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What to consider when looking for a print professional…

Print when correctly done is a very powerful tool in any business/organisations marketing arsenal. Having the right printer on board is essential, when they understand you, your needs and objectives they can help you achieve more.

Supporting you to get the best from graphic design, production requirements, and your distribution and usage methods. Finding the right print partner can make this easier for you.

Building a great relationship with a printer, you might want to consider the following points

Competence and Quality

Competence and quality are often the most critical factors in weighing commercial print options. Although it can be challenging to evaluate skill levels before you’ve worked with someone, there are several indicators to look for. Look at online reviews, who is talking about the work a printer has done. Look up key staff on Linkedin, this will speak volumes, how much experience have they got? What are they verified for on Linkedin? Request to see samples of jobs done for other customers. Inquire about areas of specialization and if bundled pricing or services are included. Also, ask your printer what work steps they see as critical for obtaining good results. If you know in advance how they prefer to manage projects, it helps ensure good workflow and communication along the way.

Production Capacity

This might seem an odd statement, “real or fake?” be aware of print brokers, professing to print themselves. (A good print broker will have a raft of trade suppliers to help achieve great pricing and performance for you) Does a printer’s social media /website show an actual print studio/press hall? Does their website have a Plant List on it? This will then dictate their specialities and show their potential capacity to perform.

Collaborative power

In this day and age, print companies fall into 2 categories, small artisan boutique or big internet sheds. This will show how they do customer service. The smaller sized firms you will find that the person you are dealing with is hands-on. Equally the bigger the business, you are more likely to have dedicated account handlers. This will affect the style of communication you will be engaged with. Ultimately if you want a relationship which will flex with you, the smaller establishment, once you’ve built up a rapport will reap more results for you.  

Service and performance

When dealing with any printer, they know they are a service industry. Their production capacity will be geared up to meet customer needs (providing they are realistic). However, a valid point to note, if you do require express service, expect to pay a premium, if a business is re-scheduling their work to accommodate you this is a reasonable request. A well-established print house will be able to facilitate a lot more than just print, their connections with logistics and postage services will be advantageous too. 

Environmental Responsibility

A good print house will be committed to environmentally friendly standards and procedures. A wealth of products are available to meet your expectations when it comes to eco-standards, from the specification of paper and ink, and carbon capture. A good print partner will be able to tell you a lot about their processes and their impact. We are signed up to “Printers against plastic” and offer alternatives where possible to plastic in products.

Locality and national reach

For some clients, having a print house in easy reach is essential, it helps them to perform and deliver the right solutions at the right time for their businesses. Equally, some clients do use us from a distance, distance is nothing now with video conferencing. Coupled with efficient courier networks, how you chose to work is down to you. We assist our clients from all over the UK.

The remit of a good printer isn’t just getting the image on the paper. Helping you to achieve more with your marketing or communications is at the heart of what we do. Understanding your organisations brand is key to us. We will ask questions to understand more, make suggestions to further your offering, above all ensuring you get the right results.  

Getting the partnership between you and your printer can drive results which last for years.

It’s what it is…

Back in the early 1990’s WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) was the buzz acronym. The mantra of this probably rings truer today than ever before. Not with desktop publishing, where the acronym came from, but in sales and product delivery. Today it seems ever more so that that this definition has slipped. But yet it is true. Is it the fact we now have a generation who expect anything?

Or is it that the realisation of service, attention to detail, not feeling like a ticket number in a virtual queue, drives more value than the face value of a product? In an industry where yes you can buy product stupidly priced online, is the satisfaction there? We have refused from the beginning to allow ourselves to be pushed into this arena. It simply doesn’t work for us. We actively encourage a positive relationship, where understanding our customers is paramount to us growing what we do.

Asking questions about what you want with your print provides us with the opportunity to ensure you get the right product or right service. Last week the print gods aligned some great examples of why starting with the words of “the price is…” really don’t pay.

True story, we accept that clients will look around, and will place print elsewhere. Needless to say, a call at 12 noon of a Friday with… “we’ve been let down, can you…” really drives home what we do. Less than 18 hours later their job was ready for collection. Yes, it was a rush premium job, yes, we had to get a same-day drop from one of paper merchants to print the job, yes, we stopped well into the evening to get the job done. Points of learning, given more notice, we could control the costs, thus bringing it in more on a sensible budget. So why did they place it elsewhere, who knows (they do) I suspect a rock bottom cheap price.

Another true story… After 2-3 years of courting a prospective client, they have recently come on board, I’m hopeful they will stay on board with us. However, we found that our attention to detail asking questions about their brand, understanding their pitch to their clients, resulted in a job, which has shifted perceptions of what they can do with print. It’s also made them question a lot of the content they use on social media.

Regardless of what you do, the end result is the key. Return on investment yes is important. The right planning, ensuring you get what you want when you need to deliver a project is key. Longevity and method are more significant than a cheap hit which doesn’t understand your needs from being a number in a virtual queue. So perhaps the wise print buyer knows that a low-ticket price doesn’t fully deliver everything and “What You DON’T See Is What You Get”

Genuine, Real and Accredited

Over several weeks, it’s become very apparent that smoke and mirrors can rule the roost. In a period where a client working with a third party has been challenged with poor digital materials, knowing what you are working with becomes hard, especially if you want consistency.

A mish-mash of artwork, poor quality PDF’s, differing standards and lack of the right stuff, just leaves a sour taste with all involved.

Anyone can create artwork – Wrong!

It might seem that way, but a seasoned experienced professional, will create artwork which is fit for purpose, ensure reproduction, and be robust. The construction of the elements on a page is critical to sharp good clear reproduction. A good graphic designer or print professional will use Indesign or Quark for page layout. Why? Both these software packages work with the right file formats for important, they have built-in colour management.

My logo is a PNG file – Ouch!

A good print professional/graphic designer will look for a logo to be a vector-based file, which means it will be sharp and reproduce at whatever size. It also allows for a multitude of reproduction methods to be used, from print, garments to signage. Don’t be fooled by the file size. A good quality one can be small when it’s a vector-based file like and .eps .ai .svg .pdf. Equally when we see a .jpg or .png in kb (yes very small size) we know it won’t reproduce with any clarity.

All PDF files are the same – Wrong! 

PDF files can be created for different purposes, and to a technical eye, there are 100s of different specifications, which they can be created to. This varies with how they handle fonts, manage colour, the level they compress images to and many other items. So not all PDF files are artwork. If you need to ask, PDF x1a and PDF x4 are the standards we use.

So, in the same way, you won’t approach a fishmonger to do the conveyancing on your house sale. A good print professional, when handling your project fully, will give you consistent results, artwork which will reproduce sharply and consistently, logos which have clarity, along with PDF’s which print with accuracy. Please note if you require a print specification – ask whoever is doing your artwork, we use a separate setting for proofing oppose to printing.

Point worth noting, printers are not web designers, and likewise, web designers are not printers. Just they both design and make pretty pages doesn’t mean they have the same skill sets.

So commissioning a piece of print, check that whoever is doing your artwork is experienced and knows what they are doing. Check their Linkedin profile, see what clients say about them. As the phrase goes compare Apple with Apples and not Pears.





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