Top Six Communications Tips for Working with Commercial Printers
by Margie Dana
1. Give your printer as much detail as you can, as early as you can. You need to provide very detailed job specs (specifications) if you want a fair estimate. It will help prevent “surprises” when the job is done (I’m using scare quotes in this sentence for emphasis). Remember, every print job is unique. It’s built spec by spec.
2. Tell your printer how you prefer to be communicated with. Ideally, your printer will ask you, but in any case make sure the printer understands how often you want to be contacted during production, and by what means. Some people prefer phone calls; others, email.
3. Do everything in writing. Job specs change during the production cycle (think of quantities and delivery instructions, for example). You need to keep track. Changes can affect your price. Paper—or email—trails are critical.
4. Admit what you don’t understand, and seek a clearer explanation from your printer. I don’t understand people who are too proud to speak up and say, “I have no idea what that means,” when they hear a too-technical explanation. Printing has a language all its own. If anything is unclear about what’s happening with your job, just say so.
5. Make your priorities crystal clear. Different jobs have different priorities. Is the delivery date most important to you? The quality? The cost? Out with it! Again, your printer should ask you, but whether or not the printer asks, make sure the printer knows.
6. Ask your printer for input and creative suggestions. You may know exactly what you want and why, but perhaps you don’t. It’s extremely smart business to ask your printer for ideas. Maybe there’s a better way (more creative, more cost effective, quicker, “greener,” and so on) to produce what you want. Maybe a different paper would work better.
In my mind, this is where the real value of a printing company lies: in how the printer helps you get the best product possible, given your budget and your expectations.
Get your printers involved, as opposed to merely giving them “job orders.”
Margie Dana, who was a corporate print buyer for 15 years, is now an independent marketing specialist who focuses on improving the printer-buyer relationship. Her free weekly e-newsletter, Margie’s Print Tips, comes out every Monday. To learn more, visit printbuyersinternational.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2010 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.