Roddy Explains Folding....

Do you remember making paper fortune tellers in primary school, to find out who you fancied or who fancied you?

Chances are you have wrestled with trying to fold an ordnance survey map, only to realise with increasing frustration that with every failed attempt, you have moved a little further away from the neatly folded map that you bought in the shop.

Without paper folding, we would have enormous, unwieldy maps and newspapers, restaurant menus as big as the table in front of us, and the postal service would be very different indeed if letters and cards could not be folded. Just how would we cope if hotel toilet rolls were not folded into points at the start the roll?

But without paper folding, there would be no origami. So no paper fortune tellers in primary school to get the inside track on who you will marry, but – possibly more importantly – no thousand year old tradition of creating beautiful art from paper.

And talking of folding maps, next time you’re wrestling with a troublesome map during a walk, why not airily inform any friends or family members who think they could do it better that you’re just a bit busy with ‘combinatorial mathematics’, thank you very much. And that far from struggling, you are folding the map into a Turkish fold, one of the many map folding techniques in the digital age.

But for now, if you have a piece of A4 paper and 10 minutes to spare, make an origami crane, considered to be the most classic of all Japanese origami designs?

What Makes a Successful Brochure

Continuing this series of helpful blogs, we tell you the secrets of successful brochures. 

Top tips for successful brochures

  1. Stand out for the right reasons

Have your brochure professionally printed. Of course we’re going to say that, you might say, but think about it. You want your brochure to tell people about your business or service. What qualities do you want people to think of when they think of your business – professional, hard-working, competent, expert, quality, accurate, good value for money? Or flimsy, sloppy, cost-cutting and corner-cutting, done on the cheap? A professionally printed brochure doesn’t need to be expensive, but it will make you look professional – with accurate colours, bright inks, high-quality paper and a professional finish.

  1. Think about your audience

Don’t think about what you want to tell people, think about what they need to know. People won’t be interested in your company’s background or what your offices look like. They need to know what your company can do for them and what benefits they can get if they choose you (for example, quality, expertise, professionalism, customer service). So use your brochure to create desire – to tell people about your products and services, what you can do for them and why they should choose you.

  1. Think about your content

People are busy, so make your brochure easy for people to find the information they need. Don’t be tempted to cram as much information, images and graphics as you can onto each page. You may end up with a brochure that could win a design award (which is fine if your business is about winning design awards), but if people can’t easily find the information they need on the page, they will give up.

  1. Don’t stand out for the wrong reasons

Mistakes can make you look incompetent and sloppy and reflect badly on your business. Proofread your content carefully – not just for typos, but to check that the wording makes sense, is easy to read, and is accurate. Check names, address details, phone numbers and page numbers. Check that the wording makes sense and is easy to understand. Check your spelling and grammar, and don’t rely on your computer’s spell check function. It’s a really good idea to get someone outside your business to read it through to check that it’s clear, easy to read and free from mistakes – before you get it printed.

  1. Think about circulation

Your brochures need to work for you, and they can’t do this if they’re in a box on your desk, so circulate your brochures as widely as you can. Give them to existing customers, send them out with letters and quotations, use them to publicise a special offer, give them to people visiting your business, run a direct mail campaign, leave them where potential customers can pick them up, take them to exhibitions, get them put into seminar packs, use them at networking meetings and talk with your local Chamber of Commerce.

Think about your existing customers and, perhaps more importantly, potential customers. Think about where they are likely to see and use your brochure. Use your brochures to remind existing customers about your business, and to drive potential customers to your business.

Make your brochures work for you!

 

Key Elements of Good Brochure Design

Key Elements of Good Brochure Design

Continuing our series of brochure blogs, we explain some key elements to bear in mind when it comes to writing and designing your brochure.

For more information on our A5 and A4 brochures, click here.

Think about your reader and what they need to know, not what you want to tell them.

Think about what you want your brochure to look like. Gather some samples of brochures and decide what you like about them and what works well. Think about your layout. It might help to get some sheets of paper, fold them to make a mock up, and draw out what you want to go on each page.

Use the layout of each page to help people find what they need. Use headings and subheadings to separate text into easy-to-read blocks. Use short paragraphs, bullet lists and questions and answers to help people read your text easily. Get people’s attention by using pictures. Use clear fonts that are big enough to read, and don’t put pale text on a dark background. Have a good balance of pictures and text, with plenty of white space.

Don’t use long, complicated words, management jargon or technical terminology. Keep your sentences clear and short. Keep your paragraphs short. A 2012 study by Christopher Trudeau about language in legal documents showed two surprising facts. Firstly, 80% of people preferred sentences written in clear English. Secondly, the greater the person’s educational level, the greater their preference for clear English. People are busy and don’t have time to wade through lots of dry, complicated text. Even if people can understand complex and wordy writing, it doesn’t mean that they want to read it.

Avoid the passive voice. The active voice is more direct and easier to understand than the passive, for example, ‘Place your artwork here’ is much easier to read than ‘Your artwork should be placed here’.

Check and check again! Check your spelling and grammar, and don’t rely on your computer’s spell check function. Check whether all the wording is clear to read and understand. It can help to print your text off at a different size, or to read it aloud. Ask someone else to check your text for spelling, grammar and sense.

What a brochure can do for your business

Business cards are an essential tool for every business. You can – and should – distribute your business cards everywhere to keep your business’s details in front of potential and existing customers. Business cards are great, but they only include essential contact information. This is where leaflets and brochures come in.

Leaflets and brochures in all their many sizes and forms work brilliantly to promote your business and drive potential and existing customers to get in contact.

In this series of helpful blogs, we’ll explain about how to make brochures work for you, discuss the pitfalls to watch out for, and show you how to design a well-constructed brochure. For more information on our A5 and A4 leaflets, click here.

What can a brochure do for you?

  • Advertise and market your company, explaining your company’s ethos, mission and services.
  • Make your company more visible by creating and maintaining awareness of who you are, what you do and why you’re fantastic at it.
  • Motivate potential customers to come to you and keep existing customers loyal to you.
  • Showcase your products and services.
  • Give people information that they can keep and refer to.
  • Answer frequently asked questions about your business.
  • Tell people about how they can get in contact with you.
  • Communicate why people should use your company.
  • Tell people about special offers, new offers or services.

How can you use a brochure?

  • Send it to new and existing customers (using a mailing list, customer database, and whenever you send a letter or quotation out).
  • Give it to people you meet to introduce your company to them.
  • Insert it in presentation materials.
  • Leave it with customers after a visit.
  • Use it in stands and take-home bags in exhibitions, seminars and trade fairs.

Brochures can include a large amount of information about your products and services. Because you can only be in one place at once, use your brochure to market your company to people when you’re not there.

A brochure isn’t just a resource to leave with existing customers – used properly, it’s a vital sales tool to drive new customers to you.

For more information, click here or email roddy@leafletfrog.co.uk

What Your Stationery Says About You

Don’t underestimate the power of business stationery as a marketing tool. Your business stationery reflects both you and your company, so it needs to be as professional as you are.

In this blog, we look at some top tips for business stationery. To find out more, give us a ring on 01204 328273, email roddy@leafletfrog.co.uk or see the links for our business starter pack and our bespoke design service.

Tips for creating a good first impression

  • Don’t be tempted to do your business cards and letterheads on the cheap. Think about what you want your business stationery to say about you.
  • Getting your stationery professionally printed, using a quality card for business cards (a good weight is 300 gsm) and a quality paper for your letterheads (a good weight is 120 gsm), will give people the right impression about the level of quality they can expect from your business.
  • Use fonts and font sizes that are easy to read.
  • Proofread your artwork so there are no mistakes.

Tips for business cards – keep it simple, keep it clean

  • Keep to the standard business card size of 85 x 55 mm. Don’t be tempted to go for an unusual size or shape, because people won’t be able to store them with other cards.
  • You only have a small space. A simple and clean layout is better than a cramped and cluttered one.
  • Landscape layouts are most common, but think about what will work best.
  • Include what’s important:
  • Your name.
  • Your business name.
  • Your business logo.
  • Your contact details: phone number, email address, company website address and your business address.
  • Put your name and your business name in a larger font size in the middle of the card. Put your address, email and website in a smaller font size, but don’t go any smaller than 9 pt as it will be too small to read easily.
  • Is it obvious what your business is? If not, think about adding a few words to explain your business.

Tips for letterheads

There are some legal requirements to bear in mind for letterheads, compliments slips and invoices. Depending on how your business is set up, this is a guide to what you need to include:

Sole trader  

Your name and the business address.

If you’re using a different name for your business (even if this includes your own name e.g. John Smith Accountancy Services), you also need include your own name as the proprietor/business owner and the business address.

Partnership

The names of the partners and the business address

Limited company

Your full registered company name and registered office address.

If the company is using a trading name (different to the registered company name) then the full registered company name and registered office address should be included in addition to this name

The fact that the company is limited (by using Ltd or Limited)

The company’s registered number.

The part of the UK where the company is registered (i.e. England and Wales, or Wales, or Scotland, or Northern Ireland).

If you want to include directors’ names, you need to list all of them.

VAT

Also if you are registered for VAT you should include your VAT registration number on letterheads

Some people put the Company registration number, registered office and VAT registration (if applicable) on the footer which is fine as long as it appears and is clear and legible.

Invoices are slightly different, and there’s certain information you need to include on invoices.

 

How to get started in business

Back in the 1970s, we could rely on business advice from CJ in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, who gave us such words of entrepreneurial wisdom as "I didn't get where I am today without knowing a shrewd idea when I hear one", "I didn't get where I am today without spending lolly to earn even more lolly", and, perhaps rather less reliably, "I didn't get where I am today by taking a gift-horse to water, after the stable door was opened".

In this blog, we’ll look at some top tips for getting started in business:

Tip 1: Have a clear vision

Have a clear vision of what your business idea is and what you want to achieve. Write a business plan. Think about what money you have and what you need, what your income might be and what your business running costs are likely to be. Know your figures, and don’t be like the people who go on Dragon’s Den and ruin their pitch because they don’t know their numbers.

Tip 2:      Reach out for help  

Find out what you need to do to set up your own business and what help you can get. Surround yourself with a team of good advisers and mentors. Get support from an experienced business adviser if you can. Some business support services are available free of charge, so investigate what is available.

Tip 3:      Do your homework

Is there a demand for your product or service? Identify your customers and get feedback from them. Find out what your customers want, not what you want to sell them!

Also identify your competitors and analyse what they do well, what you could do better and how you can get customers to choose you instead.

Tip 4: Be a SWOT

How strong is your business idea? Is it strong enough to stand up to scrutiny? What are your opportunities and threats? A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis will help you strengthen your business case and focus your plans. There are lots of free templates you can use on the internet.

Tip 5: What’s your USP?

Know your unique selling point (USP) and have a great elevator pitch so you can quickly describe your business and what is special about it when asked.

Tip 6: Think about the small print

Get advice on legal issues to do with setting up your business, and having solid contract terms to protect your position and help ensure you get paid on time.

Tip 7: Keep on track

Your business plan is also a tool for you, so you should review and update it regularly so you can monitor your performance to make sure you are on track to meet your goals and deadlines.

Tip 8: The customer is king

Value your customers because without them you will have no business. Thank your customers and show appreciation for their loyalty. Concentrate on excellent customer service, and get feedback to make sure you keep improving your business.

Starting a small business? Need to get all your stationery together? We’ve put together a Business Starter Pack, so click here to find out more or to order.

Digital versus litho printing

For customers today, there are 2 main kinds of printing: litho printing and digital printing. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and, if you’re new to printing, it can all be a bit confusing.

Here’s the science bit (!) In litho printing, a set of printing plates is made to transfer (or 'offset') the image onto paper. There are usually 4 printing plates because each plate prints a different primary colour: Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow and Key colour black (CMYK), and these combine to make 4 colour process print.

The printing plates are inserted into the printing press, and as the paper moves through the press the colours mix to make the coloured image on the paper. There are usually some test pages printed first, so the printer can check that the colours are all in register with each other.

You're not limited to printing out of CMYK with litho. You can use special inks, for example fluorescent or metallic ink. If you need to match a colour precisely, you can use a special spot (Pantone) colour. Spot colours are used when it's important to have a particular colour, for example if you need to match a company logo. You don't need to use 4 colours if you don’t need to, so if you only want to print in 2 colours you’ll only need 2 printing plates. 

One key difference with digital printing is that there are no printing plates. The artwork is printed digitally on a printer that uses the same technology as a colour inkjet or laserjet printer – ie dots of colour, but on a much, much bigger scale, and using much more sophisticated technology.

Advantages of litho

  • Cost effective on large print runs (over 500) – the higher the print run, the lower the unit cost.
  • Printing isn’t limited to CMYK - you can use special finishes such as metallic inks and spot colours.
  • You can print on a wide variety of materials - paper, card or plastic.

Advantages of digital

  • Cost effective on short print runs (under 250).
  • You can print from a database or list, so it’s easy to create customised marketing materials.

If you’ve got any questions or aren’t sure what would work best for you, get in contact.

Sustainability. How green is green?

In the previous ‘Roddy explains….’ blog, I explained about paper and how it’s made, so I wanted to use today’s blog to explain sustainability.

sustainable adjective

  1. involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment
  2. that can continue or be continued for a long time

At Leafletfrog, green isn’t just our favourite colour, it’s our way of life. We’re passionate about sustainable forestry, clean pulp and paper manufacturing, and responsible paper consumption.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the US, China, Japan and Canada produce over half the world’s paper, which equates to 400 million tonnes a year – or the weight of 80 million elephants. We know that unsustainable logging degrades forests, accelerates climate change, and affects wildlife and the people who depend on the forests.

When you think about sustainability, there’s a lot more to it than simply planting some trees every time you cut one down. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has 10 principles to make sure that new paper stocks support environmentally sustainable plantations while looking after the people and animals who live nearby.

Here’s an interesting fact: In the UK, 81% of paper is recycled.

At Leafletfrog, we are an eco-friendly business, buying FSC-certified new paper and recycled paper. And all our waste paper products are recycled too. If you want to find out more, just drop me an email.

Here’s another interesting fact: US telecom giant Sprint is currently piloting a project to use only paper made mainly from wheat straw - agricultural waste that is usually burned. This might be the next big thing in sustainable paper production, and you can say you heard about it first from Roddy!

Pulp fiction – a short story about paper

If I was invited to go on Mastermind, I’m sure you could guess what my specialist subject would be. Of course, it would be the collected works of Shakespeare. Sorry – couldn’t resist that – it would be paper!

As paper is definitely my specialist subject, I thought I’d write a blog explaining a bit more about how it’s made – I hope you find it interesting! Paper is the oldest and most versatile natural material in the world, and even in this digital age we all use A LOT of paper. Books, birthday cards, newspapers, magazines, leaflets, letters, cash, cheques, stamps, tissues, kitchen rolls, toilet rolls, wrapping, packaging, teabags… the list is endless.

Here’s an interesting fact: You might think that nowadays all paper is made from wood, but in fact paper bank notes are made from cotton, because it’s more hard-wearing and durable than paper. However very soon paper bank notes will be a thing of the past, as the Bank of England is planning to bring in plastic bank notes from Spring 2016. So no more worrying if you leave a tenner in your jeans pocket come wash day!

A brief history of paper

I’m sure you’ve heard of papyrus, the earliest paper made from reeds by the ancient Egyptians. Papyrus, and the word ‘paper’, come from the name of the reed they used, Cyperus papyrus. Over the centuries, people have made paper from a wide variety of fibres – reeds, rice, wood, cotton and plants. Today, paper comes mainly from two sources – wood fibres from trees and recycled paper.

How do they do that?

It’s actually quite easy to make paper. The process is pretty similar whether you fancy having a go one rainy afternoon with the kids, or whether you happen to own a paper manufacturing plant. You mix up fibres into a pulp, cook them in hot water until they become soft, lay the soupy mixture on a mesh, dry off the excess water, and voila, you’ve got paper!

Here’s another interesting fact: Recycled paper needs to have some new wood pulp in it. This is because every time paper is recycled the fibres get shorter in the pulping process – and if the fibres are too short they won’t hold together. So recycled paper will always have some new fibres mixed in.

Bye for now! Roddy

Hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque

Now, some eagle-eyed masterminds among you will no doubt have spotted that the heading of today’s blog is very similar indeed to Monday’s. Are you thinking:

  • Has Roddy lost his mind?
  • Has that frog given up writing anything even remotely original?
  • Have laziness and complacency kicked in already?
  • Woss gaahhn on ere? (for those of you who watch Eastenders).

No, dear reader, I can assure you that there is a very good reason for using a similar heading, and that’s because this coming Saturday is the fourth of July. To most of us, that date is very like the third of July but a day later, but to some people it’s The Fourth of July – aka Independence Day. Don’t panic, I’m not talking about the Will Smith 1996 vision of apocalyptic alien invasion (so there’s no need to worry about having new UFO overlords), but the day when the American people of the world, some of whom live in Albuquerque, will eat hot dogs and rejoice in their independence from us (and undoubtedly, from hostile extraterrestrials).

One thing that we share with Albuquerque this week is sweltering heat. As I reported on Monday, I don’t like it too hot – unless, of course, it’s another ‘red hot Leafletfrog deal’, like 5000 A5 leaflets for only £52 ’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist mentioning that – blame the heat!).

The BBC has reported that thousands of people will be flocking to the coast to enjoy the weather. I’ll be following their advice to stay out of the sun, which suits me as I’ve got a bumper number of orders to print this week. But if you’re not a frog and you like the sun, check out these top heatwave tips. If you’ve got any tips about how you stay chilled during this heatwave, drop me a line at roddy@leafletfrog.co.uk or add a comment – I’d love to hear your ideas.

So while it’s hot, why not take a trip back in time to when Prefab Sprout sang about hot dogs and jumping frogs (and Albuquerque). I wonder - did anyone else think the words were ‘hot dog, jumping frog, Albert Turkey’, or was that just me?

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