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master print article When Should I Use Direct Mail?

Category: Print

direct mail marketingDon't let the words "junk mail" haunt your understanding of success via direct mail. Indeed, there are proven directions in which to aim your direct mail at to achieve higher success rates. Let’s take a look at some occasions where direct mail opens the door to profit.

The main goal of direct mail is to grow your business. A singular focus surfaces here: the customer base. Once you’ve outlined a customer profile based on your existing customer base, you can use direct mail to target this type of consumer. Direct mail can enable customer acquisition in new areas or to sell new products and services. An additional component to this type of aim is variable data printing. Using digital printing capacities you can go ahead and tailor variables of your print to each individual customer.

As a business owner or marketer you know that the acquisition cost of gaining a new customer is most likely higher than eliciting a sale from an existing client. In this case, direct mail is used to connect with your existing client base about newer or larger purchases or to try new products and services. Your existing clients already have a business relationship with you, so there is no need to spend extra time creating a new one.

Keep in mind that direct mail doesn’t need to be utilized solely for sales. One powerful effect resulting from consistent direct mail usage is the development of a closer bond to the client and a decrease in the likelihood that they will cross over to your competitors. An effective way to transcend over into this category is by mailing newsletters, vouchers and event invitations to company happenings. This will add value to your brand and to your sales relationship.

Measurability is one of the best things about direct mail. Direct mail is a cost effective way to test new markets, ideas, products and services. Whichever variable it is that you’re measuring, by gauging the response you can asses and adjust your print piece and copy to a higher profit margin. Many mailers will have a drastically improved response rate from seemingly minimal changes like the envelope size or header copy.

Undoubtedly, there are many other marketing activities circulating throughout your business strategy. Direct mail is an excellent tool to integrate with other marketing activities because it blends well with other promotional tools. Consider using direct mail as invitations or follow up leads for events, to push traffic to your website or to open doors and prepare the way for personal selling.

Print has many capacities and is especially effective when paired with technology such as variable data printing and cross media. Ask your local printer how they can be a resource for you to expand your marketing knowledge and print communications effectiveness.

Posted on Jun 01, 2010.

master print article Basics of Advertising Design Strategy

Category: Advertising

advertising designMany of the most effective print advertisements have one thing in common: simplicity. The best layout includes a large picture, a bold headline and body copy about two to three columns wider than the headline. The logo or contact info should be placed in the bottom right hand corner of the print piece.  The readability of the advertisement will be jeopardized if there is too much content. Try and control the amount of graphics, photos, graphs, tables, charts, breakers and subheads; even planned white space will have a complex look and discourage people from reading further. The general rule to remember is that the mind can focus on three things at one time, so anything more than that will detract from clarity.

To solve design problems between multiple themes create unity. This can be done by having a central focus point for the eye to rest on. Another way to create unity is to have graphics support the body copy and headlines and captions to support graphics. The way that these elements interact with one another will contribute to the total value of the print piece. Also consider the theme of the piece and what it conveys. A good theme will proliferate ideas, simplify and entertain.

Next, let’s discuss visual balance. Formal balance means that elements on the right and the left are proportionately equal to one another. The danger here is that this type of balance is visually uninteresting. If you draw an imaginary line down a well designed advertisement and imagine a weight on each piece of ink, the ad will be perfectly balanced at the center line or fulcrum. However, you can always use disruption in balance in order to direct the reader’s attention towards information you want to emphasize.

Your use of contrast can also be used to emphasize key items. For example, a tall man will stand out amongst a group of short people and a red apple will be distinguishable among yellow lemons. This can be applied to sizes, lines, type styles and figures to either draw attention or even create tension. Your use of proportion will also be a highly effective tool. Setting headlines as big bold type could be useful for a phone number that you want people to respond to or a URL to enter a raffle. Important ideas or figures will indicate relativity if their size is larger, if they’re brighter, bolder and so forth.

If you are not using page to page consistency your reader will be unable to flow within an organized, cohesive structure. This is easy to achieve by ensuring that you use the same typefaces, type sizes, line spacing, border widths, vertical lines and columns. This can also be applied to white space. If your page to page flow has dramatic changes in the use of white space the reader will be confused or frustrated by having to reprocess the presentation.

Lastly, as important as design is to your print marketing piece it does not stand alone. The reality is that design does not have as big an effect on sales as the pulling power that results from factors like the customer need, the nature of the product, its benefits, features, the persuasiveness of the copy, price, availability and seller reputation.

If you are ready to begin your direct mail campaign, set up a consultation by emailing me at

Posted on May 28, 2010.

master print article Print Riddle

Category: Print

self mailer printingMarketers using direct mail have multiple mailer formats at their disposal, the most popular one being the postcard. While postcards are simple and cost effective, what do you do when you have a bit more to say and a bit more to show?

Self mailers are a great format to use as they combine the immediacy and the costs of the postcard and the carrying power of the brochure. Furthermore, with a self mailer you can cut costs by avoiding expenses for envelopes and additional print pieces. Since the message is immediately visible to the recipient you do not need to entice them to open an envelope, but you do need to hold their attention at first glance; we will look at mailer content in a moment. Generally, a self mailer can be any printed piece. Within its design is a mailing panel that allows the print product to be mailable under USPS regulations. Most marketers consider catalogs or bound booklets as a separate category from a self mailer, instead opting for foldable flat sheets in a “mailable” size.

Let’s take a look at a successful foundation of the self mailer.

You must understand the strategy behind this mailing. Self mailers are effective when your targets already have a conception of your company, your products and your services. This increases the likelihood that your recipients will be receptive to your offer. If your goal is lead generation or a detailed sales story then sending out a complete package is much more cost effective.

The next step is to understand an essential component of mailer content. The recipient’s first glance is all you’ve got, so make it count. If you are unable to answer what the key benefit of your offer is with some striking image or message that instantaneously conveys this benefit, you will loose a prospect. The second most important rule to mailer content is segregation. Break up the content on the print piece so that your information is presented in visually separated segments through the use of colored boxes, tags or bullet points. This will call out your content and make it easy to understand. Also, don’t forget brevity and getting straight to the point!

Mailer content should be composed with a logical order in mind. Have you made the most of your surface area and is it balanced to support natural eye movement? Set up the main points of your offer first and follow them up with details later. You may also design white space in a way that directs the recipient’s attention, so take the time to consider every square inch of your print piece design.

What is your response device? It is very important that you plan the recipient’s response action carefully. Determine what it is that you need your recipient to do. If your purpose is to collect standard information, an inner panel of the self mailer can be used as a perforated reply card. You can also add return postage on a mailable weight card stock. Above all ensure that the call to action is easy to understand and do. You should shoot to establish minimal effort on the respondent’s part.

Before you set out to the USPS always double check mailing requirements and regulations. If your printer offers mailing and fulfillment they will discuss with you the necessary mailer specifications. Consider that your self mailer may qualify for a letter rate or you may rack up surcharges by not fitting into size, thickness and weight regulations set by the postal service.

Posted on May 27, 2010.

master print article IPEX 2010 Highlights

Category: Technology

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Keywords: Science, Technology, printing technology, HP, IPEX IPEX 2010, Aurelio Maruggi, inkjet, IHPS, inkjet web press, T200, T300, Kodak, Prosper

Posted on May 26, 2010.

master print article The Limit to VDP is: No Limit

Category: Print

variable data invitationChannel Graphics, a multi-channel media company in China, serves many interests of the Chinese graphic arts community. With a customer target base of primarily print buyers, there was pressure for the company to invite a maximum number of decision makers to their event titled, "The 1st Branding Parade for Print Service Providers in Beijing." While the graphics company had been doing variable data printing for limited fields like the recipient's name or the company name, for this important event the invitations required some fine tuning.

A double-sided, variable data, color invitation was sent out to about 1,700 recipients. The front side of the invitation included the imagery of a welcome banner which had the lettering of the recipient's name within the content. A perforated coupon with a unique number for a chance to win Adobe CS3 software was attached to the invite along with a name badge pre-populated with the recipients’ name, title, company and draw number. On the back side of the invitation card, recipients found a fully personalized greeting, a detailed program schedule and a personalized route map. The map, which included written driving instructions, was generated through the google map function and was personalized to show the route form the recipient's office to the event venue.

Personalized address labels are very often used in China to enhance cost effectiveness and as an alternative to post cards. Channel Graphics sent out the invite in an elegant company envelope, which featured a colorful personalized address sticker. The sticker contained an image of a birthday cake with the full recipient name to peak curiosity and catch attention, while the text read "There may be an event more exciting than your birthday party."

The final result of this personalized invitation yielded record response rates of 23.7 %. The capacities of variable data technology are growing at a significant rate and enabling advertising efforts to be more creative, effective and cost efficient. If you would like to discuss your personalized printing options please email me.

Posted on May 25, 2010.

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