A huge percentage of modern businesses are still in need of print materials. Maybe it’s a promotional flyer, a company brochure, or a quarterly magazine that talks about issues facing the industry. Maybe it’s a direct mail marketing campaign designed to reach new customers (or win back old ones) over a wider geographical area. There are all kinds of possibilities when it comes to print — and even though so much of the business world has gone digital, this need for physically printed materials doesn’t appear to be diminishing. If anything, the need for quality printed designs and materials is greater than ever.
But there are a lot of stories out there. If you talk to companies who have hired printers and print specialists to meet their needs, you’ll start to hear some of these stories. Not all of them involve success. In fact, some of these stories involve downright frustration and lost money.
If you look at the “ moral” or lesson of these stories, it’s usually two-fold. First, communication between clients and printers is key. Too often, clients and printers assume too much. They assume that the other party understands their project, their branding, their goals and needs when it comes to a particular project or campaign. Assumptions and misunderstandings are, of course, the responsibility of both parties —but a greater amount of responsibility rests with the printer. This is the professional who should know how to guide the client through the creative process, as well as the production process and the completion of further objectives (as in a direct mail campaign).
The second moral of these stories is that not all print specialists are the same. There are seasoned experts who make use of the most modern equipment and printing techniques, and there are companies who operate more like “ moonlighters,” using outdated equipment and tackling projects on a piecemeal basis. These are the companies you generally want to avoid. The results of their work can usually be spotted by low and mediocre review scores on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and other platforms that rate businesses. Disorganized web sites, long wait times to hear back from someone about a potential job, and murky fee structures are some of the other warning signs to look for.
Being a next-generation print specialist is not just about the equipment. Obviously, it is important to have reliable tools and hardware that produce impeccable results, whether it’s a simple flyer or an elaborate booklet. But being a “ next-gen” printer is also about service and communication. It’s about understanding the marketing landscape, both digital and physical, and how businesses are leveraging them in unique ways. It’s about being on top of things when it comes to direct mail campaigns, and delivering a meaningful analysis that puts tangible results at the forefront of the conversation. If you manage to find a printing specialist who checks all of these boxes, your chances of a successful print project will be exponentially higher. If not, printing will remain something of a slot machine in which you never know what’s going to come up.