Personalize Messaging with Variable Print

Hey, you! When’s the last time a generic greeting caught your attention more than hearing your own name? We can’t think of one either. Whether you’re walking down the street or planning a marketing campaign – people like personalization.

Why not tailor your communication techniques so they’re unique for each of your customers? Variable printing is more effective at prompting your reader to take action and can be printed on coupons, brochures, direct mail and more! Instead of sending out 1,000 identical mailings to your customer contact list, (we’ve heard it called “spraying and praying,”) send one mailing inviting James or Jennifer by name to check out your new inventory, or ask a customer if they need your services in their home at 14 Front Street.

You can customize prints with a variety of different things, but the most common ones businesses request are customers’ names, purchase history, demographics, and geography. You could even include a customized map that shows your customer exactly how to get to your business from their home – these direct mail pieces have been shown to generate a 40% higher response. Here are some examples of variable printing pieces:

Variable Print Examples


Another way to create a customized experience for your customer is to include a pURL, or a personalized page that’s a part of your website. pURLS have some of the same fun, interactive elementthat we talked about with QR Codes in an earlier blog post. Directing a respondent to a pURL makes it possible to track responses, giving you a way to measure the response rate and success of a mailing.


There are many ways variable printing and/or a personalized URL can be integrated into your next marketing campaign. Contact us today for ideas on how to take your campaign to the next level.

Tips for your Printed Pieces

We’ve been in the business for over 25 years, so we’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to graphic design. Here are some tips to make it easier for you to end up with a printed piece you love:

1. Pay attention to resolution.

If you’re a graphic designer, you know that PPI means image resolution that you see on a computer monitor, and DPI is resolution that shows up when you print something. So what does it mean for the rest of us?

Make sure any images you use in printed pieces are at least 300 DPI (if you pull an image off of Google, for example, it could have a DPI as low as 72… which won’t show up looking sharp).

You can check the DPI of an image by right-clicking on an online image file > select “Properties” > click the “Summary” tab > click “Advanced Properties” > check out the “Horizontal Resolution” and “Vertical Resolution,” which will tell you the DPI.



A low resolution can make even a great picture seem dull.

A low resolution can make even a great picture seem dull.



2. Optimize your file format.

If you want to scan an image, save it as a TIF (.tif) or EPS (.eps). File formats like GIF or JPG can make your image look blurry and off-color.

3. Convert to CMYK.

Computer monitors use RGB (Red, Green, Blue), while printers use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). So, your piece will look a little different printed than it did on the screen. Make sure to order a hard copy proof if matching colors is absolutely critical.



Always convert images to CMYK using programs like PhotoShop or Corel PhotoPaint for printing

Always convert images to CMYK using programs like PhotoShop or Corel PhotoPaint for printing



4. Work with a Graphic Designer.

To make sure you’re getting the highest quality and best price, bring your work to a graphic designer, who can produce creative work that meets all the requirements we described above.

How to Make an Attractive, Affordable Event T-Shirt

 Spring is just around the corner, which means warm weather, blooming flowers…and company t-shirts!

Spring is just around the corner, which means warm weather,
blooming flowers…and company t-shirts!



This time every year, we get a huge wave of requests to make logo t-shirts and other apparel items for events such as benefit walks. This process often includes securing sponsorships, and including those companies’ logos on your customized items. We’ve put together a list of quick tips to help you make ordering those shirts just a little easier:

  1. Select a blank shirt that you would like to decorate. Decide between long sleeves or short sleeves, and then pick a color.

  2. Get an idea of what quantity you’d like to order.

  3. Decide on your imprint:  will you have design on the front only? Back only? Both front and back?  How large do you want the imprint be?

  4. Ask your sponsors to send their logos:

    1. In high-resolution – a resolution of at least 300 DPI will allow the image to look crisp on screen printed items

    2. Using spot color – Spot colors are a specific custom ink color, and they need to be included in the original logo artwork.

    3. In an EPS or PDF file type – These types of file formats are vector, which means the image will look very crisp on the finished product.

  5. Decide on screen print or embroidery: Generally speaking, event shirts, especially those with sponsors listed on the back, are screen printed.  Embroidery works well for decorating a shirt with one or two logos, but if your message needs to be fairly large in size, screen print will be the most attractive and cost-effective way to decorate.
Get someone else’s opinion, and rely on your supplier for help! If you don’t have the time to create a design yourself, just send us the elements you want on your item and any vision you have, and we can take it from there. Our graphic design team can create a great design, and our product specialists can help you find shirts, banners, or various other promotional items to fit any event or budget.

Super Bowl Commercial Success

This past Sunday, Go Daddy, the domain registrar company known just as well for its suggestive celebrity spokeswomen as its innovative services, went down in history as the first to use a QR code in a Super Bowl commercial. In our last blog post, we talked about the many opportunities made possible by using QR codes to reach the 111.3 million captive viewers that tuned into the big game… so, did this “mobile marketing experiment” live up to the hype?

On one hand, yes. Go Daddy’s campaign saw tremendous success… on-screen QR codes led to videos featuring their spokesmodels and coupons for one of their services, created a buzz about the company, and set an all-time sales record for the mobile site during the game. See the whole video here.

On the other hand, some QR codes used by advertisers in the Super Bowl’s official game program left consumers unimpressed. While users did scan the codes, many complained that they were led to boring and impersonalized online content that wasn’t optimized for viewing on a mobile phone.

The take-away from this “experiment” is that misusing a QR code is like spending all of your time creating fancy invitations for an exclusive party, but forgetting to book a venue for the big day. When your customers show up to something you invited them to, shouldn’t you make their stay worthwhile?

To capture the power of QR codes like Go Daddy did, focus on how you can personalize content or collect results about the customers’ preference to tailor your material to them next time. pURLS and customer surveys give your customer another reason to care what’s on the other end of the QR code.

When QR Codes and Quarterbacks Collide


In less than a week, the 46th annual Super Bowl will kick off in Indianapolis, Indiana. Whether you’re a Giants or a Patriots fan, or just watching for the halftime show, almost everyone can agree that the Super Bowl commercials have become almost as big a phenomenon as the sport itself. This year, there’s something new on the scene – QR codes. Don’t be surprised when a black and white code shows up on your screen, and you’re prompted to scan it with your smart phone. These codes can lead to mobile phone-specific website content, videos, or even contests.

But say you don’t have $3.5 million to spend on 30 seconds of air time (yes, that’s the average Super Bowl commercial price!) to reach the 40% of wireless users who currently own a smart phone… can you still take advantage of QR codes? Absolutely! QR codes are an interesting way to drive traffic to the web, and they are easily added to any printed piece, from business cards to billboards to flyers. We’ve seen it from many companies, including Macy’s, HBO, and Toyota. Your company, no matter its size, can be next.

Interested? Check out our previous blog post, which offers tips on how to use QR codes to capture and interact with your audience in a whole new way.

Can a block of squiggly lines really be the next big thing in marketing?

QR Code

QR Code


Companies often spend significant time and effort creating websites chock-full with great information and tools, then come to us with the question:  how do I actually direct people to my website?

Quick Response codes may be the answer! QR codes are 2-D barcodes that your customers can scan with an application on their smart phones to gain instant access to any address on the web, whether it’s your website, online coupons, instructional videos, or up-to-date event information. Using QR codes in an effective, cutting-edge way for your business to reach and interact with more customers than ever before!


Disney Blog

Disney Blog


Disney  created a series of print ads in Japan that show the fan-favorite characters with QR codes embedded in their faces. When people scan the QR codes, they’re directed to Disney Channel’s mobile-phone friendly website.

QR Code Blog

QR Code Blog


The University of Guelph was one of the first to use QR codes in their admissions materials. By scanning the code, prospective students were directed to videos of current students talking about classes and activities they enjoyed at the University.

As you can see, QR codes allow you to integrate print with web, and can be used  in a variety of print and online marketing materials like business cards, brochures, direct mail, trade show displays, patient or client surveys, email blasts, and much more! Contact us today to see how QR codes could give your company a fun, interactive edge.

Logo Design: 3 Tips for Success

So, you’ve decided after reading our last blog post that rebranding with a new logo could help provide that updating and vitality your business needs. While the actual steps obviously vary by industry and company, we’ve compiled a list of 3 of the most important things to keep in mind when creating your new logo as a part of rebranding.

  1. Find a great graphic artist.

    Whether you already have images scribbled on a napkin or want someone to brainstorm fresh ideas, a graphic artist will be able to provide the professional quality work that your brand deserves. During your drafting meetings, be sure to convey your company’s mission statement and vision. He or she also will be able to help you decide what elements (if any) from your existing logo should be used in your new logo… this was one of the biggest challenges we encountered during the process. Here are a few examples of companies that made a few tweaks to their logos over the years…

    KFC, Starbucks

    KFC, Starbucks



    And here are a few that started completely fresh…

    Kraft, San Diego Zoo

    Kraft, San Diego Zoo



    We ultimately decided that while our original brand was recognized by our customers and the community, we’ve expanded our products and services so much over the years that a re-vamp of the logo that reflected these improvements was necessary. See our “before and after” here.

  2. Pay close attention to color.

    Think beyond how the logo will look on a business card. Will the new logo show up well on promotional items like pens that may have to be imprinted in one color only? Are your gradients too detailed to be used on embroidered logo-wear? Keep in mind your logo may not always be in the full-color format that your graphic designer presents it in. We suggest asking your graphic artist to layout a draft of your logo on business cards and letterheads, the basic staples of every office place, to see how it looks. You might next ask for an example of how the logo would be used on a presentation folder, banner or flyer. Before you make any final decisions, also review how the logo will look when produced three ways: full-color, one color with “screens” or “gradients,” and one color only.


    3 Versions of Our Logo

    Versions of our logo


  3. Round up a small committee.

    Corral a small group from your office to give input on the new logo. We suggest resisting the temptation to poll everyone on every decision, as this will significantly slow down the process and may add unnecessary complication. At Professional Systems USA, we asked a member from each department to give their input, so we were able to create a comprehensive logo that reflected each dynamic of our company.

Remember the 80’s?

So do we… that’s why we rebranded! Since 1984, Professional Systems has been dedicated to providing the most modern business solutions to our local and nationwide clients. But just like the days of cropped shirts and leg warmers have passed, we noticed that our own brand was in need of an update, including our logo and website.

We’d like to share our story, as well as some tricks and tips on how you can take advantage of brand messaging to refresh your success. Ask yourself these questions when you consider whether rebranding could help your business:

  1. Has your list of products or services expanded over the years?

    When Professional Systems opened its doors over 25 years ago, our most popular products were pegboard business forms (which most of you don’t even remember) and manila file folders. Today, our range of products includes beautiful full-color print for marketing, electronic document management, furniture, and a wide range of promo products, and our new logo needed to reflect this dynamic range of business solutions. We chose upbeat colors to reflect creativity that we put into every project, and simple shapes that represent comprehensive collection of product that help to organize and optimize your business.
  2. Has it been awhile since you’ve branded?

    Even five or ten years can pass and make a brand outdated.   Trends change.  Technology makes advances.  When we first created our logo in the 80’s, it was impractical and extremely expensive to consider a full-color imprint.  Today, with the advancement of printing processes, there is no reason for a logo and a brand not to be just as colorful as you wish for it to be.  Our first logo was teal  (remember when that was popular?)  and pretty rudimentary by today’s standards.  Modifications made a few years ago brought us more up to date, but we decided that our dated logo might carry the message that we were not keeping up with the times.

  3. Could some simple changes make a difference to your brand?


    We tweaked our logo several years ago with good result.  Large companies do this all the time.  Take a look at logos like the Pepsi® “globe” and the CBS “eye” to see how they have evolved over the years.

  4. Do you have an active, useful online presence?


    While most of our communication with our clients is either in person or in print, we realized that it was time for an update on the web, where it is even more important to give clients a contemporary, up-to-date user-friendly experience.  Clients should be able to easily find you, learn about you and connect with you online.

    So, the next chapter to this story should be, “so how do I get there?”  Check back in at our blog next week for more details!

Coming Soon!

Our new website was launched October 12, 2011. Please check back here within the next few days for our first blog posts. We hope that this will become a helpful resource for you!