QR Codes: More than Just Internet Marketing Chic!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 @ 03:10 PM

QR codes are quickly gaining traction here in the US.  With almost 1/3 of Americans (ages 12 and up) carrying smartphones, and given the spontaneous and instantaneous nature of the web, it’s very little surprise that QR codes are becoming accepted at an amazing rate!  Add to this, the viral nature of most marketing strategies, and you get an even broader appeal.  Heck, even the US Postal Service sees the QR code potential, and is planning to run a special Mobile Barcode Promotion later this summer.

 

What are QR codes?

UP sample QR code | Scan it to get directions

QR codes (Quick Response) are 2-dimensional barcodes that were originally designed for inventory tracking.  You’ve probably used QR codes without even realizing it – like when you’ve rented a movie from any of those RedBox machines. The little checkerboard-looking code in the middle of that DVD case is a QR code which is scanned inside the machine to help it know which movies are available at that location. At any time, RedBox knows who has what DVD, where and when they returned it, or if it’s been reserved online and needs to be made unavailable until it’s picked up… all using QR codes.

Most smartphone and web-enabled phones have QR code readers available, allowing anyone to take a picture of any QR code and instantly trigger whatever event was intended.  In most cases, it might be a link to a specific website or video, but can also be used to add someone’s information to your phone's contact list, or to enroll in SMS/text message promotions.  The possibilities are endless, and MANY marketers are jumping at the chance to find now and creative ways to use QR codes.

 

Why use QR codes?

Aside from the “cool” factor which might appeal those who get excited by tech, there are so many practical reasons for using QR codes:

UP sample QR codes | Scan This and SEE!

Connect people anytime, anywhere – So many people have smartphones, and they almost always have them with them.  So if they want to snap the QR code in that moment, they are connected to whatever information you want them to see!    

Update info INSTANTLY – If you plan your QR code and links correctly, you can constantly update or change the information that’s being linked.   So you can update product information, switch linked videos, change the SMS/texting messages, or anything else you want to keep current…. WITHOUT having to change out all your QR coded pieces.

Possibilities are LIMITLESS – You can literally add a QR code to ANYTHING:  Posters, Banners, Flyers, Business Cards, Postcards, Envelopes, T-shirts, Tablecloths, Menus, Napkins, Place Settings, Table-top Displays, Vehicle Wraps, Window Clings, Billboards, and on, and on….  And when THAT list ends, you start to consider how many things you can LINK to: product videos, assembly or usage instructions, social media channels, e-promotional signups, discount and savings memberships,
new promotional information, employees interviews, testimonials, driving directions, contact information, and so much more!

 

I’m convinced!  Now what?

So you want to find out the most creative and innovative ways to use QR codes to help you stand out, arm your customers with up-to-the-minute info, or simple earn some extra COOL points?  Well, a great place to start is by giving us a call and speaking with any member of our helpful staff.  Our team of eMarketing Experts will be more than happy to consult with you on any project, and help you take your flat printed pieces to the NEXT LEVEL!

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: business solutions, digital printing, Social Media, internet marketing, email marketing, Tips for improving direct mail and email marketing, emarketing

Easter Photos + Wide Format = Special Memories for a Lifetime

Posted by Universal Printing on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 @ 03:45 PM

Nothing says SPRING quite the same way that the Easter holiday does.  The weather is getting warmer, the grass is getting greener, and flowers and trees begin to bloom with vivid colors.  It’s a time for reflection and renewal, breaking out of the “cabin-fever” of a cold and grey winter.  For many people, it’s a time to get together with friends and family. Some dress up in their Easter finest, with brightly colored Easter hats, Easter dresses, Easter shirts and ties.

It’s inevitable… wherever you have warmer weather, sunny skies, and friends and family together, SOMEONE is usually taking photos.  Digital cameras, which were once a high-tech luxury, are relatively common today.  Most cellphones offer built-in digital cameras that rival the standard digital cameras of just a year ago.  If social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, and Tumblr are any indication, people are capturing moments more than ever.

Need ideas for which memories to capture?

Enjoy your Little Picasso or Van GoghMaking Easter crafts, like painted or dyed eggs or colorful Easter baskets, are a great what to spend quality family time.  Sometimes even prepping for this is almost as much fun as the activity itself.  It’s not every day that your kids are eagerly crowded around the table with paintbrushes and aprons so take advantage by grabbing your camera and start clicking away. Imagine the scene of wild and happy children smiling and laughing in their paint covered aprons while holding up their colorful Easter creations!

Bunnies and Puppies and Chicks, Oh My! There are only a few days out of the year that you can get away with dressing your child like a cute and cuddly animal. Enjoy this chance to see your kids dressed up and take pictures of them holding bunnies, puppies or baby chicks! Or even dress your babies or small children as bunnies and grab your camera!

To the Egg Hunt Imagine the scene of your kids and others running around lush green grass surrounded by newly blooming flowers, while toting decorated baskets filled with brightly painted eggs.  There is nothing more precious than the looks of concentration or pure joy a child’s face while he or she looks for and ultimately finds these fun little Easter treasures.   All the while, you should be busy snapping away with your digital camera!

Family ties are ties that bindAs typical families get spread further apart, holidays are the few times a year when the whole family might get together. Take advantage of these opportunities to capture your family and you’ll be amazed at how fast the children grow and how special it is when you span generations!

Universal Printing Wide Format | Easter Poster Ideas

So I have AWESOME pictures… Now what?

Now that you have captured great moments and wonderful memories, your snapshots are PERFECT for Wide Format.  Instead of just posting to an online album, or sticking them into a scrapbook or photo album, try THESE creative ideas to display them as colorful art in your home.

  • Think BIG and instead of a simple 4"x 6" picture, make a 24"x36" poster suitable for mounting or framing.

  • Turn your snapshot into art by having it printed on canvas material.  Photoshop effects can even give it a hand-painted or chalk-pastel look. 

  • Consider using a special backlit material to create an even more unique display piece for your home. There are several affordable backlit frames available online, or you can even DIY.

  • Cover all or part of a wall using a removable wall cling.  It’s a great way to change make family memories larger than life, and you can change it out seasonally.

If you would like to discuss any of these or other options, you’re always welcome to contact any member of our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They are always more than happy to help you find creative ways to use Wide Format Printing.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: tips and tricks, commercial printing, digital printing, Photos, Digital camera, poster printing, wide format printing, Posters

Is Printing Offshore a Good Idea, or Just Plain Lame?

Posted by Robert Moura on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 @ 02:59 PM

Offshore Printing - Just Plain Lame

We’ve noticed over the past several years that some of our clients have tried the offshore printing gig (like in China, for example.) As far as we can tell, they have all come back to buying locally with someone they can trust, have a face to face conversation with, and avoid experiencing any of the challenging cultural differences.

This experience has been both rewarding and frustrating for us. Frustrating because we usually don’t find out until a client has already printed overseas, been burned or let down, and then come back. Rewarding because they do come back, with similar stories and a realization that the trust, professionalism, quality and reliability we provide as a “given”, which they had previously taken for granted, has real value to their companies.

The most common issues we've heard are: longer than promised delivery times, unanticipated shipping expense, and customs tariffs and delays. Add poor quality, short count delivery, inferior packaging causing freight damage and spoilage, and the impossibility of making up those shortages in a timely fashion, and you’ve pretty well summed up the top challenges.  Communication is also usually sketchy but, somehow in the buyer’s mind, worth the allure of savings and the adventure of international intrigue! (P.S. The last thing we are told is that the savings never really materialized, which made the rest of the above even more painful for them to endure!)

Having lived overseas for over 15 years I understand that international trade is a good thing. Unfortunately, the printing industry is already highly commoditized in the U.S., despite including all the value benefits mentioned above. So the question becomes: Why would you want to go overseas, where you typically give up all the benefits your local printer offers and add all the risks? Not to mention, your work will probably be produced on equipment that the rest of the world has previously discarded.

I am sure that some may have different takes and experiences regarding offshore printing, but these are my experiences and my views for what they are worth. Let us know if you have any experiences, good or bad.

So if you want to “Think Globally and Act Locally” and be a contributor to your local economy — where your kids and ours go to school, your friends and family live, play, worship, and pay taxes  — then maybe you are on the team that thinks Offshore Printing is just plain lame!

Tchau for now!

Bob Moura

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, digital printing, offset printing

It's about CHOICE! Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Apr 08, 2011 @ 12:03 PM

Helping you decide between Digital and Offset Printing

One of the advantages of being in business for over thirty years, is that we've seen a lot of exciting changes in the world of commercial printing and graphics communications. Computer-to-Plate (CTP) systems have made a huge impact in traditional offset printing, providing better printing plates capable of amazing image quality.  Our chemistry-free plating system develops on press which adds an incredible environmental benefits as well.  Technology has lead to major improvements in the areas of digital printing and copying also — using faster, more precise RIPS, and producing higher resolution output in shorter periods of time. When you add our GRACoL G7 processes into the mix, you get dynamic color which is repeatable and matches across ALL devices. Exciting stuff!

As proven experts in both Digital Printing and traditional Offset Printing, we have a great deal of experience and advice that we're more than happy to share with our clients. First, let's take a look at the advantages of each printing method:

Advantages of Digital

  • Lower cost per unit for shorter runs (no money tied up in plates or make-ready)
  • Faster turn-around times (no drying time required.)
  • Variable Data printing so each page can be unique
  • Instant Proofing, since each proof IS a print
  • Less waste since there's virtually ZERO make-ready


Advantages of Offset

  • Lower cost per unit for longer runs (Unit cost goes down as print quantity goes up)
  • Better Quality with higher image resolution (especially when combined with CTP, like we do!)
  • More paper options (Most digital devices require special papers and smooth finishes, which makes linen and laid finishes challenging or not possible)
  • Pantone Spot Color and Metallic Ink options (Not all colors can be built from CMYK, no matter how hard you try!)


Making your decision...

Once you've weighed all your options, it comes down to the needs and requirements of each unique project.  Digital is clearly the best option for small runs needed in a hurry, as long as you don't need special papers or spot colors.  If you have time, need a bunch, and have special corporate colors to match, you can't beat traditional offset.

Fortunately, while the choice is clearly yours, you never have to figure it out all alone.  You're always welcome to contact one of our knowledgeable Customer Service or Sales Representatives. They will always be happy to help you choose the best solution for your project, while meeting your budget and time-line.

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: commercial printing, printing services, digital printing, offset printing, G7, green printing, environmental responsibility, variable data