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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

 

Managing Premium Expectations on Tight Budgets

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With breathtakingly tight budgets in nearly every business sector, you, like many printers, are often put in a very tight spot. You don’t have a choice; you have to focus on one thing—getting the order any way you can. It’s a do-or-die situation.

I admit, when your client has budget concerns, mentioning the words premium paper seems like a death sentence. But...

Yes, there is a BUT. I know the one thing we can all agree on is that a premium sheet allows for more impact when used for the right projects. It helps the printed piece to demand attention by creating that extra oomph.

(If you missed my musings on the impact a premium sheet can make on your client’s design, take a moment to catch up by reading the blog post.)

But, oomph is not the only consideration when advising your client to choose a premium sheet.

The stress of handling a premium job
Look at your ink coverage and your finishing techniques. If you have a solid PMS background, a lesser sheet might give it that mottled look. Is that really what your client had in mind? If your client asks for specific finishing techniques, and believe me, they have a clear idea how the end result should look, make sure the paper you recommend can handle them—all of them.

In last week’s post, I featured a certificate of the New York Rock Exchange that had to go through the press 11 times. Yes, 11 times. And this was only on the finishing side. A mere mortal paper would not have withstood this challenge. Only a premium paper could.

“If a client expects perfection in a printed piece—like a Trump property marketing piece—then it makes sense to recommend a premium sheet,” Emily chimed in with one of my LinkedIn groups. The Donald would not be pleased with a lesser quality.

Managing expectations
And this is the key point when selecting paper: Clients are naturally disappointed when the result they get is different from what they expected.

Your clients might not be paper savvy, with less and less paper education available to them, so it is up to you to guide them. If you want to have loyal, repeat clients, show them you care about their projects.

“Abject financial times have forced us to do our jobs smarter (or loose them),” says Art Webb, account executive at Panoramic Press. “Many savvy marketers understand that they must partner with equally savvy manufacturers to execute on promises they’ve made to their clients.”

Savvy yes, but not selling out.

And in the case of a trust-building, attention-getting, brand-critical piece, why take away your client’s possibility of success to save pennies on the paper side?

Show them you have their best interest at heart
The key is:
  • knowing when a cheaper sheet will do and when it has to be top of the line;
  • to match the paper to the project and the desired outcome;
  • to choose the paper that can produce the results you promised and ultimately keep your clients happy. Premium happy.
 

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