How to Choose a Printing Company

The aim of this article is to share the benefit of our experience and outline some useful steps to help you select the right printing company for your print job. The reality is there are many options available, from your local printer to online services printers based across the globe. So how do you ensure you are going to get a quality, value for money solution? The fact is that your marketing collateral will leave a lasting impression on your prospects and it pays to get it right and deliver a professional finish! If the quality of your printed materials is not good, then your prospects may well consider that your products or services are not good quality as well. This step-by-step guide will help ensure you select the right printer for your project.

1) Visit their premises.

Your print job is important, so where possible it’s worth visiting the printer yourself, touring their facilities to check out how they perform, ask questions, talk to the staff and generally get a feel for how they operate. The quality and presentation of their premises will reflect the quality of work they produce.  Ensure you meet your account handler and see if there is a rapport between you.

2) Check the quality of work – Don’t sacrifice quality for price!

Ask to see samples of recent work from your short-listed printers that reflect the specification of your project so you can make like-for-like comparisons. Check if the finish is to the standard and quality you require – is there any smudging of the ink – or mis-registered text? Are the images clear or blurred? The reality is that going for the cheapest option can prove a false economy. If the products printed are not up to standard this will reflect badly on your brand.  Low price often means low quality, because companies can use cheap ink and paper to be able to offer very low cost printing. Furthermore low costs can also mean your job gets printed at the same time as other customers – which can affect your lead times & the finishing quality. We’d recommend choosing a printing company that is a bit more expensive but that offers good quality and value for money.

3)Investigate the level of customer service you will receive.

Find out how your account will be managed– you need to be able to trust your printer and your account handler. Ensure that they are open & honest and will deliver a professional service with good communication and client management skills. Ideally you should look for a printer who can manage your project in its entirety, from print, personalisation, collation, finishing, binding, storage and fulfilment. It is far more cost-effective and efficient if the same company handles every step.

4)Check the reputation of the company

Look at the printer’s website and review their client list, look at their experience in printing, how long have they been established? Don’t be afraid to ask for existing customers’ references and personal recommendations. Use social media like LinkedIn and Twitter to check on other client experiences. It’s worth doing as much research as you can up front!

5)Investigate the printer’s ‘green credentials’.

If you use a printer who does not manage its carbon footprint then this could reflect badly on your business. Look for a printer who is committed to the care of the environment, prevention of pollution, and efficient use of natural resources. Check if they have FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC accreditations. Many printers are now ISO 14001 accredited and offer recycled paper and environmentally-friendly inks to print your marketing collateral.

6)Choose the right format of printer for your job.

The type of printing press the company uses is important, because it will determine the cost and to some extent the quality of your job and the turnaround time. Many digital printers now offer good quality results at low cost for low volume print runs e.g. 200 copies and these can be turned around very quickly from receipt of artwork. However litho printing will be cheaper for larger quantities and produces higher quality print with the option for special finishes or print effects such as foil or spot colour.

Finally…be loyal to your print provider!

Once you have found a good printer offering a quality, value for money product and excellent customer service then stay loyal! Good working relationships with your printer will potentially enable you to get better service such as volume discounts, faster turnaround and personal delivery.

How to get the most from CDP Online

Every day business people enter a print shop with an emergency or impossible deadline. They often expect miracles by the people behind the counter. However with a little more forethought and planning, potential stress and panic can be avoided. Follow these tips to a stress-free experience with a printer. Then you can focus on the meeting, presentation or proposal and not on whether you will show up with the quality materials you need.

Do

open a dialog
submit PDF Files
use the right color for the job
plan ahead
consider traditional snail mail

Don’t

download images from websites for use in printing
think any old paper will do
assume it will look like what’s on the monitor
assume that everything is correct
choose a printer based on lowest estimate

Do
Do open a dialog

With most printers, consultation is free. If you are thinking about a new project or design, before you spend the time designing it yourself, talk to your printer about what your main objectives and goals are for the project. We can advise you on: the best application to create your document, proper margins, color, paper stock, timing, and anything you might need to know ahead of time. Consultation is a good way to avoid the costs involved with correcting your document or worse, redoing you job.

Do submit PDF Files

When in doubt about file format, use PDF or Portable Document Format. It is the industry standard for workflow. You can create a PDF from pretty much any application these days and anyone can open it on any computer on any platform. There are still specific things you might need to know depending on your file, so it doesn’t hurt to ask questions. The worst case scenarios is that we have something to look and can let you know if its something we can work with, easily correct or what you need to do on your end to ensure you are happy with your job!

Do use the right color for the job

Is this going to be a two-color business card or a four color brochure? Specifying the right kind of color for you output device is very important. The industry standard for matching color is the Pantone Matching System. They make extensive color books for reference, pretty much any printer or designer will have one. Most full color is out put on a CMYK device. CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Cyan and Black (K). Specify the right color for the job and get it the way you want it to look. Colors on your computer screen don’t always look the way they will print as screens use an RGB (Red Green Blue) color space.

Do plan ahead

It is never too soon to start thinking about a project. Talk to your printer and plan a realistic timeline for your project. Consider factoring in time for consultation, quoting, design, review and proofing, approval of a print-ready piece, then production time. Many factors play into each of these steps. If possible, allow at least three weeks for an average project.

Do consider traditional snail mail

Snail mail is still alive and kicking. Getting snazzy printed materials in front of potential customers still works. Talk to your printer about cost effective ways to use the power of print and mail to attract customers. Moreover, you can use technology as an integral part of your traditional direct mailer. Variable data printing, for example, allows for customization of direct mail during the printing process based on your customer database, allowing you to send the right message to the right person.

Don’t
Do not download images from websites for use in printing

Images used on the web are raster-based images. This means everything is broken down into small units called pixels. If you don’t have enough pixels in your document then it’s going to look like a mosaic. This is called pixelation or low resolution and it doesn’t look good. A good rule of thumb for anything is to start at 300 dpi, or dots per inch.

Do not think any old paper will do

The basis weight of a given grade of paper is defined as the weight (in pounds) of 500 standard-sized sheets of that paper. With that in mind, here are different examples of paper grades and their respective basis weights. Rely on your printer for advice on the pros and cons to each paper type and weight.

Bond: Most commonly used for letterhead, business forms and copying. Typical basis weights are16# for forms, 20# for copying and 24# for stationery.

Text: A high-quality grade paper with a lot of surface texture. Basis weights range from 60# to 100# with the most common being 70# or 80#.

Uncoated Book: The most common grade for offset printing. Typically 50# to 70#.

Coated Book: Has a glossy finish that yields vivid colors and overall excellent reproduction. Basis weights range from 30# to 70# for web press, and 60# to 110# for sheet press.

Cover: Used in creating business cards, postcards and book covers. Can be either coated or uncoated. Basis weights for this grade are 60#, 65#, 80# or 100#.

Do not assume it will look like what’s on the monitor

Do not think what you see on your monitor will match what you see on paper. The technology of design, layout and printing has come a long way to the point where much of the work is done in a WSYWIG (What You See Is What You Get) digital environment. However, there are sometimes noticeable differences in color calibration and spatial conformity from monitor to monitor and consequently from screen to print.

The process for minimizing any variance begins with adjusting your monitor for optimal color and clarity according to the manufacturer’s recommendations as outlined within its product manual or website. Doing this will alleviate a number of potential issues.

Beyond that, for the greatest conformity in color from screen to print, there are tools available that will ensure exact color calibration. Perhaps you have already invested in such a tool. If so, let us know what you use and we’ll work with you to achieve the best results. If you are considering investing in a color calibration tool, talk to us first and we’ll be happy to offer our advice.

Do not assume that everything is correct

Ask for a proof. I make mistakes. You make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. To try and minimize errors we offer a proof on pretty much any job. Proofing lets you see what the colors are going to look like, what the text is going to look like, and where everything is going to fall. So, read your proof. Read it again. Have your friend read it. Stop a stranger on the street and ask for their opinion. Scrutinize! The proofing stage is the time to make and find mistakes! Nobody’s judging, so let’s fix it now!

Do not choose a printer based on lowest estimate

Basing your decision to work with a particular printer solely on price, you could be sorry. There is no guarantee that they will stand behind their work if there is an error. You could end up spending more than you bargained for. Ask some key questions about service and work guarantees. Ask to see samples. When you choose a printer, consider capabilities, customer service and price. If all three are in place, you’ve made a solid decision.

Summary

Communication, realistic expectations, and planning are the keys to a successful experience in working with a professional print shop. With a bit of research and insight, you will understand what to expect and how to get exactly what you want, every time!