an in-person meeting and a tour of their facilities. All of these factors are solid indicators that you are on the right track with a reputable source.

If you are curious about how Delta Print Group can help you with your political campaign printing and mailing, we would love to talk to you! For over 20 years we have partnered with local, regional and national political agencies, organizations and candidates, allowing us to develop a specialized business practice. Please contact us today at 916-928-0801 or [email protected]

What’s the DIfference: Political Mail vs. Election Mail

What’s the DIfference:
Political Mail vs. Election Mail

Mar 24, 2020

We often hear the terms political mail and election mail used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between the two. Here is a quick rundown on the differences between them.

Election Mail

Election Mail is an item mailed to or from authorized elections officials that enables citizens to vote. These types of mail pieces are specific to the election process and the addressee in terms of voting information. Examples of Election Mail include voter registration cards, polling location information, absentee ballots and applications, ballot materials, and other items related to the election process.

Political Mail

Political Mail is any material mailed for a political campaign by a registered political candidate, campaign committee, or committee of a political party. These types of mail pieces can range from endorsements or information on particular candidates to pushes for specific initiatives and registration information for a political party. 

The differences between Political Mail and Election Mail also apply to how these pieces are processed. Qualifying for and correctly identifying your mailing as Election or Political Mail comes with several benefits. It gives you access to specific Election and Political Mail tags that mark your mail as a high priority and affords advantages for handling requirements, ensuring your mail arrives quickly and efficiently. Since Political Mail is considered marketing material, candidates and parties send out more mail than authorized election officials. If your mailers are mismarked, your pieces could get tied up if they are flagged as the wrong type of mail. 

Direct Mail Marketing in 2020

Direct Mail Marketing in 2020

Feb 19, 2020

In a predominantly digital world, direct mail looks like an outdated method of marketing. But when done right, it is a great way to reach your audience, grab their attention, and connect with them on a personal level. 

What is direct mail marketing?

Direct mail marketing is the making and sending of advertising materials through the mail, hoping to get customers to patronize your business. Any business that sells a product or service is a great candidate for a direct mail campaign. Get as creative as you like with your mailers, but make sure you identify yourself or your business, have a call to action (CTA), and a way for your customers to contact you.

Why does direct mail still work?

Research shows an upward trend in response rates over the years, highlighting direct mail’s effectiveness. According to the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail got 9% (house lists) and 5% (prospect lists). Other research shows direct mail campaigns had a higher return on investment (ROI) than paid search and online display ads and was only one percentage point behind social media. In a hyper-digitized world, how is direct mail so effective?

It’s interactive

Since mail is tangible, customers physically handle it. Direct mail gets more attention when customers sort through their mail, deciding what to keep and what to throw out. By including a CTA like a promotional offer or coupon, customers are more likely to keep it. 

It’s memorable

Everyone enjoys getting a letter in the mail—it makes us feel special. A survey showed that 57% of people said receiving mail makes them feel valued. 73% of people prefer direct mail as an advertising method. Personalized touches like a handwritten note or signature spark an emotional response in the recipient, making your marketing more memorable. 

It’s for all age groups

Direct mail reaches everyone. If your target audience is an older demographic, digital marketing efforts won’t be effective. Roughly 4 in 10 seniors are smartphone users and 67% of people between ages 65 and 80 have the Internet. This percentage decreases to 44% with age. Only 34% of people between the ages of 65 and 80 use social media, dropping to 17% for people over the age of 80. What if your target audience is a younger generation? Research shows that 90% of millennials think direct mail is reliable, 87% enjoy receiving direct mail, and 57% purchased something because of direct mail. This form of marketing has the potential to turn anyone into a new customer.

It’s not as crowded

Digital marketing is a more environmentally friendly option, and you’ll start seeing results sooner. But with more companies scaling back on their physical marketing efforts, your piece has a higher chance of standing out. An innovative, colorful piece of mail is more likely to be seen in a mailbox than finding your company through a Google search. There are also fewer distractions when people receive their mail than when they are online. 

Do’s and Don’ts of direct mail

Now that we’ve covered a few benefits of a direct mail campaign, let’s look at a few guidelines that can help you save time, money, and effort. 

Do: Define Your Audience
Research your target audience and focus your efforts there. Direct mail can have a great ROI and engagement rate, but you will get the most return on your efforts when you narrow in on the people who are most likely to be your customers.

Do: Run Tests First
Send out a few test mailers, making sure you have a way to track your customers’ engagement. This can be a coupon code, email, phone number, or landing page unique to your mail campaign. Now you can easily keep track of who is engaging with your marketing. 

Do: Have a CTA
What is it you want your customers to do? Buy something, use a coupon code, take a survey? Whatever it is, make sure to define that for them in clear terms.

Don’t: Forget to Proofread
Take the time to double-check your copy for any typos or grammatical errors. Your mailer is your first impression to potential customers, so make sure your copy is clean. 

 

Don’t: Forget to Follow Up
Track how many people are responding to your mailers. This gives you a database of engaged customers who are more likely to be receptive to future marketing. And send them a little thank you message for their patronage.

Don’t: Forget to Drive Traffic Online
While direct mail is highly effective, combining it with your digital marketing efforts is a winning strategy. Link your physical and digital marketing campaigns with scannable codes, hashtag campaigns, or giveaways to get people active on your social media platforms. 

Direct mail is one of the oldest forms of marketing, but it’s still effective at closing the gap between brands and customers. It’s a good way to stand out, so if you’re looking to shake up your marketing efforts, consider complementing your digital marketing strategy with a direct mail campaign. 

Small format vs Large Format Printing

Small format vs Large Format

Feb 4, 2020

We see print everywhere we go—from billboards to business cards; it is a part of our daily lives. But have you ever considered the differences between small and large print materials? We’ll dive into the differences between small and large format printing and how to decide which one is best for your next print project.

SMALL FORMAT PRINTING

Small format printing refers to print jobs 13×19 inches or smaller. Often used for smaller marketing materials, small format printing can produce large quantities via offset or digital with quicker turnaround times.

Examples of small format projects include:

  • Business Cards
  • Door hangers
  • Calendars
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Postcards

LARGE FORMAT PRINTING

Large format printing is the formal term used to describe large printing projects, usually over 24 inches wide. Apart from size, large format printing differs from standard printing in a few ways. 

The equipment itself is different; it’s not an oversized printer. Large format printers are a roll-to-roll or a flatbed printer. The next major difference is the variety of materials that you can use. Large format printers can print on almost anything—vinyl, canvas, glass, wood, and aluminum are a few common materials. The large format printer used for the job depends on the material. A roll-to-roll printer works well with flexible materials like vinyl, and a flatbed printer works best for rigid materials like glass and wood. With large format printing, you can get great indoor or outdoor use signs that give you the freedom to make a bold statement and capture the attention of passersby. 

Examples of large format projects include:

  • Banners
  • Yard Signs
  • A-Frames/Sandwich Boards
  • Store Displays
  • Promotional Signage
  • Trade show Signage
  • Murals
  • Vehicle Wraps
  • Wall Graphics

WIDE FORMAT PRINTING

How does wide format differ from large format? Technically, it doesn’t. Large format is a general term used to describe prints that are larger than standard printers can accommodate. Wide format printing refers to the size of the print. Wide format printers have a width capacity of 18 to 100 inches.

GRAND FORMAT PRINTING

So what is grand format printing? It’s a print that’s even bigger! Grand format printers have a width capacity of 100 inches or more. To put it in perspective, that’s a little over 8 feet wide. 

Now that you have a better understanding of small format and large format printing, you can make an informed decision about what type of printing you need for your next project.

How to Choose a Print Shop for Professional Printing

How to Choose a Print Shop for Professional Printing

Jan 20, 2020

If you run a business, it’s safe to assume you will need to print media. Maybe you need business cards. Or banners for a trade show. Or your marketing department has realized the benefits of direct mail and wants to produce promotional mailers. Whatever your print needs are, getting professional quality printed materials is necessary to promote your brand and make your services known. Finding the right print shop is an essential part of that process. With plenty of print shops promising to offer the best services, it’s tough to know which one to choose. Whether you are looking for a local commercial printer or an online service, here are a few factors to consider.

equipment

One of the first places to start is with equipment. Does your printer have different presses? Digital? Offset? Web? Think about your projects and the type of printing you need. Some jobs are better suited for digital printing while other projects require offset. Choose a printer that offers a variety of options and have your projects produced in one place, saving you time and money.

Experience

Experience matters when looking for a commercial printer. An experienced printer can help take your project from good to great. Your printer should be a strategic partner for you, not just another vendor. Need paper suggestions? Questions about finishing options? An experienced print shop can help you choose the best options for your project.

Additional Services

Most commercial printers need to do more than standard printing these days. Additional services such as data management, fulfillment, mailing, warehousing, and large format are now regularly found on service lists. It’s efficient and makes one-stop shopping more appealing. When choosing a printer, look for one that offers a variety of services. It makes your job easier.

Customer Service

An important thing to consider when looking for a print shop is customer service. Printing and other services mean nothing without great service. Can they deliver your projects on time? Are they able to show you samples of previous work? Your print shop should be a valued resource and invested in your success. Professional quality printing is a given but great customer service makes all the difference.