The commercial printing industry has been through quite the roller coaster over the last decade. With the nearly universal use of the internet and significant advancements to in-office printers, many thought the entire industry would go the way of the original printing press. However, commercial printing has enjoyed a sort of renaissance of late. As people's email inboxes are flooded with spam and marketing messages (70% get relegated straight to the 'trash' folder), direct mail is often a better alternative to capturing the attention of your audience.
Did you know there are more commercial printing plants in the United States than McDonald's outlets? A truly overwhelming statistic! With the plethora of options how do you choose the printing partner that best suits your needs? Below we have a short list of factors to consider when choosing a printer for your next job.
But first a Public Service Announcement: I am often surprised by how many times I hear, "Oh, we are just going to run these (insert print job here) off on our printer here at the office." This is most generally not the best best option except for the smallest print runs. Quality is not nearly as high as the digital presses that most commercial printers have. Often the only costs that are figured into this are the hard costs like paper and toner. Even toner, which can be very expensive depending on the machine. Also, the soft costs are not accounted for, such as spoilage and employee time. Please take these items into account before electing to run a job on your own.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Quality - Shiny new equipment isn't necessarily an indication of top quality, and older "outdated" equipment certainly doesn't beget a low quality product. Older, well maintained (and well operated) equipment will always outperform a brand new press if it is not properly maintained. That being said, perfection is something that all printers strive for on every job. However, this is an imperfect industry. Mistakes are inevitable, it's how they recover from those mistakes.
Customer Service - Commercial printing is a service industry. All other things being equal, level of customer service is often the determining factor in chosing a print partner. And shouldn't it be? In my opinion, customer service should be given equal (or greater) weight as other determining factors. Would you rather pay a little bit less and receive sub-par customer service, or pay a little more to work with a competent partner who is committed to your company's success as much as his/her own?
Turn Around Time - The question every Des Moines printer is asked several times a day, "How soon can you have this done?" It is not uncommon for us to have to turn jobs in 24 hours or even less. Often times smaller printers can turn jobs more quickly than larger shops because of more fluid schedules and several other factors. My best advice is to be upfront about your turn time needs and expectations.
Price - Price is king in the current business climate. Often the only factor marketers consider when choosing a printer for a project. Price is important, especially for our friends in the non-profit world. Price is important, but the other factors mentioned above are just as important. Make sure you are getting a true "apples to apples" comparison.
Choosing a commercial printing partner is an important part of your marketing plan. Find a company who gives you the right mix of all the above elements. A company who embodies the same values as you.