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Archive for the ‘Magnets’ Category

Custom Printing: Thoughts on Promotional Magnets

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

A friend and colleague in the commercial printing field recently brought to my attention a flyer from a magnet company, or, more specifically, a manufacturer of magnetic paper used for custom printing.

At first glance this seemed like a mundane topic. After all, everyone has magnets on their refrigerators, (calendars or ads for some car company or plumber). But as I thought about it further, I realized a few intriguing things.

Magnets Are Effective Marketing Tools

The effectiveness of a promotional item is directly proportional to the number of times a client sees it. Think of it as a form of subtle hypnotism. If a potential client to which you have sent a calendar magnet refers to this calendar every day for a year and then needs someone in your particular field for an upcoming job, whom do you think he or she will call? Who will be “top of mind,” as the marketers say. You. And your phone number will be immediately available because you will have included it on your refrigerator magnet.

Magnets Can Be Printed in a Number of Ways

The particular flyer my friend and colleague sent me included the following kinds of custom printing for which its magnetic paper would be ideal: “laser, flexo, offset.” After reading this, when I was doing further research on the Internet, I also saw reference to gravure and inkjet printing, as well as to serigraphy (or custom screen printing).

What this means is that you have a lot of options for printing on magnetic paper, ranging from extra long press runs (with “static” imagery; that is, type/art that doesn’t vary) on gravure equipment to extra short press runs or even one copy on digital printing equipment. You can even personalize each and every magnet. Your magnet printing job can therefore be economical because the technology can be directly tailored to your budget and business goals.

You Can Even Print Magnets Yourself on Your Office Printer

Upon further research, I also learned that you can buy small-form magnetic press sheets that will fit in your home or office digital laser or inkjet printer. Some of these come from the stationery store on a pre-die-cut sheet, so after you print the job, you can just peel the backing and scrap away to reveal a die cut oval or other standard-shaped magnet. Other options for magnetic paper might not have this die cut feature, but given the relative thinness of the magnetic sheet (a thin plastic substrate just a bit thicker than a heavy-weight business card), you could just cut it with a scissors.

Or You Can Have Your Commercial Printing Provider Print and Diecut the Magnet

One of the printers to whom I bring my clients’ commercial printing work has a Mimaki inkjet press and plotter. When you go to the printer’s website, you can see a short video of this equipment both printing the magnets (it can also produce die cut labels) and then trimming the intricate contours of the magnets with a plotting knife. I believe lasers can be configured to do the same thing on some other digital presses. What you get in this case is the expanded color gamut of your printer’s inkjet (up to seven or eight colors) plus the custom magnet shapes such large format print-and-cut equipment can produce.

What Are Some of the Options?

I mentioned calendars before, and these definitely are great for reinforcing your brand, but there are other options as well.

You may have one or more trucks in your business. For those who don’t want the added expense of “car wraps,” painted signs, or other high-ticket marketing options, you can spend relatively little for large, durable magnets you can just attach to the left and right doors of your truck. While not as striking as a car wrap, this product will still make a professional statement while displaying your phone number to prospective clients. And the car signs I have seen are also durable: 30pt in thickness.

Magnetic business cards are another option. These can stick to the metal on your desk and be immediately available when you need a phone number. Larger versions of the same thing (i.e., postcard-sized magnets) may be of interest as well. Since they are larger than the business card format, they will command more attention.

Things to Think About

About a year ago, I presented a nature seminar about magnetism. It was for the autistic students with whom we do art therapy. So in preparing for the seminar I learned quite a bit about magnetism. Interestingly enough, I learned that heat kills magnets (just as banging the magnet against something kills the magnetism). For some reason, both the heat and the jarring of the magnet cause the electrons to reposition themselves, which reduces or eliminates the magnetic charge.

In light of this, what I find interesting about digital printing on magnets is that manufacturers seem to have resolved this liability. After all, laser printers expose the magnetic sheets to especially high temperatures to fuse the toner to the substrate.

That said, storing the magnetic paper would still probably require a reasonable room temperature.

Another thing to consider is that some magnetic paper can be magnetized by the user. In the case of the flyer that my friend and colleague sent me (for Flexible Magnet Company, China), a special tool can be purchased and rolled across the surface of the magnetic paper to magnetize it either before or after printing.

Apparently an electric charge from this special roller tool brings the electrons into alignment in the paper to infuse it with a magnetic charge. This seems to be a major selling point, since time can also erode the magnetism of a product. I had a stack of printed refrigerator magnets to be used in a future art project. They were in the (hot) art studio for a number of years, and when I checked them out recently, their magnetic charge had diminished significantly. Such a tool as Flexible Magnet’s magnetizing product can ostensibly turn otherwise useless inventory back into functional magnets.

Finally, printed magnets are cheap. They are the postcards of magnetic marketing (lots of bang for the buck). The business card magnets, postcard magnets, save-the-date magnets, and heavy duty car magnets can project a professional brand image even for a business on a limited budget.

Promotional Products: Refrigerator Magnet Printing

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Think of a marketing magnet as a miniature billboard. It’s an advertisement, and as the election approaches, this format can give you another viable option for name recognition. In fact, even if you’re not producing political signage for candidates, you may find this a useful tool for building brand recognition for your clients—or yourself.

New Custom Printing Options vs. Old

To begin with, magnets used to be printed by specialty printers. They were considered novelties. You would screen print a simple design in one or two colors. Then you would die cut the contour of the magnet using a metal cutting rule on a rotary or cylinder press.

You would first need to pay the set-up charge for the custom screen printing. Like offset printing, this make-ready phase took time and therefore cost money. Unless your press run had been rather long—let’s say 300-1,000 copies or more–your unit cost would be high.

Furthermore, once the job had been screen printed and the ink had dried, your custom printing vendor had to die cut the magnet. Traditional die cutting uses a custom-made cutting rule inset into a piece of wood or some other material. The die itself was expensive to make (up to $400.00 or $500.00), and its creation added time to the overall manufacturing schedule. In addition, the die cutting had to be done on a different piece of equipment than the custom printing.

In recent years this process has changed. I recently wrote a blog about a new integrated inkjet printer and digital die cutter. This is state of the art equipment. In the article I described the vendor’s ability to print labels in one pass and then die cut them in a second pass (using digital data and an automated knife), without removing the job from the inkjet equipment. The commercial printing vendor with whom I spoke about this equipment had been producing digitally die cut, peel-n-stick labels.

What I find exciting about this technology is that it can also be used to print refrigerator magnets. Your commercial printing vendor can purchase thick vinyl sheeting bonded to a magnetic backing and then feed this into the integrated inkjet printing and die cutting equipment. If you wish, he can then laminate or UV coat the magnets for a glossy appearance and for protection.

Features and Benefits of Digitally Produced Magnets

It’s easy to understand the technical benefits of integrated inkjet printers and digital die cutters and how they shorten make-ready times, speed up production runs, and thus yield a cost savings. Beyond this, there are aesthetic benefits as well.

For instance, a decade or two ago you might have chosen a simple, text-only treatment for your magnet in only one or two colors.

Now, you have access to full color printing of the entire magnet produced on digital inkjet equipment. In addition, the increased color range of many large format inkjet presses (due to an extended ink set) allows you to produce vibrant photographic images and to match PMS colors more precisely. The increased resolution available on inkjet equipment also allows you to produce finer detail than possible with the coarser halftone rulings available for custom screen printing. You get almost continuous tone images.

In terms of financial benefits, you will have more vendors that can print your magnets, increasing competition and fostering lower prices. Setting up a screen printing operation is an expensive proposition, so fewer commercial printing suppliers will commit to this technology. In contrast, a commercial printing vendor can buy a large-format inkjet press for proportionately less money. And it will allow him to produce everything from backlit signage to banners to vehicle wraps to magnets.

More printers will therefore have the incentive to buy this equipment. Over time as the technology improves, the combination of increased vendor competition and lower equipment and supply costs should drive down prices for printing your magnets. And you can print one, ten, or a hundred magnets (instead of 1,000) without worrying about set-up costs.

Why Magnets Are Small Billboards

Here’s the real reason you may want to consider custom printing magnets for your clients or yourself: They put your name in front of your client, or your client’s client.

Think about it. If you design and produce a refrigerator magnet and send it out to a prospective client, every time he or she goes to the refrigerator, he or she will see your name. It’s Marketing 101: exposure to the brand. And on a unit-cost-basis, this is an incredibly inexpensive way to advertise your services.

How do you get the prospective client to put your magnet on the refrigerator? Make it useful.

Think about all the calendars you receive in the mail each year. A 4” x 6” magnetic calendar with your name emblazoned across the top can be both useful to your prospective client and a good, inexpensive advertisement for your product or service as well. And since it provides useful information, it will probably stay on the refrigerator for a year.

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