We frequently print mailings here at the shop, and that means envelopes.
We get out a box, run them through the Xerox, and out they come, the address printed and ready to be stuffed for mailing!
But perhaps you’re new to print-buying and aren’t sure which type of envelope is right for your job. Maybe you want a generic sort of envelope in which you can send bills and business correspondence in.
Or it could be that you’re looking for a special envelope in which to send out invitations to your company’s annual dinner or Christmas party.
Whatever type of envelope you’re looking for, we can be sure to help you find it. Different types of envelopes work better for different types of correspondence, but here are some of the most common.
For standard business mailings, the white #10 envelope is the go-to choice for many of our customers.
It’s ideal for sending out memos, notices, bills, remittances, and more. We provide our #10 envelopes with or without the window.
For special occasions, such as invitations, thank-you notes, and more personal communications, we recommend the A-2.
With a square flap and a neat, compact design, the A-2 is just what you need to send letters, invitations, and RSVPs. It’s perfect for stuffing a card or letter inside.
I happen to use A-2 envelopes to send out the shop’s thank-you notes in. We put the Renton Printery’s logo and return address on the front, leaving room to write in the recipient’s address. It works wonderfully!
If you ever need any help picking out an envelope for your mailing job, you can always ask us at the shop. Whether its internal mail, billing, or event invites, we’ll be glad to assist you in picking out just the right type of envelope for your order. Remember, at the Renton Printery, we’re printing for you!
(Image credit: "Pile of junk mail from the Netherlands" by Judith E. Bell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
A frequent source of frustration for our design and pre-press team here are the shop is incorrect file preparation.
Often we find ourselves working with a file submitted for a job that won’t work with our printers. It gets worse if there are no bleeds on the file, or if it’s not formatted in CMYK. Sometimes it’s not even sent as a PDF!
Such things are aggravating both for us and our customers, who both just want to get the job done on time. These steps for preparing files for your printer will minimize frustration for all parties involved.
Hundreds of man-hours have been wasted (both for us and our customers) due to a file being submitted by a customer in Word or Publisher, when if should have been submitted as a PDF. Word and Publisher will not save fonts into the documents, so if you have any fun and interesting fonts it most likely won’t get to us.
The solution then is to submit files as PDFs. We ask our customers to design their files in a program such as Photoshop or InDesign, convert their files to PDF, and then submit those files to us. If you don’t have access to these Adobe programs just save your files as PDFs from whatever program you are using.
Another problem we frequently face here at the shop is a lack of bleeds on files. Bleeds are the extra space added to the edge of a file that will be cut off during production. There needs to be a buffer zone so no valuable information is cut off. For example, a letter size sheet (8.5x11) would need bleeds of 8.625x11.125. See the illustration below:
Bleeds are required on all documents that do not have all-white borders. Very rarely is there a job which does not require bleeds. Therefore, we kindly ask our customers to always include bleeds when designing their products.
The minimum bleeds space is .125 inches for paper products, but 0.5 inches for banners and signs.
Another important step that must be remembered (but is often forgotten) is formatting the file in CMYK. Kristin wrote a post on CMYK a few weeks back, so in case you want to get up-to-speed on that, please check that out. In the meantime, please remember that if your file has images or color in it, and it’s not in CMYK, we will not be able to print it correctly.
We hope that this brief guide will be of use to you. As a quick review remember to design your file in the correct program, submit it as a PDF, include bleeds on the file, and to make sure the file is formatted in CMYK. A good designer should be able to do all of these things for you. If you need assistance with any of your projects, we are more than happy to help for a setup fee.
And as always, be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions!
Early on in my career at the Renton Printery, my boss told me about the importance of SWAG.
““What’s ‘SWAG?’” you ask? According to my boss, SWAG stands for “Stuff We All Get.”
You collect a great amount of it whenever you go to a trade show or business expo where the booths hand out free stuff to those attending.
Handing out SWAG is not only a great way to increase brand loyalty, but it is also reminds people in a fun way that your business exists.
What type of SWAG is best for your business depends on what sort of business you run. But SWAG is important to all businesses who want to establish a strong following of loyal customers.
SWAG can be anything from pens, notepads, and bumper stickers to refrigerator magnets, tote bags, and key chains.
Two features define SWAG:
For example, whenever we go to a trade show, my boss and I always make sure to bring free football schedule refrigerator magnets, free window decals, free notepads, and so forth.
But why must your business flood the market with (more) cheap junk? You’d think that people have had enough of these things already!
The truth is that people can never get enough of this stuff. The power of free is never to be underestimated. You never know who might want your company’s branded tote-bag when they see it offered at your booth.
Maybe this person wants to re-gift it her friend whose shopping bag is to getting old and worn.
Maybe someone else has a proud tote-bag collection and is eager to add more to it. I have at least two such bags, and I cherish them dearly.
The power of “free” combined with the psychology of gift-giving endears people to your business. They associate the value of what they received with the giver.
For instance, low quality SWAG leads people to think of the giver as a source of low quality goods or services, never mind what their actual product is.
By contrast, useful, cool, or fun SWAG, like my trusty green tote-bag, is a reminder that this company helped you.
To put it another way, the moment you think of a product you need or want, and you know that the person who provided your prized SWAG is looking to sell you that product, who’s the first person you’re going to call
Now that you’ve been convinced of the power of SWAG, gentle reader, you might be asking, “Well, that’s all well and good, but what kind of junk— err, I mean SWAG, should I give out?”
As stated, the Renton Printery gives out notepads, window decals, and magnets, but what about your business? It all depends on what kind of business you run and the customers you want to attract.
If you’re a bank, for instance, you want to provide SWAG that is useful, like my tote-bag, and therefore makes the recipient believe that the services of that bank are also useful.
If you’re a B2B commercial printer, like us, then you want to provide SWAG that communicates the soundness of your product and that might be used by someone who spends a lot of time jotting down notes. Hence, our notepads!
SWAG is a staple of marketing, and has helped our sales efforts here at the shop greatly. Pens, notepads, and magnets are like candy to customers. They’ll eat up your free stuff and might later feed you business.
A strong knowledge of your products and customers combined with a little creative will help you utilize this tactic to the greatest degree. If you understand these two things, you will know just what sort of SWAG to use!
We at the shop are intensely invested in our community. We frequently attend chamber functions, neighborhood events, and business expos.
Concerning the last of these, I’ve often found myself missing something important at a business expo or a chamber function. My dad, being more experienced and organized, is less likely to forget anything.
1.) Business cards
I cannot remember how many times I have gone to chamber function and forgot to bring business cards. It led to many awkward moments and fizzled opportunities.
You should never let yourself fall into that kind of situation. Business cards, even in today’s wired world, are a vital tool for networking. Everything you need to know about a prospect can be summed up on a three-inch long piece of cardstock.
I always make sure to carry some business cards in my pocket, another bunch in my wallet, and another bunch in the box full of the other stuff you bring to an expo.
You should always have some kind of brochure or pamphlet that you can give to visitors at your booth. It gives more info than a business card but is also a great way to plant the seed of interest in case someone decides they want to learn more.
Small, tri-fold brochures are generally the best. Big, 8.5x11 brochures are inconvenient to carry around, especially if your potential customer doesn’t have a complimentary tote-bag from some other booth. Better to play it safe and stay small. That alone could pay big dividends.
3.) A Banner
You need to make your table stand out from across a crowded exposition hall. The best way to do that is to have a big banner behind your booth, proudly proclaiming your company’s name, tagline, and website in big letters that are visible from a far off distance.
While the nitty-gritty of designing your banner is a different subject, here’s a pro-tip: Make sure that whatever information you put on your banner isn’t going to change any time soon, like numbers or dates. That way you can recycle your banner for future occasions.
Doubtless there are dozens more things that you could bring to a business expo (just look at the picture above!), but that's for another day. Until then, forget these things at your own peril!
Bonus Tip: Banners are also good to have in the background when you take a picture of the people manning the booth. We did exactly this for a Maple Valley trade show several years ago, before posting the above picture on our Facebook page for #ThrowbackThursday. Score!
A sort of side-hobby I have is collecting business cards. I’ve seen good cards, I’ve seen bad cards, and I’ve seen just plain ugly cards. I’m not a graphic designer, but I do know what looks good.
Whenever I receive a business card, I immediately look for five items. If your business card is missing any of them, then you’re in a heap of trouble.
(Note: I take it as given that your business card has your company’s name or logo on it. If not, back to the drawing board. If yes, good, but don’t rely in it and it alone. See Item 2.)
1.) Your Name
The main problem with this item isn’t that a lot of people don’t include it. The problem is that people often put their name in a place on their card where the eye has difficulty finding it.
I’ve seen people put their name in the middle of a bunch of text and contact information in very small print. A less common mistake is to hide it away in an odd spot like the upper-right-hand corner. Rarely do people not include it at all.
The best business cards have the name in the center, accompanied by a title. That’s a rule of thumb, but a rule nonetheless.
2.) Your Website
Always include a website. If you don’t have a website, you’ll need to get one.
I once ran across this beautifully designed company business card. It had rounded corners, with printing on the front and back. Plus, the cardstock felt perfect.
But it lacked the key to success in today’s wired world: A website.
How am I supposed to find out more if I don’t have the company’s website? Where can I find more information about the company that has this awesome business card? What does the company even do?
(By the way, your business card should give the recipient the ability to find out the answers to all of these questions.)
3.) Your Email
Phone calls depend on both people being near their phone at once. Meetings require a lot of logistical gymnastics and there are plenty of people who say that most of them are a waste of time.
Emails are different, especially with the dawn of the smartphone. You can check your email while you’re on your coffee break, or right when you wake up.
Email is the most widely used form of business communication. Include it.
4.) Your Phone Number
Remember what I said about phones calls being inferior to email? Yeah… about that.
Email is great, but even the most digitally savvy businessmen (and women!) run into the problem of email backlog. My boss gets this problem all the time with his email, and I too am slowly succumbing to the same disease.
In light of all that, phone calls are usually the best option for making initial contact. Emails are better for follow up.
The idea is that if you give people your business card with both your email and your phone number, they’ll call you on the phone, after which you will judge them worthy to correspond with by email.
As for where to include it, that brings us to…
5.) Your Business Mailing Address
A lot of people put this item in a cluster of contact info along with their website, email and phone number near the bottom of the card. That works some times, but I’ve seen it done more creatively.
Ideally, people will go to your website and get your mailing address there. However, depending on what kind of business you’re running, it can’t hurt to have a mailing address of some kind.
For example, if you work for a company that does projects involving warehouses and shipping, you might need an address for your corporate office.
Even if you’re a smaller company, you’ll definitely need an address so your potential customer can easily find you out in the wild blue yonder.
The trick to making good business cards is to make it easy for the recipient to contact you in the simplest way possible. That way you can do business with them with minimal hassle and frustration.
Finally, never, ever, ever, ever forget to work bleeds into your card. Ever.
This post was written by Kristin Thornton, our shop’s graphic designer. In this post, Kristin explains what CMYK is, and why it matters to both us and our customers. – L.S.
In elementary school we all learned the basics of mixing primary colors by finger painting using the base primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.
When you mix red and yellow, you get orange. When you mix yellow and blue, you get green.
If you’re like my six-year-old daughter, you mix them all together to make it a big brown-black mess.
In the print world, we start out with cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The four-color process uses the color space known as CMYK. (I guess they didn’t want to use “B” for “black” because people may mistake it for “blue.”)
The four colors are combined, one layer at a time in multiple runs, to create the desired colors. Just like painting, if we mix the ink in a specific order we get varied outcomes of color.
Above is a colored image separated into cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and black (K). When combined, they make the finished flower on the right.
When dealing with photos and sending them to us for printing, it is best to have them converted to CMYK. If you need assistance transferring your photos to CMYK, we can do so if you send them to us with the details of your project needs.
One customer was pleased when they brought in a personal photo to add to their business card. I was able to transfer it to CMYK and adjust the image so that their face would look good on their business cards.
(Please note that most pictures taken with cameras and cell phones will use the format of Red, Green, Blue, or RGB.)
In a future post, I will explain a bit more about why RGB and CMYK look different.
This post could not have come at a more timely date. I had been meaning to write a post about how a desk with all sorts of junk on it couldn’t be good for the mind, when something incredible happened.
When I entered my office this afternoon, the desk, and the office, were clean.
As you can see from the above picture, the desk is largely free of clutter. Just last Friday there were notes and papers strewn across the surface of the desk, almost entirely obscuring the calendar that sat on there.
The notepads and sticky-note blocks were not organized in a neat stack as they are now, but were placed in any place where they could fit. It is a marked and improved contrast.
The reason for this newfound tidiness? My father, having been meaning to do so for a long time, finally cleaned up the office. It doubles as the accounting office, where it was previously used by my dear grandmother. I began using it mere weeks ago. My father knew exactly what needed to be done.
There are two lessons here: First, cleaning your desk regularly will help you to feel refreshed at your desk job. That’s how it felt for me!
Second, having a boss who cares about his workplace being clean and neat is incredibly gratifying. Not only does it show that he cares, but it motivates his employees to care too.
So thank you, dad, for teaching me to keep my desk clean!
In the brave new world of social media, content marketing, and the internet, the pressure is constantly on to keep things fast and new.
“The old order is eroding away!” I’ve heard it said. “Old business tactics won’t work like they did in the past!” others proclaim. “Adapt or die!”
I actually once said that last line to my boss, who is also my dad. We were discussing our use of Facebook at the time. I’ve been given a lot of free reign with my marketing efforts here at the shop, just so long as I don’t forget my other duties.
One afternoon, however, I was desperately searching for some Renton Printery stationary, when I stumbled across a book. An incredibly old book.
In case you can’t see it in the picture, it is titled: “The Office Encyclopedia: A How-To-Do-It Manual of Modern Business Procedures.” Credit is given as, “Compiled and Edited by N. H. and S. K. Mager.”
Flipping through the book, I found that its initial printing was in 1955, this copy being the ninth edition, published in 1971. Wow. Forty-five years old as of this previous April.
I examined the table of contents, finding chapter headings such as “Basic Grammar” and “Stenographer’s Handbook” and “Telegrams, Cables, Etc.”, with subheadings such as “Principal Parts of Verbs” and “How to fasten the typewriter to the desk” and “Singing telegrams.”
Pretty wacky sounding stuff, right?
But looking through this little book, precisely 500 pages long, I realized that there’s plenty of useful information here. Some of the technical information concerning typewriters and telegrams may be out of date, but that’s not all it has to offer.
As mentioned, there’s a chapter on grammar, part of a three-chapter section titled, “Office English Handbook.” Plenty of people my age could stand to read that.
You might notice in this blog post that I’ve affect a more formal air, a result of reading a few pages of that opening section every day for the last few days. We’ll see where it brings us.
To get to the point, I am convinced that within this old book lays much useful information relevant to today’s business practices.
At the very least, I’d love to read what this little tome has to say in the chapter titled, “Advertising and Publicity.”
More to come.
You’ve probably never expected to read a blog about printing. I don’t know, maybe you have, maybe you haven’t.
But I work in a print shop, and such a thing has never occurred to me. Until now, that is.
Of course, now I’ve decided to read every blog about printing I can find, now that I’m officially the Chief Gruntwork Officer (and Marketing Guy).
What little I’ve found is so far quite enlightening. Indeed, the less you know, the more you think you know. I’m fairly certain the opposite is also true.
You probably know me, if you know me at all, as that random guy darting around in the background desperately trying to look busy while my father, Rich Sweeney, tries to work out the particulars of the printing you wanted done.
If you’re one of the few, unlucky souls who walked into the shop while my dad was out and about and I was manning the desk, you know me as someone else.
You know me as the guy who mumbled politely, tried to sound like he knew what he was doing, and was unable to help you in anyway whatsoever because he honestly doesn’t know a darn thing about production or quotes or cardstock. He barely knows enough jargon to sound even barely competent.
Well, guess what? That guy, yours truly, is now in charge of marketing at the Renton Printery!
I am the guy who, despite being practically raised in the shop, has no idea how to do anything remotely useful other than play on the internet for a few hours a day.
This means that I now have the pleasure of bumbling and mumbling my way through every networking function, social media exchange, and business card trade-off that anyone wishing (or not wishing) to associate with the Renton Printery will be forced to endure... or else!
Also, I write this blog.
Man, this is going to be a blast!
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing advice on print-buying and business, along with notes on the state of the shop.