Print and Digital: A Winning Combination

Print vs. digital has long been hotly debated. Recently, we’ve seen several experts weighing in on the topic, arguing that print and digital can coexist and will in fact strengthen a brand when used together. Of course, we’ve always known this at HP MagCloud (check out our Jan. 5 blog post), and we are thrilled when other people realize it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. The challenge is finding the right medium to use to tell your unique story, so that it’s heard and understood by your audience.

So what are people saying? Novelist Dave Eggers in the Guardian said, “It’s our admittedly unorthodox opinion that the two can co-exist, and in fact should co-exist. … But they need to do different things. To survive, the newspaper, and the physical book, needs to set itself apart from the web. Physical forms of the written word need to offer a clear and different experience. And if they do, we believe, they will survive.”

When should you choose digital? “For news, facts and information, let’s tell stories as they unfold: a tweet here, an update there, a database, a video clip, a timeline, a slideshow, a conversation, a list. Let’s master the tools of digital storytelling and learn to match our tools and techniques to the circumstances,” stated digital guru Steve Buttry on Poynter.org.

What about print? “Let’s respect the pure, traditional story – the narrative string of paragraphs – by reserving that form for real stories,” Buttry added.

We’re fortunate to live in a world where we have both options.

In telling your story, you’ll want to rise above the chatter. It’s a good idea to participate in the online conversation by using Facebook, Twitter, email newsletters and more to share what’s happening in the moment. You’re demonstrating your knowledge about your industry and connecting in a more immediate way with your audience.

Meanwhile, a print publication showcases your photographs and carefully crafted story to an audience who wants to linger over and slowly digest your content. No matter how great digital content is, readers can stash magazines in their purses, dog-ear the pages and tear out their favorite articles. Quoting The Economist (June 9 issue): “As long as there are coffee tables, people will want things to put on them.” The high quality of print makes you proud to display your work to clients, and likewise, your clients will be happy to share your magazine with people they bump into.

HP MagCloud provides both print and digital offerings because different stories beg to be told in different ways. Plus, you might reach new readers who prefer to read content on their iPad or smartphone. We realize there is much to consider, and one of the main deterrents of print is the expense and complexity. With HP MagCloud, it costs only 20 cents per page for Standard and Square products, there are no upfront costs and everything can be done via our website with a few clicks of the mouse. So a small business on a tight budget can afford to self-publish their content.

For a small business, blending print and digital elements into your marketing is a win-win. Does your business plan include both digital and print? If not, here’s your chance to consider both.

How to Use MagCloud for Your Tutoring Business

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at various ways teachers and professors can use MagCloud to help their students get ahead in the classroom. Outside of school, MagCloud’s print on demand and digital publishing tools can also be a great resource for professional tutors, for everything from personalized study aids for their pupils, to marketing their business with promotional brochures and flyers.

Tutoring Aids

Whether you are tutoring a student in a subject one-on-one, or offering test preparation to a larger group, MagCloud can be a great resource for printing up workbooks and study guides that are tailored to the needs of your students. With no minimum order quantity required, MagCloud lets you print as few as one copy, making it easy for you to create personalized study aids tailored to your students’ needs both in and out of your tutoring sessions. For example, if you are helping a student prepare for the SAT, you could use MagCloud to provide your pupil with a printed workbook of practice questions that he or she can complete as homework, a digital reference guide of common mathematical formulas that can be viewed in PDF format, and a pocket review book with common vocabulary words and definitions, all tailored to the areas of the test where they need the most help. You can create these documents using any program that can export a PDF file, and easily update them for new students by uploading a new version of the PDF to the MagCloud website.

To get started, check out the step-by-step instructions offered in the MagCloud PDF Guides, and browse through our product specs on the new product pages.

Marketing Tools

In addition to publishing print and digital publications for your students, you can also use MagCloud as a marketing tool for your tutoring business. Our Pamphlet product is perfect for making brochures that include testimonials from past students, the range of services you offer, and your contact information. Similarly, our single-sheet Flyer product is great for creating price lists or highlighting your services in a more compact format. MagCloud’s print on demand capabilities mean you can order copies of your brochure or price list as you need them, in smaller quantities that traditional printing requires. You can even direct mail copies of your brochure to an address list of potential clients using MagCloud’s Ship to Group feature, or offer all of your marketing materials in a digital format through your MagCloud storefront for potential clients to view as a PDF. If at any point you want to add a testimonial or update your pricing, you can do so simply by uploading a new PDF to the MagCloud website.

If you need help getting started with a brochure or price sheet for your tutoring business, or are looking for some inspiration, check out our past blog posts about brochures and flyers for additional tips and templates.

Are you a tutor who has used MagCloud as a resource for your business? Let us know how in the comments below!

Using MagCloud as a Sales Tool for Your Real Estate Business

In addition to using MagCloud to market their real estate business, a number of real estate agents have been using MagCloud as a sales tool. MagCloud’s print on demand capabilities allow real estate agents to order informational flyers for their open houses in smaller quantities, only as they need them, reducing waste and storage costs. Agents have taken advantage of MagCloud’s Ship to Group feature to easily mail copies of their listing catalog to an address list of potential buyers with a single order. The added benefit of MagCloud’s digital distribution means real estate agents can get these flyers and catalogs in front of potential buyers across all formats, whether it’s in print, as a downloadable PDF, or on the iPad. And if the price of a listing should change or photos need to be switched out, it’s as simple as uploading a new PDF file to immediately update both print and digital collateral.

Beyond the traditional flyers and catalogs used as sales tools in the real estate industry, MagCloud’s combination of professional print quality and no minimum order volume offers real estate agents the opportunity to experiment with to market their listings without breaking their budget. For example, if you are trying to sell a condo with a breathtaking view you could give buyers the opportunity to see what the view looks like at different points during the day by creating a time-lapse photo flipbook using the MagCloud Digest Landscape product. By taking photos at regular intervals from the same spot over the course of the day, then placing one photo per page in a MagCloud publication, potential buyers attending an open house will be able to look at individual pages in the printed book to see how the view looks at different times during the day, or can flip through the booklet all at once to watch the view change over time. Highlighting a key feature like this can be a great sales tool, and using MagCloud will allow the piece to be professional and affordable even if you just a need a couple of copies.

Alternatively, let’s say you have a listing for a single-family home in a neighborhood that has a lot to offer in terms of amenities. You could expand on the usual informational flyer and create a more in-depth, full color brochure with MagCloud that shows off not only the property, but shops, parks, restaurants, and schools in the surrounding area. Highlighting the key features outside the home that might appeal to your ideal buyer could be the difference that makes your listing stand out over the alternatives. Presenting this information as a high quality printed piece will have the added benefit of offering a more professional look without the expense of a traditional print run.

If you have multiple target buyers for a single property you could even take it a step further and create different versions of the brochure to highlight the amenities that appeal to your different audiences. For example, one version of the brochure might give more emphasis to the great schools and parks in the area, while the other might highlight the local restaurants, public transportation and nearby fitness centers. With MagCloud, printing 25 copies each of two different brochures will cost the same amount as printing 50 copies of the same brochure, so with no added cost you can align the messaging on your sales materials to a particular buyer’s interests and help them more readily see themselves in the property, which could translate into a sale for you.

To help you get started using MagCloud as a marketing and sales tool for your NSW real estate business, check out these resources that offer real estate-based templates that can be used to create MagCloud-ready PDFs:

MagCloud Real Estate Catalog Template: Catalog template created using the MagCloud specs for use with Microsoft Publisher. You can download the template here.

Microsoft Office Templates: The Microsoft Office website has a number of real estate templates that can be used with Word and Publisher, like this real estate flyer template for Microsoft Publisher. This template will allow you to create an 8.5 x 11″ PDF, perfect for printing with MagCloud’s Flyer product type.

LayoutReady: LayoutReady has templates for Microsoft Word and Publisher, and offer a variety of options for real estate publications. Their 2-page letter-sized newsletter templates can be used with the MagCloud Flyer product type, and their 8.5″ x 11″ flyer templates can as well. Their 17″ x 11″ brochure templates will require some editing to convert them to 4 page 8.5 x 11″ PDFs, but after doing so they can be printed as 4-page MagCloud Standard publications.

StockLayouts: StockLayouts has templates for Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, iWork Pages, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. Like LayoutReady, their 8.5 x 11″ flyer templates can be used with the MagCloud Flyer product type, while their 17″ x 11″ brochure templates and 11″ x 8.5″ newsletter templates will require some editing to convert them to 4 page 8.5 x11″ and 5.5 x8.5″ PDFs, respectively, but after doing so they can be printed as 4-page MagCloud Standard and Digest publications.

Inkd: Inkd has templates for a wide variety of design software, and has a section of templates specific to the real estate industry. Their 8.5 x 11″ datasheet and flyer templates work great with the MagCloud Flyer product.

Are you a real estate agent that has used MagCloud as a sales tool for your business? Let us know how you’ve been using it in the comments section below.

Product Spotlight: Flyer for Business

One of the new product types we recently announced is the Flyer. The Flyer product is a single sheet of paper printed on both sides in full color with a full bleed, available in quantities of 10 copies or more. You can create a Flyer by uploading a one or two-page 8.5” x 11” PDF to MagCloud. Keep in mind that all Flyers must be two pages long, to encompass both the front and back sides of the printed sheet, so if you do upload a 1 page PDF we will automatically add a second blank page to the end of the PDF for you. Like our Standard product, the cost for a printed Flyer is 20 cents per MagCloud page, or $0.40 for each double-sided piece. As always, orders of 20 copies or more receive a bulk discount of 25%, dropping the price to just $0.30 per Flyer.

We feel like this shorter page limit opens up a number of new options for our publishers, and have listed a few ideas below for how you might be able to use the Flyer product for your business:

< Inserts
Update previously printed collateral to be more timely and customized by adding a single sheet insert. Adding a single sheet insert to a previously printed piece like this can provide more relevant information targeted to a specific recipient, or offer an update to existing collateral. For example, if you’re passing out a catalog, you might include an insert about your upcoming product line or summer sale. Similarly, if you are sending previous donors a copy of your non-profit’s annual prospectus, you might include a more personal thank you letter as an insert.

Conference and Tradeshow Handouts >
Whether they are included in the conference materials or handed out at a tradeshow booth, providing printed handouts to attendees to highlight the features of your product or service will help potential customers remember who you are when they get home.

< Datasheets
The Flyer product is a great option for creating single sheets of technical specs on your product or service. The high quality of the digital printing provides a more professional appearance than desktop printing, while the single letter-sized sheet is a format that can easily be included in a packet with other materials, or left behind at a sales meeting.

Real Estate Sales Sheets >
If you’re an Australian real estate agent, why not use the Flyer product to create sales sheets for your newly listed homes. The full color printing will allow you to include photos along with background information about the listing, that can be offered up as a way to entice potential buyers. Since MagCloud allows for shorter print runs, you can order fewer copies initially and print more on demand as they are needed, saving on storage and paper waste.

< Headshots and Resumes
Get your job interview or audition off on the right foot with a professionally printed resume or double-sided headshot.

Newsletters >
Use the Flyer product type to communicate with your clients or members by creating a single-sheet newsletter. With MagCloud’s digital options, you can offer your audience the same newsletter in both print and digital with a single PDF upload.

< Menus
A single 8.5″ x 11″ sheet is the great size for menus, and MagCloud’s print-on-demand model provides a cost-effective and easy way to order additional copies or make updates to the menu as needed. If you’re a caterer, you can take advantage of MagCloud’s shorter print runs to create Flyer-sized menus tailored to each event you cater, whether it’s an intimate dinner party or a large buffet.

Price Sheets >
Are you a photographer offering senior portrait packages? How about a sporting goods store offering bikes, kayaks, and skis for rent? Or a spa owner with a list of services you need to publicize? Whether you are a makeup artist, landscaper, tutor, or dog walker, let your potential customers know the rates for your services with a professionally printed price sheet that can incorporate full-color images of your prior work and personal branding.

< Flyers for Sales and Events
Use the Flyer product for what it was named after: flyers! Print and pass out single sheet flyers for your next retail sale, store opening, or company event. Whether you are hosting a signing in your book store, a concert in your coffee shop, or a spring sale in your clothing boutique, make sure your potential attendees and customers not only know about it but remember it with a printed flyer.

Looking for more inspiration, or wondering where to get started with your Flyer design? Templates that fit the 8.5″ x 11″ Flyer product type can be found around the internet, and even on your own computer. The Microsoft Office Suite, as well as Apple’s iWorks Pages come preloaded with a number of letter-sized templates that can be used for creating Flyer publications. In addition, sites like Inkd and Stock Layouts offer a range of different letter-sized templates in their Datasheet and Flyer sections that you can download for a price and edit to fit your needs before uploading to the MagCloud site for printing and distribution.

Have you already created something for your business with the new Flyer product? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Catalog Design Essentials for Your Business

If you have a small business with a large product or service offering, odds are you have a catalog, and if you don’t, then you’ve probably wanted to create one, but didn’t know where to start. The process can be daunting–with so many elements to pull together and all sorts of design options to consider. So to help you get started, we’ve made a list of 5 tips to keep your efforts and design on track.

1. Know Your Audience

When choosing a design for your catalog, keep in mind your audience and appeal to their style, interests and demographics. Creating a sense of lifestyle will help you connect with customers and position your product as an object of their desire.

2. Reflect Your Brand

Keep your catalog style consistent with your brand style. You want to be sure they can make a connection between your website, logo, and service/products and your catalogs. Whatever you do, design with your brand in mind and be sure the voice and design of the catalog matches the voice and design of your brand. Once you have established a successful look-and-feel for your catalog, resist the temptation to change it. Repetition builds brand recognition, favorable reception and sales.

3. Use Quality Photography

All images should be of the highest quality possible. Make sure your pictures are clear and vivid, not pixilated. Poor quality images will send the message that the products are low quality. If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer, read up on blogs and forums for great tricks for taking your own product photos. Also try to mix up the type of shot. Catalogs benefit from pacing and surprise – simple silhouetted images, closeups of details, wide angles, full-bleed photographs and lifestyle shots sustain viewer interest and keep them turning to the next page.

4. Space and Layout

The most important thing about a catalog is highlighting your product, so be sure you have ample white space for each item. Cramming text and images into a page, or using the exact same layout throughout the document will make it look stale and won’t encourage your customers to really pause and look over the whole spread. A consistent layout throughout the catalog enhances readability but can become boring, so be sure to break up the monotony of a predictable layout by including a unique page or two to highlight a favorite product or create an editorial opportunity for your customer to connect with the product.

5. Use fonts and color wisely

Be sure to use fonts that fit your brand’s style. If you have a children’s apparel brand, your typeface selections will be very different than if you have a luxury spa brand. Do not go overboard with typefaces, it’s probably best to limit your selection to just three. You can read more about this in our recent typography blog post.

Start Planning and Then Start Publishing

There aren’t any hard and fast rules for creating your catalog, just remember to keep it simple so that your product attracts more attention than your design. After all, the objective is to sell more, right?

A good starting point is to jott down words that come to mind when describing your brand: Is it whimsical? Sophisticated? Luxurious? Fun? These words will make the perfect litmus test as you assemble your catalog. Then every step along the way you can ask yourself, is this publication reflecting this image?

Now that you are ready to get started, take a look at some of the great examples of catalogs on MagCloud. We hope they will help inspire you. Already published a catalog with MagCloud? Share it below in the comments!





Tech Tools For Event Planners

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks in the MagCloud offices. Our friends at SmallBiz Technology gave us a great shout out on their blog! In 7 Tech Tools to Help You Organize Your Next Successful Event, Ramon Ray names HP MagCloud as an “awesome service for printing your event program.” Being featured is great kudos in itself, but we’re mostly thrilled that we are considered a go-to, reliable service for printing your event materials.

 

We’re always looking for ways to make MagCloud better for you, and it’s moments like this that make us feel we’re getting the job done. Thanks, SmallBiz Tech!

Are you putting together an event soon? Will you be using MagCloud’s print and digital services? How about the other superb companies mentioned in Ray’s article?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

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.

HP MagCloud: Create High-Quality Business Materials on a Small Business Budget

This post was written by Melissa_Zieger and originally appeared on the blog for 367 Addison Avenue, HP’s online community for small and medium businesses, on September 22, 2011. You can view the original post here.

Did you know that HP has a content publishing web service that can be used to create everything from your own magazine to business materials like catalogs and portfolios? It’s called HP MagCloud – invented by HP Labs, is a self-service publishing platform that allows businesses to easily create into professional-quality publications that can be printed on demand, shipped globally, or distributed digitally.

Better yet, there’s no upfront cost and MagCloud can turn your content from a PDF to delivered printed publication in just three days!

Using MagCloud’s digital storefront, customers can order the latest issue of their favorite publication and have it printed on demand and delivered directly to their doorstep, or download for reading on their digital device of choice. Plus, all content is printed to order using HP Indigo technology, delivering professional print quality with no waste or overruns, reducing the impact on the environment.

Businesses are using MagCloud to create everything from fashion catalogs and knitting guides to photography and architectural portfolios. I recently sat down with two small business customers using HP MagCloud to find out more about how the service is benefiting their business.

Alex Tinsley started her knitting pattern design business, Dull Roar, nearly six years ago. Prior to discovering MagCloud, Tinsley was only able to provide her customers with a PDF of her patterns via her blog. Today, she uses MagCloud to transform PDF versions of her design work into high-quality professional catalogs that she can distribute in both digital and print formats without a huge impact on her business’ bottom line.

“The quality of the printing is really just beautiful, and it’s pretty much the only place you can get that kind of quality in small quantities,” said Tinsley. “I love that it runs without much input from me – I just upload the issues and collect the income. MagCloud handles all the sales, printing and shipping.”

The ability to offer customers both print and digital formats helps Tinsley meet her customer’s needs without making an upfront investment in the creation and printing. Tinsley says that most of her customers prefer the digital copy for instant gratification, but that she uses the hard copies as giveaways and gifts. She’s also used the publication as a handout at tradeshows, which enables her to drive views to her website and increase downloads of her digital catalog.

Trey Hill, a Dallas-based photographer and storyteller, started using MagCloud in 2010 to create storytelling portfolios of his work. He needed a way to not only show the pictures he had shot but also to showcase his journey.

Hill uses Adobe InDesign to create photo portfolios and uses MagCloud to print his digital creations on-demand as a way to attract new business and share with clients as a thank you for their business. Hill says the ability to have both print and digital versions is important. “The print quality increases the value of my business, but we live in a digital world so it’s still important to provide a digital format, as well,” he said. “As a small business owner, not having to buy 1,000 copies to get a great price point is worthwhile. And my customers are blown away by the quality.”

Since using MagCloud, Hill has started to see a change in what his customers have come to expect – they now see him as a storyteller, not just a photographer.

About Alex Tinsley

An avid knitter since 2004 and knit design enthusiast since 2006, Alex Tinsey’s designs can now be seen in publications like Knitty, Knit Simple, the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program, and (soon) Knit Scene. You can access Tinsley’s MagCloud products here.

About Trey Hill

Trey Hill was one of the founding creatives behind I Am Second and his portfolio includes work for Addison Road, Relevant Magazine and the Dallas Stars. He works all over the world and has had the privilege of photographing some of the planet’s most revered and most overlooked people. You can access Hill’s MagCloud products here.

Publishers in Their Own Words: Dull Roar

Dull Roar
by Alexandra Tinsley

Dull Roar is my little design company, providing primarily accessory patterns for handknitters. The patterns are sold mainly online, in pdf form, but many people prefer the convenience of a printed hard copy that can be carried around and marked up as you go.

It’s difficult to provide quality printed copies to people all over the world without incurring huge upfront and shipping costs on my end, but MagCloud makes it possible for me to do just that. I can now offer hard copies of both individual patterns and my multi-pattern collection right alongside the pdf versions on my blog, and let MagCloud handle the details.

The finished patterns look gorgeous and professional, and I know other designers are getting excited about the possibilities too. Knitting patterns may not be exactly what MagCloud was created for, but that doesn’t stop it from working wonderfully.