Poor Camera Ready Copy (written February 1996)

Joining the ranks of today’s “Successful” Mail Marketing Dealers is not as simple as just sticking your name on a circular or ad and getting it circulated. If it was, everyone would be rich, Successful Mail Marketers.

Fact is, looking at some of the circulars we receive to print, and/or, direct mail, it’s a wonder some of them even break even (I’m sure they don’t). Consumers look for things that imply success. They’re not dense. After all how can you be expected to make me money when by the looks of your “salesman” (your circular) you are not doing too great yourself?

Some of the washed out, faded, handmade cheap looking trash we receive as camera-ready copy would make even the most liberal buyer skeptical. “Money Begets Money.” If you don’t believe it, then go ahead and keep your money in your pocket (money that should be used for professional typesetting and layout work) and use those old worn out or homemade circulars. Bet you’ll lose all your investment.  Unfortunately!

Even some of the better looking (to the eye) circulars are not really camera-ready.  The ones with heavy solids (reverses) often look OK, but before you invest money on printing, hold your copy up to the light bulb and see how transparent that heavy black really is? Looks all washed out in the light? Does it? When it’s placed under the much stronger lights of the plate maker camera for reproduction, it looks even worse. And will often reproduce all washed out, even through your original looked solid and black. Now you know why.

Heavy solids and larger area reverses should not be used when using the lower cost mail order printing. They are designed to be used on coated (slick) stock. The low rates you pay for the Mail Order Printing is for a low grade bond paper. It is absorbent. Coated stock is not. Different inks are used on each type. The coated stock allows the ink to set on top of the paper and not soak in, thus, the heavy black look. Copy paper does not do that. It soaks up the ink.

If your circular has unusual amounts of heavy solids (reverses), you are probably better off to pay a few extra bucks and have your typesetter/printer re-do that area for you. We do lots of it and usually replace the heavy solids with a nice type style on a “screened” background. A nice effect and just as eye catching as reverses, but prints much better, and looks great and not washed out.

Most all printing in our envelopes that is washed out or faded is the result of the customer sending us poor quality camera ready copy. At the low rates charged, nothing is done to improve it on the printer’s end. That would not be possible from the financial standpoint so be certain you send your best copy for the printing.  Or have it re-typeset even nicer before printing. Sometimes the prime source of a program does not know what type style to use for his new programs that will be sent out as camera ready copy to his dealers. A poor style is used and about the third of fourth generation copy is a mess and looks terrible. If you have that problem, it’s simple to fix. Just fix it before you send it to your printer as camera ready copy.

If your potential prospect sees you care about the look of your flyer, there’s a better chance they will think better of contacting you to see what you got to offer!  “Dress For Success.”

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.