In an era where digital marketing is king, it can be all-too easy to overlook the efficacy of the humble print ad. Nonetheless, print advertising copy can still be highly effective in engaging your target audience on their home turf. Whether it’s a poster they see as they get off the train, a roller banner they notice when they walk past your physical premises or a leaflet dropped through their letterbox, it can be a highly effective way of promoting brand awareness. It can engage your target demographic groups in areas that are harder to reach in the digital realm.
Print copy is harder to avoid than, say, a digital pop up. Viewers don’t get to dismiss it with a simple tap of a finger. This means that your printed advertising copy has a much broader window in which you can engage the viewer’s attention and make your voice heard.
Yet, while print advertising copy certainly can be effective, that doesn’t mean that it is effective by default. Even seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals with outstanding marketing credentials can find themselves making schoolboy errors. If you’re primarily used to digital marketing, you may fall prey to some of these classic print mistakes which must be avoided at all costs…
Check, check and check again!
Digital advertising copy is easy to amend, substitute or replace. If you’ve overlooked a typo or something has gone wrong in the artwork, that’s cool. You can replace it in literally seconds. Those who use print copy have no such luxury. Errors in printed copy can be expensive and logistically nightmarish to correct.
Thus, if you know in your heart of heart that proofreading isn’t your strongest suit, it behoves you to check, check and check again, every time you make an alteration to your copy. Oh and, save your work frequently. It’s not an issue that’s exclusive to print advertising, but it’s important nonetheless.
The size of your medium is an extremely important consideration that will affect all of your creative and logistical decisions when it comes to composing your copy. You should aim to create unique copy that is tailored to the size, dimensions, texture and finish of your print medium. Trying to use the same artwork for everything from double sided roller banners to leaflets is a risky strategy that could undermine the potency of your message.
If your campaign will span multiple print media, it behoves you to check your page sizes before you upload your artwork to your chosen print company or reprographics department. Ensure that your text or and key images graphics are not too close to the edge.
Tell me… Do you check your bleed?
You will! Or at least… You should. Uploading artwork without the correct bleed is an extremely common print mistake which is most commonly made by those who are unaccustomed to composing artwork for print purposes. Unlike digital copy, printed copy needs to account that there’s always a tiny amount of movement that occurs whenever the paper (or other print medium) travels through the press. As such, if your artwork extends only to the boundaries of the document’s edges you may wind up with a tiny white border around your artwork. This can cheapen and undermine your message and be a logistical problem to remove.
As such, images that go right to the edge of the trimmed page must “bleed off” the edge of the artwork. Obviously, this shouldn’t contain important images or text, but it should ensure that the body of your artwork extends beyond the boundaries of the document.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to waste time and effort composing a lot of artwork that won’t get printed. A 3mm bleed is usually enough to avoid a fine white line around the border of the printed page.
Check your colours!
Colours are an intrinsic part of your message. The nuances of colour and the interplay between different colours within your artwork have a huge impact on the efficacy of your advertising copy. The human eye is usually drawn to bold, vivid colours. It’s how we’ve learned to choose the ripest fruits and freshest vegetables. It’s also how we’ve learned to spot dangerous snakes, spiders and reptiles. Thus, the right colours are essential for artwork that captures the viewer’s attention.
What’s more, the subtleties of your choice in colour have no doubt been chosen to be harmonious with your branding and create copy which is consistent with your brand identity. However, if you’re primarily accustomed to creating digital copy, you may make the mistake of not switching your colours to CMYK rather than RGB. RGB colours use the primary colours of light, not ink to create the nuances of colour your artwork needs. Fail to switch to CMYK, the primary colours of ink, and you’ll find that your colours come out muted or just plain wrong.
Before you export your artwork to a PDF for print, be sure to ensure that all colours are in CMYK. This can be done after, but won’t guarantee colour fidelity to your original artwork.
Watch that resolution!
Printed copy needs to be much higher in resolution in order to look crisp and vivid once it goes to print. It may look absolutely wonderful on screen, but if your resolution is low when it goes to print, you’ll find that it doesn’t bear scrutiny nearly as well as it did on the screen.
Check that your resolution is at least 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch) before it goes to print and you’ll ensure complete fidelity in print to what you see on your screen.
Get a second pair of eyes on it
No matter how many times you check and proofread your copy, you may find that some mistakes slip through the net. This is because you are so familiar with the copy that your brain can subconsciously fill in some gaps on your behalf.
With this in mind, it may be helpful to get someone you trust to cast a fresh pair of eyes over your copy and ensure that it is well and truly ready to go to print.
When you’ve taken steps to guard against these common mistakes, you have a firm foundation upon which you can build effective copy.
If you enjoyed reading this article, checkout out print tips – get your artwork right the first time.