Guess What!? The Post Office wants to make Direct Mail easier on YOU!

Posted by Universal Printing on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 @ 11:30 AM

Printing and mail go together... like peas and carrots. They just do. Even in this highly sophisticated era of internet based marketing, SMS messaging, and email blasts, there is a strong argument for direct mail. (In fact, Universal Printing president and owner, Bob Moura, has posted 2 great blogs on that topic. If you haven't read them yet, here are the links: Direct mail... Back-in-the-day or Future Play? Part I and Part II)

Another thing we can count on, is knowing that the United States Postal Service will ALWAYS change their rules, rates, and regulations. Again... they just do.  But THIS time it's beneficial to YOU!

Last week, the USPS issued a press release announcing their plans to expand "simplified addressing" to businesses. For the longest time, this is something that has primarily only been available to the government.

What does this mean?

In a nutshell, it means that business can now expand their reach to a larger audience without having specific names and addresses. You can essentially address your pieces to "Postal Customer" or "Occupant" and it can be delivered to every residence or PO Box in a particular region.

In their press release, the USPS goes on to explain "Simplified addressing will serve as the on-ramp for many small businesses trying to reach their audiences within a specific geographic range. It will allow them for the first time to take advantage of the most effective marketing channel there is — direct mail."

To review their entire press release, follow this link: U.S. Postal Service to Expand Simplified Addressing for Businesses

USPS announces Direct Mail changes that increase your reach!

Tags: commercial printing, business solutions, internet marketing, Tips for improving direct mail and email marketing, direct mail, response rate

Do You Have a Multi Channel Marketing Plan for 2011?

Posted by Universal Printing on Wed, Dec 22, 2010 @ 10:35 AM

 

Universal Printing Multi Channel Marketing 2011

With 2010 rapidly coming to an end, it's a perfect time to evaluate your 1st Quarter marketing goals for 2011. It really doesn't matter what industry you're involved in, EVERY company, group or organization uses marketing to some degree. If you're anything like us, you're most likely focusing your marketing efforts on growing new business and maintaining existing clients. Whether it's finding new leads, or developing existing customers, you need to maximize every chance you have to deliver your message. Your BEST option is an Intgrated Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign.

Symphony, our Multi Channel Marketing software product, offers a complete cross media solution that will get your message out there utilizing multiple conventional, digital and social channels. Not only will you dramatically increase your net impressions (or "touches"), but you'll also be able to track your results utilizing your campaign dashboard and ROI calculator!

Here are a few helpful things to keep in mind when you're planning your integrated marketing campaign.

1- Use a Cross Media approach: Your competitors are either already doing this, or will be VERY soon. There are so many ways to communicate with your audience and if you're not using all of them, you're leaving chips on the table. Utilizing mass media options like radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards, as well as one-on-one methods like email and direct mail are all great. But shouldn't you also be taking advantage of the latest technologies that integrate all these channels and add text messaging, flash video, QR codes and other social media to reach your audience and measure responses?
 
2- Engage your audience: You have less than 3 seconds to deliver your message and request some kind of action. "Less is more." Keep your creative clean and simple, your message clear and concise, and your offer appealing.
 
3- Measure your results: Even if you ARE using all the media options available to you, do you have one central place to track and analyze all your results?  Using seperate tracking URLs for different mass media campaigns will help you see which channels are most effective.  You can do the same with social media pages or QR codes too.

4- Don't forget to follow-up: You've delivered your message, made your impression, and learned as much about your leads as you can. What next? Micro sites and landing pages add power to any campaign. Of course there's the "Thank You" page, and auto reply "Thank You" email, which should always include a way to "refer a friend." But don't miss out on a chance to use surveys to gather valuable client preference information. Utilizing rules based logic allows for dynamic responses and automated follow up based on stated preferences! Real-time lead information is automatically sent to both sales and management. You should also consider integrating SMS or text options for lead follow-up. 95% of all text messages sent get read! 

5- Now INTERACT with them:  Adding personalization to your direct mail or email pieces will get noticed faster. Going one step further and giving them a pURL or link to a personalized website is more likely to keep their attention. As long as you are providing clear actions and strong reasons to continue, you will get more chances to learn what your potential leads want from you.

There's a timeless saying: "Knowledge is power." Symphony helps you harness that power and use it to increase your lead generation and plan future marketing efforts with real measurable information.

So go ahead... Use our cross media solution for your multi channel marketing, and get INTEGRATED!  To help get you started, our friends over at iContact have posted some GREAT ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.

Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, business solutions, email marketing, Tips for improving direct mail and email marketing, direct mail, multi channel marketing, pURLs, response rate, email blast

Happy Holiday Wishes from Universal Printing!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Every year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, all of us at Universal Printing get together for our annual Holiday Luncheon. The owners, Bob and Sandi, supply turkey and ham while everyone else brings in their favorite entree, side item, or dessert.

Universal Printing Holiday Luncheon - Food Table

Universal Printing Holiday Luncheon - Desert Table

This year, it seemed that some early morning snow and sleet might postpone our luncheon but our dedicated staff braved the elements and the feast went on!  We are so fortunate to have such a diverse group of people working here, and it seems like EVERY person on our staff is an amazing cook (or at least KNOWS one!)

Universal Printing Holiday Luncheon - Gift Table

After the feeding frenzy, we enjoyed a laugh-filled White Elephant Gift Exchange (also known by some as a "Yankee Swap" or "Dirty Santa.") The basic idea is that each person brings a small wrapped gift (or re-gift).  Numbers are drawn and everyone in sequence takes turns getting a present from the tree. The TWIST in the game is that as you go down the line, each subsequent person has the choice of selecting an unwrapped present, or stealing an opened present from one of the people who went before them. In that case, whoever has a present taken from them can steal from someone else or take an unopened gift from the tree. To avoid total anarchy, there is a "steal limit" where stolen gifts can change hands twice. The third "owner" of a gift is the FINAL owner of that gift. And to keep all things fair, the person who drew the #1 and went first, gets a final chance to exchange their gift with anyone whose gift is still able to be taken.

We also got another special treat: Owner and CEO, Bob Moura penned a special Universal themed Christmas poem which you can enjoy below, or on our YouTube channel.

Needless to say, we had a great time. It's nice to have a chance for everyone in the shop to come together and enjoy each others' company as a group. It's one of the best things about being part of a company where we are truly like one big family. Honestly, it's one of our strengths: Having an talented and dedicated group of like-minded people working together to achieve whatever projects we're working on from day-to-day. Just like Bob says in his message on our site, "The people who work at Universal Printing are friendly and seem happy to be at work... That's the Universal difference."

Tags: graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, green printing

Office 2010: Good, But Still Not Graphic Design Software

Posted by Universal Printing on Wed, Dec 08, 2010 @ 11:30 AM

Earlier this year Microsoft released their newest Office bundle, Office 2010.  For many people who upgrade to Office 2007 a few years ago, their Ribbon Interface was a huge and often unhappy surprise.  They changed their entire navigation layout, making it very difficult for even the most knowledgeable Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users to find what they were looking for. Most annoying was the lack of a File menu, which had been replaced with a strange little “Office Pearl.”  In Office 2010, they have brought back the File menu, and even enhanced it to become a very complete File Panel complete with file properties, permissions options, and other features making for easier document sharing and collaboration.

One of my favorite new features is in Word, the Paste Preview. It automatically shows you how your pasted information will appear depending on which Paste Format you chose. It’s a relatively minor thing, sure. But it’s still very helpful especially when Cutting and Pasting from webpages, which are often unpredictable.

Universal Printing reviews Office 2010

As with any release, there are a few bugs.  For some unknown reason, the 64-bit version doesn’t offer all of the features as the 32-bit install, but for most users the speed and file save advantage might make it worthwhile.

Also, the way Office 2010 is set-up after installation, it makes setting new file associations difficult.  In the case of Excel, for example, only half of the file formats offered in Office 2007 will automatically open in Office 2010. You can still manually open them through the File menu, but this becomes a little annoying. Microsoft is aware of this known bug also, and is allegedly working on a fix.

The biggest issue that Microsoft Office users seem to be complaining about is the lack of Upgrade pricing.  While some people will opt to purchase the much more economical “Home and Student” Version, those wanting everything included in the Professional Version will to pay full price.

It should also be mentioned, that while Office 2010 is a very comprehensive Business Software package, it still lacks a lot of the features necessary to make files that work well for commercial print. Most people will continue to set up their files in Word or PowerPoint, and pay to have us fix their bleeds or color separations. Microsoft's "desktop publishing" solution, Publisher, still has a clunky interface, and it isn't intuitive in setting up files for commercial printing.  In those cases it is best to produce the highest resolution PDF you can create, and cross your fingers.  Please visit our Software Requirements page for a full list of file formats we accept.

Also, if you aren't sure of the best way to set up your files, you should explore our Graphic Design services. We can either offer expert consultation or simply your project for you.

Tags: graphic design, setting up your files, commercial printing, Universal Printing, business solutions, product reviews

Yeah... our Proportion Calculator ROCKS!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Dec 03, 2010 @ 11:32 AM

By now most people know that Universal Printing is proud of the services we offer, the products we produce, and the level of our commitment to our customers, our community, and the environment.  

Apparently, we also have some very cool tools on our website.  Sure, WE knew they were awesome... that's why we put them there in the first place.  But a lot of OTHER people think they are awesome too! In fact, we have hundreds and hundreds of other folks linking to the tools and resources available on our site.

Of all the resources available, clearly the most popular is our Proportion Calculator. Some of you might remember those neat little Proportion Scales.  They were pretty much two spinny discs with a bunch of tiny numbers, but they could calculate all sorts of enlargements and reductions.  We thought our clients might like an online resource that works pretty much same way.

Who knew that some simple coding on our website would become so popular?  It's crazy!  Anywhere in the world, you can search Google for Proportion Calculator and there we are...
Top 2... Right behind an algebra tutoring site (which really is okay with us because helping kids succeed in school is very cool and we won't complain!)

Old School Proportion Scale

The point is...

We're excited about the success of our site and the warm appreciation that our tools and resources have been getting. So to celebrate, and show OUR appreciation, we're offering a Web Special through our Proportion Calculator page.  We figure if all those people are calculating enlargements and reductions, we should offer REDUCTIONS on ENLARGEMENTS! 

For a limited time, we'll be offering 50% OFF large format posters and banners.  For more details just visit our Proportion Calculator and click the Web Special button. Also, feel free to leave a comment below and tell us what you think of the Proportion Calculator and also our Exclusive Web Special.

Tags: printing services, business solutions, poster printing, wide format printing, banners