Whether it’s conscious or not, they can, quite literally, FEEL the difference between your printed-in-house brochure and the place down the street that spent a few bucks.
Does this mean you have to get everything printed professionally?
But there is a big difference between printing in-house and having your materials printed professionally.
What’s the difference?
Honestly, there are several differences between professional printing and using your copier/inkjet/whatever you’ve got at your center. Things like paper quality, ink quality, CMYK vs RGB color models and folding/stapling, etc. may all be debated when considering either. But…
Since home printers and office print/copy machines have come a long way over the years and can produce really nice results, I’m only going to focus on one main difference.
What the heck is “bleed?”
Put simply, bleed refers to how close to the edge the colors of your design go. Full bleed means the colors go OFF the edge, leaving no unprinted area on the paper at all.
A professional printer will print in full bleed. The printer hooked up to your computer and even the local office supply/copy place will always have a border of unprinted space around the design.
Here’s what it looks like:
While you can adjust the margins of a document, it will never fully be to the edge of the page with in-house printing. This is because it’s being printed directly on to the chosen paper size. For example, if you’re printing a document that’s 8.5” x 11”, your printer will choose 8.5” x 11” size paper.
A professional printer prints that same document on a larger sheet of paper, then trims the edges down to an 8.5” x 11” size sheet. That’s how the design can reach the edges.
NOTE: If your background is white and none of your design runs off the page, this is much less of an issue. Try to keep this in mind when having that brochure designed!
So, which do I use?
Well, it depends. (how’s THAT for a non-answer?!)
There are a few things to consider:
- What is it?
If it’s marketing collateral like a brochure or post card, or a corporate identity piece like a business card, you should really consider having it professionally printed.
Again, parents can feel the difference between a professionally printed business card and one you printed in-house then cut out with scissors. You’re probably charging a decent amount of money to enroll in your program. Don’t hand them a crooked card or a brochure printed on copy paper.
Things like rate sheets, forms, food menus, holiday calendars, etc. are fine to print in-house. BUT, keep it professional looking! Don’t photocopy an old fax!! (I’ve seen it done).
Make sure everything is properly branded and uniform. Have a folder professionally designed and printed to put loose papers in. No matter what you’re printing in house, it should look as professional as possible.
- What’s the content?
Are you printing teacher bios? What’s your turn-over rate? Are they still going to be there when you run out of those professional brochures?
Are you planning on changing your rates next year? Did you just order 10,000 tri-folds with the old rates?
You see what I’m getting at. Consider what the content is and if you can easily change it or reproduce it.
- How many do you need?
How many of these things are you going to need? How much does it cost for you to print in-house? Is it cheaper to have it printed for you?
Ink is expensive and copier leases generally charge per page. Just keep an eye on your spending.
- What’s the design?
Again, is it full-bleed? Will it look bizarre with a white border around it?
If you’re in love with the design and can’t alter it to suit in-house printing, then that’s something to consider.
Although it may seem a bit silly, how you print what you’re handing parents can really make an impression. In a lot of instances, it’s a first impression. Taking the time to make your printed materials look good can go a long way in representing your child care center as a professional program!
How do you print materials? Have you found a system that works? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time – Be Well. Be Happy. Shape Minds.