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Print Confessions

By Graphic Arts Professionals

About Print

Print Confessions is brought to you by Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi. Each week, read the thoughts of a different graphic arts professional who will share a point of view that can only be written anonymously, and then join in the conversation by posting a comment.

What to Look for in a Printer

The list of things to look for in a printer is long and as varied as the people who buy print. But since buying and selling communication services is still all about relationships, the following are a few broad concepts to consider before getting down to product/equipment based specifics:

• Excellence in communication.

On the list of things to look for in choosing a printing company with which you intend to establish a relationship, excellence in communication should be at the top. From the first contact point to product delivery, prompt and accurate communication is the mark of a solid partner.

Since most printing projects are time sensitive and have a deadline of some kind, it’s critical to work with a company that respects your time lines. Proactive communication throughout the production process allows you and the printer to anticipate problems instead of reacting to them after the fact.

Printing is a complex business, with many production steps from the start to finish of each job. It’s critical, throughout each project, that timely, organized and detailed communications flow back and forth between you and your printer to ensure a successful outcome.

• Character, experience and personality.

It’s important to create a good “people fit” between you, the printing company you choose, and the production team handling your project in the printing plant. In the early stages of your selection process, with each printing company you decide to interview, begin your discussions with a person in senior management. Depending on the size and structure of the company, the most likely person to get you started properly will be the president of the company or the vice president of sales, and maybe in very large companies, a regional sales manager.

Share the size and scope of your print requirements to establish that your work fits the targeted market of the printing company. At this level of management in a company, the people have enough experience and awareness of the goals of their company to avoid wasting your time and theirs if your work isn’t a good fit for the printer’s operation and equipment capabilities.

If the fit is good, describe your level of experience and then open discussions with the execs about the likely requirements of the production team best equipped to effectively handle a client with your level of experience, communication requirements, and the type of print projects you do. Finally, ask this senior manager to put you in contact with the person or team leader he/she feels will be most effective in working with you, based on the background information you’ve provided.

• Niche fit.

In this age of increasing specialization in all fields technical, be aware that the best “industry leading” printing companies have developed product/service specialties that have become their industry niche. Within this niche, these companies excel and become superior, best-value partners for their clients. Choose a company within a niche that fits your immediate needs, and think further about the future of your company and the direction of the print partner you choose.

Best case-scenario is choosing a company with a direction and potential to grow and develop alongside your business. Make the correct choice and you’ll reduce the need to go through the selection process more often than is necessary.

• Forward-thinking company.

Think in terms of multimedia marketing. As communication becomes increasingly interactive, many printing companies have evolved to embrace forms of communication beyond print on paper. Industry leaders have carefully incorporated into their operations those forms of communication that have demonstrated powerful marketing synergy when joined with proven print marketing techniques.

In most cases, the strategic combination of print and electronic advertising and marketing campaigns produce response numbers far beyond the scope of either medium without the other. As a result, printing companies frequently offer multimedia services such as website design and launching capabilities, marketing programs that marry traditional print direct marketing with electronic marketing, or campaigns that combine printed and mailed marketing materials with offers directing the reader to pURLs for the collection of information and creation of valuable databases.

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