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I love color. It's exciting - and fun to work with but if you're a novice at creating marketing materials all the color jargon may be hard to figure out. If you’ve been around designers or printers at all, you’ve likely heard conversation around CMYK, RGB and PMS. What does that all mean - especially that PMS one - or maybe you don't want to ask... Let me see if I can make complex color theories easier for you here...

CMYK - this stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The four colors used in the printing process. If you were reading this piece in a printed magazine, you would be reading it in a CMYK color space. In "four-color process" (CMYK) printing, primary colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) are mixed together to produce most of the colors that you see in normal magazines and color books.  CYMK is what the vast majority of commercial printers do but isn't always color accurate and colors may deviate from job to job.

PMS - this stands for Pantone Matching System. A way to select a very certain color and ensure its consistency throughout your piece or from print job to print job. These specific color formulas will reproduce accurately in print. Instead of simulating colors by combining primary colors, spot (PMS) colors are pre-mixed with existing and published color formulas.  “Spot” colors refer to the actual printing process by which they are applied. Some PMS colors are not reproducible using CMYK so if exact color is a must - PMS is the only way to go.

It is possible to have spot colors that actually have no color to them at all. Spot varnishes are glossy or dull varnishes applied to specific areas in a printed piece to achieve specific results. A quick tidbit, Coca Cola as an example will never EVER print its brand coca cola red in CMYK in any of its packaging, because they want to always have that pure bold red.

RGB - this refers to Red, Green, Blue and is a term for on screen color. If you are reading this, you are reading an RGB display via your computer.  The three colors that create every other tone of color that is visible on your screen. There is no black or white ‘color’. Neither is there yellow or purple. They are all a combination of red, green and blue.

EIEIO - well that's just the song my girls were singing on the ride home today...

"The only color I don't have is navy brown." Yogi Berra

"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment." Claude Monet


Marketing 911 - How to Hang on in this Economy

This is one tough economy we are in. And what do companies cut first? Their marketing budget. It's the easiest line item to slash - and quickly at that. But you still need brand awareness, communication of product information, and promotion. As Don Loepp, Managing Editor at Plastics News notes in his Feb-09 article - "Many companies wrongly assume that marketing is a luxury, not a necessity." Check out that great article at: 


Here are some marketing essentials to keep your business profitable.

Develop a marketing plan. Regardless of the state of the economy, you should always have a marketing plan.  Define your goals and objectives, focus your message for each target audience and lay out your strategies. Include deadlines, assign responsibility for each task and measure your results.

Build your database. Now is the time to develop or fine tune your data base. This is your honey pot for future business.

Develop your marketing message and use it consistently. Why do customers buy your product? How is your solution different from the competition? Find that marketing message and use it over and over again.

Make sure your website works for you. The website is a marketing tool that works 24/7. Use it to your advantage by attracting visits with useful and timely information. Give people a reason to come back.

There are ways you can still hang on to those marketing plans and goals without decimating your entire budget. Here are a few ideas:

- Boost your PR campaign. Generate press releases and communicate with the industry editorial staff on the latest products, advancements, personnel or technology your company offers. Look at your current customer base and determine what case histories can you get some mileage from? You can get thousands of dollars worth of valuable print space in the publications with just one release.

- Printing product information - if you require smaller quantities of literature (1000 or less) look into digital printing vs offset printing. The printing quality has come a long ways and its a very cost effective way to print smaller quantities.

-Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Whether its a print ad or company t-shirts, always work to get the best deal you can. Ask for any free items that can come with it - like literature or web spotlights with your print ad order.

-Don't hand out literature at trade shows. A big percentage of it just gets tossed. Instead qualify the lead and have a program in place to make sure a nice package is waiting for them on their desk when they return from the show.

- Communicate to your customers with a newsletter. Publish it on regular intervals convenient to you- monthly, quarterly, biannually, or even annually. Try not keep the interval too long. It is the best way to remind your clients about your new products and services and potential clients about your company activities. Even if you don't have budget to print it, have the e-version distributed via emails and have it available on your company website.

Marketing is not a corporate luxury that you can only afford in good economic times. It is a necessity and a secret to growth.

Andrea Siy is the President of S!Y Communications, a marketing communications firm specializing in the plastics industry. You can contact her at [email protected]


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