Marketing with Custom Photo Business Gifts

by Helen Bradley

We take a look at four websites where you can create custom-printed gifts to thank your customers and to advertise your business.

This time of the year is when your thoughts turn to gifts for customers and suppliers. If you’re a photographer or have access to great photos of your business, what better way to advertise it than using them in your gifts?

You'll find a legion of websites that let you turn photos into desk calendars to high-quality business cards and just about anything else your mind can conjure. The good news is that it's not too late to do it this year; you can get it done on a short turnaround if needed. We’ll introduce you to four online custom-printing services each with a different specialty.

Tips for the Best Results

Before you grab all of your photos and start uploading them to any of these websites, follow these tips to help you get great results. First review your photos and gather together the best of them. If you’re making a calendar you’ll need 13 – one for each month and one for the cover.

For notebooks and objects with space for just one image you can -- obviously -- go with a single image – or you can gather a number of images together into one collage. If you’re making a coffee table book, you’ll need to budget one to two images per page.


Figure 1: You can make a desk calendar, such as this one from Vistaprint, with your own images or with images purchased from a stock photo website.

Check the website for any downloadable design templates or for information about photo format and size requirements. Use that information to make sure your images are the right size and right format. If not, open them in a photo editor and resize and resave them. If images have people in them, fix any glaring problems such as redeye, crop them to remove any extra background, and adjust brightness and contrast if needed.

If you don’t have good images, visit a site like Fotolia.com or Istockphoto.com and purchase stock images. No matter what business you're in -- from building to baking -- you're likely to find great, appropriate images there.

Consider how to combine your images with information about your business. One option is to open each image in your photo editing software, add a band of color across the foot of the image and type your company name, business details and website in this area.

You can also insert your company logo if desired. The text and logo don’t have to be really large, but this way each image includes your company details and provides a bit of advertising mileage.

When adding details to your images, keep them well inside the edges of the image – in some cases the very edge of an image may be trimmed away in the production cycle so you want to make sure your details aren’t in the trim area.

Make Desk Calendars at Vistaprint

A desk calendar is a good way to keep your business in your customers' mind all year round. Desk calendars open to a triangle shape, show a single image for each month, and they have a cover image, too.

At Vistaprint, you can make desk calendars using your photos for a few dollars per calendar. One nice thing about making your own desk calendars: you can start them at any month, so if you don’t get around to making them until February, or if you have a marketing campaign starting in May, then start them at that month instead of January.


Figure 2: Moo prints great-looking business cards. You can provide your own photos or you can use one of Moo's designs.

You can add your own logos and photos to the desk calendars and, for some industries -- like builder, baker and beauty and massage -- Vistaprint offers pre-designed templates. The site also has a great range of one-off custom printing options, but we particularly like the desk calendars for their combination of good looks, longevity and usefulness.

Moo for Quality Business Cards

Business cards printed at Moo.com may be the highest quality, custom-printed business cards you’ll ever handle. We love that the company uses such thick, tactile paper. Moo will print 50 or more double-sided business cards -- each with a different photo on them (if you like) -- for around 50 cents a card shipped. And if you order a greater number of cards, the price drops. Of course you don’t have to upload 50 photos -- you can use just one -- but you can use 50 if you want to, and lots of people do.


Figure 3: If your business has a story, snap photos, write copy, and turn it into a photo book for gifting to customers and clients.

If you choose great images for your Moo cards, you’ll find customers and suppliers will want to keep them because they look so good and feel so great. If you don’t have images of your own, Moo has high-quality designs for you to choose from for a range of business types.

Blurb Photo Books

Blurb is a one-off custom book printing service that will print as few as one book at a time for you with no setup costs. Prices start at $10.95 for a full-color, 20-page soft cover book that measures 7 x 7 inches.

When your business has a story to tell, then a Blurb photo book is a great way to introduce it to potential customers and clients. Capture a series of images around your business and dig into its archives for other images and its history. Write your story, assemble and print it as a photo book using Blurb.

Start by downloading the free Blurb software, and assemble your book at your leisure on your computer. When it is done and ready to print, upload it using a simple upload process. Blurb then prints and ships your book to you.

Print Almost Anything at Cafepress

At Cafepress, you can custom print a range of different products; from iPhone cases to mouse pads and from journals to golf balls. While many people set up shop at Cafepress, you can use it to create personalized gifts without opening a store. To do this, select the Design your own option, and then browse the items you can create.


Figure 4:Cafepress lets you personalize anything from mouse mats to journals and from water bottles to golf balls.

We don’t much care for the clipart available at Cafepress; it's not very high quality. We recommend that you upload images or photos – either your own or those that you purchased from a stock image site. Add your own business information and logo before uploading the images to ensure a professional result.

Custom printing lets you personalize your business gifts and tailor them to your customers and clients. You no longer have to give everyone the same gift because high setup costs no longer apply.

Instead you can create high-quality gifts that advertise your business and, because most sites offer fast turnarounds and quick shipping options, albeit at a price, there’s still time to get your designs created, ordered and printed before the holiday season gets into full swing.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Dec 4th 2012
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