Printers’ Rant is Justified: Print Buyer Specs are Incomplete
Sometimes this industry amazes me with its fast-forward technologies and new ways of doing businesses, and then sometimes. . .not so much. Some things have stayed the same for ages and you’ve got to wonder. . .why? One example is print buyers’ bid sheets. Most buying companies are working off the same bid sheet that they did 10 or 20 years ago.
It’s true that we still need to communicate all the regular specs, such as how many pieces get printed, the type of paper and ink colors. But where’s the finesse? Today we have plenty of advanced capabilities for snazzy technologies like color management and variable-data printing. But where’s the nomenclature to instruct solution providers on what we (buyers) expect from these more sophisticated technologies and projects? It seems to me that we have a gap between what we are able to do and how to communicate what we want.
Printers are often criticized for the variance in their print quotes, but perhaps print buyers bear part of the responsibility. The less defined the specifications, the higher the variability in interpreting the specs and the more variance in printers’ quotes. Proper communication for a print project assumes that the buyer can correctly identify all the specifications. But specifications are just one part of the story. As industry consultant Dick Gorelick likes to say, there’s a difference between specifications and expectations. It’s critical to be able to communicate the more nuanced expectations of a print project that directly impact larger issues of branding and ROI.
In a PBO quick poll to printers last week, we asked 37 top printers, “What is your greatest challenge when working with current customers?” The majority, 54%, said that “receiving accurate and complete specifications” was more challenging than even getting enough “face time” with current customers or meeting customers’ increasingly short turnaround times.
What suggestions do you have to help customers more effectively describe their projects and what they expect? What would you like to see on customer’s bid sheets that they currently aren’t including?