Seven Tips to Source Your Partner In Print

When first impressions count, an exceptional print production company is a powerful ally in helping to make your product or service stand out from the crowd. When searching for a printer, here are some of Rawson Print Co.’s most important tips to consider for your business.

Do your homework… With a high level of competition in commercial printing services, the more research you do about the production capabilities of your printer and the standard of quality that they are proven to produce, the more likely you are to achieve a partnership aligned with your own expectations for your product.

An obvious but sometimes overlooked focus of your research should be on the production portfolio and customer service history of your printer. Potential clients can request the commercial printer’s portfolio and this will provide a good overview of the printer’s capabilities, while looking at existing physical samples in the market will provide a tangible indication of the quality you can expect.

Make sure you are working with a subject matter expert who specialises in your specific needs.

Are they really listening? An essential consideration is the level of client support and engagement your printer is able to offer once the reassuring sales pitch has concluded. Do they have an informed understanding of your business and your priorities?

Consistent, clear and reciprocal communication with your printing partner is key to maintaining quality control. When job specifications change at short notice, an established and responsive relationship is crucial.

Some printing services may be unable to offer the detailed level of support that your business requires, meaning this should be a key factor in making your decision.

Can they help bang the drum? As part of their consultancy, many printers can offer advice on designing your product to optimise market penetration. While this can be as basic as advising on layout, text and colour, some printing services feature an in-house marketing department to discuss and develop your publicity targets. Many printers will also have existing relationships with trusted graphic design services and can provide valuable recommendations.

Are they the person you want beside you in a crisis? Acknowledging that the luxury of lead-time is not always a reality, it is extremely important to have confidence in your printer’s ability to meet evolving requirements. Do they have the capacity to deliver in an emergency?

What turnaround times can they guarantee for proofs already on file, or for designs not yet in the system? While they may be able to deliver a consistent level of quality and speed of delivery for scheduled work, how effectively can they respond to the unanticipated scenarios inherent to your business needs?

Are you working directly with the manufacturer? Quite often customers think they are dealing directly with the manufacturer, only to find out that their product has been subcontracted to another company, or worst still, sent offshore to another country. Dealing directly with a company who actually produces the product ensures you have much better control over quality control and delivery times, and communication is not lost in translation.    

Are they the right flexible friend? As important as flexibility of turnaround time is the ability of your printer to adapt to both the changing market environment and to the evolving requirements of your brief. A key assessment to make of any printing service is can they offer the flexibility required for you to meet changing conditions, such as a reduced budget?

Do they have the supplier relationships that could possibly negotiate alternative and more affordable print stock? Do they have storage available for back-up inventory with overprinting or pick, pack and distribution services? Can they deliver a cheaper product, an expanded run, or a product customised to a specific audience or promotion while still maintaining an acceptable level of brand consistency?

Depending on the job at hand, your decision on which printer to partner with can often come down to the project itself. For example, a long run catalogue printer is certainly not the right choice for your bespoke property book, or asking an instant printer to manage the production of your packaging cartons may not achieve the results you were looking for? Once again, invest some time into reviewing their previous projects.

Long-term relationship material? Variables such as colours, materials, finishing and pricing can all be negotiated. However, the relationship you have with your printing services provider should reflect the fact that they are essentially a key business partner.

The tone of engagement should be a mutual investment in communication, one defined by a level of care and attention that is unique to your business needs. The more collaborative and dynamic the service your printer can offer, the more effective your creative partnership will be.

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