Top 7 Print-Buying Secrets Every Business Person Should Know
By Margie Gallo Dana
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It's a fact of life: if you're in business, you'll need to spend money on commercial printing. At the very least, you'll require high-quality stationery products and other corporate identity materials, and eventually you may require a wider range of marketing and product materials. But printing is technical as well as intimidating to most consumers. It shouldn't be.
Here are seven insider's tips about buying printing to help guide you through it. Keep this industry information tucked in your mind as you search for a printer. This sleepy, mammoth industry (there are about 58,000 commercial printers in the US today!) has undergone incredible technological changes -- so make sure you're using tomorrow's printers....today!
Here are seven print-buying secrets to help you select the right printer and buy smart:
- Not every printer is created equal. Printers have niches, depending largely on their equipment. Some do 4-color; others donít. Some specialize in really long runs (the Web printers), and others focus on short runs, using digital presses. Some print shops offer design and desktop publishing services; others just print what you give them. The challenge is finding the right one for you. Ask lots of questions to determine whether a printer has handled your type of work before. Get three estimates from three vendors to help you decide.
- Buy service, not price. Most printers can print "pleasing" color, or else theyíd be out of business. So, shop for service when looking for a printer. With competition so fierce, printers are beefing up their value-added services to distinguish themselves from one another. The less you know, the more help youíll need from your printer. Find one whoís willing to teach you, willing to offer cost-saving suggestions.
- Local is nice but not necessary. As long as your printer delivers good quality at a price you can afford, and your salesperson is responsive, donít hesitate to look outside your own backyard for a printer. You will probably send your files digitally to your printer anyway and also get digital proofs back. If your deadline is met, who cares if the printerís in another state?
- Price breaks donít always matter. Thanks to new digital presses, you can now print only what you need. Determining print quantities is rarely easy. Be conservative. Find out how long your content is likely to remain unchanged and print only what you need.
- The devil is in the details. Every little speck of information about your print job can affect the price and the schedule. A printer builds each job as it comes in -- nothing is off-the-shelf. For each job you need, provide the printer with detailed job specs early in the process and get a written estimate. As specs change (and they will), request a revised estimate. Youíre responsible for keeping your printer informed.
- The Mac still rules. For optimum printing success, you canít beat Mac files. The Mac OS is still the #1 platform preferred by printers everywhere, despite what your IT guys tell you. Companies mistakenly assume that Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher programs are easily handled by offset printers, but these programs were designed for output to a laser printer or color copier -- not a commercial press. For one thing, you canít separate these files into colors automatically.
- A new kid on the block: dot.com printers. Thereís new competition for printers in the form of Web-based printing services. About 70 different e-commerce providers currently engage in printing activity. Consumers now have an alternative to selecting, procuring, and communicating with print manufacturers. As corporate buying behavior shifts to the Web, itís likely to include print buying.
Good printing is a masterful combination of science and art. Educating yourself about printing is the smartest first step you can take as you search for a commercial printer. Your ultimate goal should be to develop a long-term relationship with one or more trusted vendors -- why would you want to start this search all over again?
Margie Gallo Dana is president of Dana Consulting in Chestnut Hill, MA. Her firm helps printers market themselves better to customers and helps business people make smart decisions about printing. Margie sends out a free PRINT TIP OF THE WEEK via email.
To subscribe, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org Or she can be reached at (617) 730-5951. A public speaker and an author, Margie's mission is to eliminate the misconceptions between consumers and the printing industry.
118 Arlington Rd
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Article Submitted On: August 14, 2000