Brand Managers, Marketing folk of all kinds and ALL business owners thinking about promotion will, at some point, have to assume the mantel of ‘Print Buyer’.
Print buying is a multi-faceted task with many CRUCIAL elements to consider, if you want your job to be run correctly and at a reasonable cost.
Before you run screaming at the daunting prospect ahead of you and drop said tasks on someone else’s desk, here’s a few pointers to help smooth the process and get you top results with the minimum of grief (if any).
1. Develop good artwork with the help of a good designer. If you don’t have an in-house design team then it’s worth spending a little to get the ball rolling with flair and expertise so, ultimately, what you are going to get printed is as strong and useful as is possible. (If your artwork isn’t up to scratch then the whole process is, arguably, pointless – why scupper yourself?)
2. With your designer work out an accurate print spec, considering colours, special finishes, stock type, quantities, delivery schedule and anything else that springs to mind. Getting all this straight will mean you can approach print companies with a clear intention and makes it much easier for them to price your job accurately.
3. Source good, reputable print companies who can carry out your job to the highest standard. (Ask around, read online reviews – don’t be afraid to ask for samples or evidence of previous completed projects. Unfortunately, there ARE cowboys out there who will promise you the world and can’t complete when it comes to fulfilment.) Write out your spec with all details and email your chosen companies for pricing. The reputable ones will get back to you within 48hrs.
4. Consider all the quotes you receive by return and compare intricacies of stock type, delivery and turnaround time in choosing your preferred supplier. (Note and advice: The cheapest quote is not always the best option. Often crucial elements are left out of a quote to make it appear cheaper, but which amazingly reappear when it comes to invoicing).
5. Reply to your preferred printer with your intention to employ their services and arrange a completion schedule. This will depend on size of your project and can be anything from 1 day to a month or more. Ensure this is established at the start to prevent disappointment. Similarly, if you’re not sure, ask your printer in what format they want artwork sent to them. Doing this correctly will also prevent unnecessary delays. (Your designer can help you with all this).
By the way, if you don’t have design – or need amendments – ask your print company to help. Most should be able to assist you or offer design.
6. Send your files as directed. Request a proof (by email, or physical copy in the post) if you require one, or want to be absolutely sure before you press ‘go’ on a job. For larger jobs, this is an advisable route to take. (Sometimes proofing can incur a small cost but it is worth it – better a small cost than a massive outlay on an incorrect job).
7. When you receive your proof, review it carefully. Check colours, text and resolution. Get a few people to look at it – just to be sure. If you have any amendments or queries, let the printer know – they won’t mind – this is the purpose of the proofing process. Get a second, third or multiple proofs if needs be.
8. When you are entirely satisfied, send your approval. Your time schedule begins from the next working day for the job completion.
9. Let the printer proceed now. Feel free to drop an email or phone call making sure everything is on track and, at the same time, keeping a good channel of communication open.
10. While your job’s being printed, you can produce any necessary related paperwork for smooth payment. Purchase Orders etc.
11. Wait for your job to arrive. That’s it! You’re done! You are now the official Print Buyer.
So there’s the basic working schedule for small scale and corporate Print Buyers alike. Crucially, the best results will come, as with most scenarios, from strong, clear, friendly communication with your creative team/contact and your carefully chosen print suppliers. When you hit on a good combination of both, then work with them again!
Printing and design may seem like a minefield to many but it doesn’t need to be. Just ask!