Our Product Family Keeps Growing

Today we launched two new products into the MagCloud family–Digest Landscape and Flyer.

Digest Landscape is compact and ultra-portable at 8.5″ wide x 5.5″ tall. It’s perfect for portfolios, brochures, catalogs, books and more.  Simply upload an 8.5″ wide x 5.5″ tall PDF and we’ll trim it down by 0.125″ on the top and bottom and 0.25″ on the outside edge to a final size of 8.25″ wide x 5.25″ tall so it’s ready for our professional printing presses.  We’ve also updated our website preview app so users will be able to preview your publication in all it’s landscape glory.

Our double-sided, single sheet Flyer product is ideal for brief messages or content that changes often such as sales promotions, menus, product data sheets, event schedules and more. Simply upload an 8.5″ wide x 11″ tall PDF and we’ll get it ready for printing by trimming it down by 0.125″ on all sides to a final size of 8.25″ wide x 10.75″ tall.  We print Flyer publications as a single sheet with a front and back side, so if you only upload one page don’t worry we’ll automatically add a blank page for the back side.  The Flyer product does require a minimum print order of 10 copies which will be bundled into one shipping order.

We hope you enjoy these new products and would love to hear how you plan to use them in our comments section below.

Attract an Audience to Your Event with Great Content

Whether you are planning a large conference, an intimate meeting for VIP customers, a quarterly gathering for club members, or an annual fundraising event, content plays a pivotal role in attracting and pleasing attendees.

Compelling speakers are the most important factor in attracting attendees to your event.  Finding speakers who are relevant, experienced and have a unique story to tell will not only drive attendees to your event, but keep them talking about it well after the event is over. You should even consider soliciting potential attendee feedback in the process of selecting keynote speakers, panelists and meeting topics.  A great example of this is the South by Southwest Panel Picker, which allows their community to vote on proposals for various speakers and panel topics, thus engaging their audience in the actual content programming of the event.

Networking is more than a handshake. Besides great speakers the other reason people attend events is to network.  As an event organizer you can help your attendees get the most out of the event by making networking easier before, during and after your event.  Use the existing social networks to get attendees talking prior to an event—event Facebook Pages or Groups, Twitter Hashtags, LinkedIn Groups etc.  Consider hosting Birds-of-a-Feather sessions or lunches where attendees can gather to informally discuss topics of mutual interest.

Attention grabbing materials.  Print and digital materials you use to promote your event—brochures, flyers, newsletters; and inform attendees while at your event—programs, daily papers, agendas etc. are an important factor in audience engagement. Events like music festivals, sporting events and business conferences are complemented well by programs that can serve as both a guide to attendees as well as used for marketing material down the road. An event program is a great way to showcase the talent you’ve organized, share the purpose of your event, promote your sponsors and acknowledge those who deserve thanks.

Here are a few of our MagCloud favorites (from MagCloud publishers as well as others) to provide some inspiration:

    • Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs published the program for their August 2011 event in San Francisco. This program does a great job of posting the packed schedule along with speaker bios and ads for local businesses (It’s clear they put a priority on great design – a top MagCloud tip!)
    • 2010 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – it’s not just about a one-week event in October. This program delves into the history of the annual Balloon Fiesta and gives details on each balloon flying at the event – it’s sort of like the “speaker bios” of the balloon festival world.
    • 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open program has a clear focus on great photography especially the shots of the individual holes (pages 50-66) not to mention beautiful integrations with their sponsors. The ads are woven into the program and don’t feel forced or out of place.
    • SXSW 2012 Event Marketing brochure is chock full of impressive stats, engaging content and gorgeous design.
    • TED Fellows 2011 Booklet gives shout outs and thank yous up front along with a brief description of the program and of course a look at each TED Fellow and the work they are up to.
    • Guide to Davos dives into the topics at hand for the 2011 Davos Conference and gives the reader a feel for the tone and sheer importance of the event. Layout is unique and could work well for an event that requires articles in their program to communicate its story.

And if you are ready to get started on materials for your next event and need a little help check out our collection of free event program and brochure templates:

Have you taken a unique approach to selecting speakers, creating networking opportunities or created killer event materials? If so please feel free to share those ideas in the comments section and tell us what kind of feedback you received from event attendees and partners.

 

Brochures that Engage and Inform

MagClouders are creating some truly attention-worthy brochures for their businesses…and it’s reaping rewards for their bottom-line. For example:

Wendy Whittemore’s Aerial Innovations Brochure mixes striking images with an eye-catching layout.

 Stanley Harmsen van der Vliet’s AML Training Center Brochure presents a lot of copy in a clean, easily-digestible format that somehow manages to offer plenty of white space and images to break up the content.

Ben Gin’s IADLEST Conference Brochure fills up every space with the retro look and feel of the conference location: Opryland in Nashville, TN.

These folks and others are creating amazing marketing pieces with MagCloud! If you’re working on a brochure project, we highly recommend you check out the work already published on MagCloud.com for inspiration.

A great brochure grabs the reader’s attention with eye catching images, great layout and of course compelling content. Here a few design and content things to keep in mind when developing your next business or event brochure.

Include stunning images, but make sure they speak to the purpose of the brochure

Maximize the white space – find a way to tell your story in fewer words and with smaller images. No one wants to read a brochure that fills every nook and cranny – it’s not very attractive to a reader.

Design within a real-life context. If your brochure is for an upcoming Harvest Festival, don’t forget to give a little nod to the season with a few Fall leaves. (Be careful, too much of a good thing is no good either – don’t go overboard).

Assume this is the first time the reader is hearing about your organization. Prominently feature the most important piece of information you want people to take away after reading the piece (product sale, mission statement, event date/location, etc.).

This is also your chance to clearly define your brand with a logo, tagline and color scheme that complement your other brand assets. In other words, make sure your brochure is consistent in design and tone with your company website, social media profiles and other printed materials.

Use persuasive language that focuses on the key differentiating factors of your product, company or event from the competition. You’re offering something unique—here’s your chance to tell the world!

Don’t forget the call to action – tell the reader what you want them to do when they’re done reading the brochure (call this number, visit a website, register online, etc.)

Bring in visuals. We’ve written about this in a previous post and recommend you take a look at our Trends and Resources for Great Looking Business Collateral for a refresher. In short, bring in images, infographics or quotes to highlight that will bring your story to life.

Be concise! Don’t try and tell your whole story within a brochure. Just remember, would YOU want to read a long brochure?

Let us know if you have any other tips for creating brochures. Or, post a link to a great brochure that inspires you in the comments section below.

New Brochure Template for Adobe InDesign

Need a little help getting started creating your next brochure?  We have added a new brochure template to our free template collection.

This four page template is for Adobe InDesign users and is perfect for product or service brochures.  We’ve created a sample publication using this template to show you how easy it is to make a great looking brochure that is MagCloud-ready.

If you are new to using Adobe InDesign to create MagCloud-ready publications make sure to download our Adobe InDesign Getting Started Guide for tips on settings for trim, bleeds, image resolution and more.

Let us know what you think of the new template in our comments section below.

Put MagCloud to Work: Publish a Business Brochure

A wise person once said ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. In fact, it just takes a few seconds or a cursory glance for a person to make a judgment about us. Our subsequent actions, behavior and professionalism may change that perception slightly, but not to a great extent.

So it stands to reason that how you portray your business to prospective clients is almost as important as how you do business.

Whether you are a fashion designer, a multi-media training company, an industry consultant, a yoga studio, or a niche photographer, putting your brand out there in a professional manner is extremely important.

One could argue that a brochure is just as important as your business card. It is an important marketing and sales tool, one in which you can do a little bragging and shamelessly present your business in the most positive light. It is your opportunity to create a lasting impression, so be sure that it is a good one.

Whether you are a company with a staff of 2, 20 or 20,000, MagCloud is a great tool for affordably publishing and distributing your brochures in a professional format. Our full-color, full-bleed print options in both standard and digest trim sizes give you the choice to create a robust brochure of multiple pages, or something simple and portable, like a four-paged digest handout. Digital distribution options also make it easy to share your brochure digitally to a desktop, laptop, the iPad, or other mobile device.

MagCloud’s ship-to-group feature makes it easy to drop-ship seasonal information or annual brochures to your clients around the world. Or, if you are a small business, its on-demand functionality means that you can distribute individual copies as needed to interested clients, allowing you to maintain a professional appearance without exceeding a limited budget.

Once you have these great logistics and beautiful print quality, the only thing holding you back is content, and design. Here are a few tips for gathering the content you should include in your brochures, and how to effectively assemble it into a professional-looking publication.

Getting Started:

Who are you talking to?

The first thing you need to know is what you want your brochure to accomplish. That ties directly into the target audience and what the message of the brochure will be. Identify your target audience and speak directly to them. Never try to address everyone. Once you know who your audience is, it will be easier to target your messaging and articulate that your product or service is a solution to their needs.

What is your message?

Always include a meaningful headline. Your headline should clearly communicate your main point so that even if the reader reads nothing else, they will understand what you are about.

Tell the whole story in your writing. Be concise, but remember to write your body copy in plain English. Don’t use jargon or industry lingo, instead pretend you’re explaining your message to a friend.

It’s helpful to use succinct, pithy copy. Avoid long sentences. Keep your message to the point. Use subheadings liberally, as they break up long copy and help draw a reader through the text. Ideally, a reader should be able to get a good grasp of your message by reading only the headings and subheadings.

Designing Your Brochure: 

When all of your information is gathered and your writing is done, you can finally get down to the business of designing. You’ll want take into account the basic elements of good design – organization, consistent styling, balance, color, and so on.

Lay out your brochure cleanly and professionally. The design should draw the reader in and ease the process of reading. Remember that erring on the simple side will be easier for your consumer than an over-designed, distracting or hard-to-read brochure.

It’s great to use graphics to provide balance with text, but be sure they are relevant to your content. Use graphics that grab your reader’s attention and underline your message. Whether it’s a picture, logo, or stock image, just be sure it relates to your message and brand.

As with any design there are some things you’ll want to avoid. These include:

  • Avoid over-used typefaces, such as Arial and Helvetica. Read more in our recent blog post.
  • For content type, keep the point size under 12.
  • Don’t use more than three type faces in a brochure.
  • Generally don’t use more than one alignment.

If you feel lost…

Starting from scratch on a brochure can be challenging. Some great resources for design inspiration can come from other designs. Try searching the web for brochures in your industry and see how your design stacks up against the competition. You don’t want to copy someone else’s design, but it’s a great way to get inspired.

Also check out the stock templates available within most design and word-processing software. If you aren’t a super-savvy designer using InDesign or Quark, you’ll be amazed what you can do with Apple iWork Pages, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Publisher. For those who are confident in their skills with the software, but looking to get a more professional look, you can also investigate altering templates from Stocklayouts or Inkd, just be sure you are ready to tweak these designs as they are not all perfectly sized for output through MagCloud.

Have you published your company’s brochure through MagCloud, or found other great resources for inspiration and design? Please share them in the comments below.

Trends and Resources For Great Looking Business Collateral

How you tell your business story can be the difference between turning a lead into a new customer or just a lost opportunity.

Eye catching and compelling business collateral plays an important role in buying decisions.  According to Eccolo Media’s “2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report,” 83% of B2B technology purchasers say they had used brochures within the previous six months to evaluate a prospective purchase, 76% referred to white papers, followed by 67% who used case studies.

And great collateral isn’t just for big business, heavy investment in marketing collateral is also a key 2011 trend for Small Business as well.

So how do you create business collateral that stands out and gets your audience engaged?

1. Tell A Story.  Stories intrigue, keep our interest and help us convey information in an engaging way.  Conveying your brand promise or promoting your new product or service as a narrative helps your audience understand the possibility and gives them a call to action to learn more.  Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, offers some great insight into storytelling for business.

2. Bring Your Story To Life.  A story is more than words. You can use pictures, graphs, tables, screen shots, pull quotes from customers etc. − anything that will help visually convey your story, and underscore your viewpoint and competitive advantage.  There is a plethora of free tools to make creating charts and diagrams super easy.  If you want to push your story to a new visual level consider designing and incorporating infographics.  Infographics have been heavily used by B2C and B2B companies in the past few years to help convey complex information and trends.  Check out the Cool Infographics Blog, Weloveinfographics or Datavis for some infographic inspiration.

3. Invest in Design.  You don’t have to break your business piggy bank to design great looking collateral.  There are lots of desktop publishing applications that make brochure, newsletter, program and catalog design easy. Depending on your skill level and budget there is a spectrum of solutions including Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXPress, Apple Pages and Adobe InDesign.  Most of these programs also include templates or you can check out some of MagCloud’s free business templates as well.

4. Ask for Help.  If you are having trouble getting started there are lots of tutorials and resources to put you on the right path.  Microsoft for example offers a suite of tutorials for Publisher, there are forums for Adobe InDesign or head on over to Lynda.com for an array of business and software online courses. Or you can always consider outsourcing your business collateral design to a third-party or agency such as MagCloud partners HP Logoworks or Madison Ave. Collective.

5. Leverage the Web.  Printing and updating your business collateral no longer needs to be complex, time-consuming and expensive.  Thanks to new print on demand services like MagCloud you can upload a PDF of your collateral and have it printed and delivered to your customers without ever leaving your desk.  Need to change a product spec in your brochure or add a new offering to your catalog? No problem, simply upload a new version of your PDF.  The web also offers you the flexibility to take the same PDF you use for print and make it available digitally for reading on a PC or mobile device giving your audience choice.  Once you have your printed or digital publication ready, it’s easy to build an online marketing plan around it.  Make your content readily accessible and easy to share not only via your website but wherever your audience would be most receptive to your message–social networks, forums, blogs etc.  You spent all that time and effort creating it so don’t forget to make it easy to find.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great looking brochures, newsletters, event programs and catalogs published on MagCloud, so we thought we would share a few of our favorites to help inspire you.

Axses Travel Platform

Cubic Machinery

High Points Promotional

Natural Homes

Overland Sourcebook

Toobydoo

Share any great resources or tips you’ve found useful in creating your business collateral in the comments section below.

It’s All About the Wordplay: 6 Typeface dos and don’ts

We’ve all seen over-designed documents that at times make us cringe.

Most often the offending design element is an extreme font choice, or font overload with too many fonts used throughout the document. Poor typeface choices can make a document hard to read or unprofessional looking. So, if you are looking to keep a professional look, without compromising personality, it’s important to select the right fonts for your publication. And while there aren’t any hard/fast rules for selecting fonts, here are a few guidelines that we think may help you on your way.

1. Follow the Rule of 3
The only quantitative rule for design is the “Rule of 3.” When you start tweaking the fonts of your document, be sure to apply no more than three typefaces per design (or page). That’s not to say that you can’t use multiple styles within a font family (i.e. Neutra Bold for headlines and Neutra Thin for photo credits), just be mindful of not mixing too many typefaces and styles–fight the temptation to blend Impact, Courier, Lucinda and Trebuchet in the same document. While there might be a few exceptions to this rule, it’s a good sanity check, to ensure that you don’t go overboard and over-complicate your design. And as a good rule of thumb, you should probably just avoid Papyrus and Comic Sans. Always. Just take our word for it.

2. Choose a fitting font for your audience.
Be sure to choose a font that matches the tone and audience of your document. For example, Matt Mattus’ Plant Society a gardening blogazine has a different readership and “feel” than this corporate report. Both of these documents are well tailored to their target audience. Something like a gardening magazine might use a more fun and light serif font, whereas the business would find it more appropriate to use a more structured sans-serif font.

If all of this is sounding French to you, that’s because it is! In typography, serifs are the sometimes curly details (they look a bit like feet) on the ends of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface and a typeface without serifs is called sans-serif, from the French word sans, meaning “without.”

But enough with the French lesson, let’s take a look at some examples:

3. Avoid hard to read fonts.
Some decorative fonts are designed to only be used for headlines or even just drop caps. Be sure when you select a fancy or script font, that you use it sparingly, and that you can still read it. If you can’t read the type, you can be sure your audience won’t bother to try. Also avoid WordArt, which while fun to play with, is very difficult to read.

4. Use contrasting text for headlines and body text.
It’s important to define the segments of your document, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces so your reader is inclined to read it in its entirety. One way that you can do this is by clearly identifying headlines from your body paragraphs. For example, you might use a bold sans-serif heading font with a plain serif body text font. You generally don’t want to mix two similar typefaces as they won’t provide enough contrast.

5. Eliminate excessive emphasis in your text.
You should be able to emphasize the words without excessive use of bold, italic or underlines. As you are designing, zoom out and look at the page from a distance. If your text is littered with tons of bold segments, italics and underlines, you might want to rethink what you’re doing.

6. Be consistent.
Consistency is key to building a brand style, or just having a stronger, more professional-appearing message. If your headings are set in a particular font, size and color, don’t switch it midway through a document, unless you have a good reason for it. The best way to maintain consistency through a multipage document, or from document to document, is to set style sheets.

Each software program handles style sheets differently, so if you aren’t sure how to use them you may want to visit your software developer’s help section for a tutorial. Time spent learning how to use style sheets will be a great investment for your future designs.

Just remember to keep it simple.
When all is said and done, the important thing to remember is to keep it simple. And simple doesn’t have to mean boring, but instead discerning–keeping an editor’s eye on your design and font selections, so that your message doesn’t get lost in your design.

Do you have more typography suggestions? Share them below in the comments!