As a print buyer, designer, and marketer, there are a lot of considerations that have to be made when choosing the paper, printer, and print method – not every scenario/option may be suitable for the end use and goal you are trying to achieve. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work a variety of projects; here are some considerations that I have had to look at when making decisions on who I had print my jobs and how – it may seem obvious but when you’re venturing into new, unknown territory sometimes the options can be overwhelming.
The end use and customer will probably be the biggest consideration when choosing your paper and print method. The mass produced Sunday newspaper circular we get every week doesn’t need to have the same look and the feel (nor should it) as a high end jewelry catalog or automotive direct mail piece we get in the mail. I would also expect the recipient’s expectations to be a little different as well. With all of the advancements in digital and inkjet printing technologies over the last few years, customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to fully variable, targeted pieces – take advantage of that! Also, look at what your competitors are doing. I’m not saying copy them, but if your competitor is printing on Cougar® and you are printing on newsprint, ask yourself…how does that look to my customer?
Volumes & Budget
I wish this wasn’t something we needed to contend with but the reality is…budgets and volumes are ALWAYS a consideration. Whether you need to blanket the entire country with 50,000,000 pieces or you only need to print 100 pieces, the print method and paper will need to be taken into consideration. I’ve had customers that loved the look of offset but the cost just to make plates, start up the press, and do the make ready blew their budget. This provided opportunities to look at alternative print methods like screen printing or digital printing, just make sure to set level expectations for your customer. Provide dummies and printed samples.
Temporary Versus Permanent
This is a big one when choosing a stock and print method, the longevity and location of a printed piece will play a huge part in these decisions. All sorts of factors need to be taken into consideration – indoor/outdoor, is it in direct sunlight, will it be in contact with heat/cold, will there be contact with it, and even will it be in contact with moisture (I worked with a national pet retailer that couldn’t have any paper signs down close to the floor – I’ll let you figure it out)? One project that comes to mind was a customer loyalty piece we produced that included a barcoded key fob, after trial and error (and a few hundred times of putting it in and taking it out of my pocket with keys, change, etc.) we landed on a stock/print solution that worked for us, but it wasn’t evident at first.
At the end of the day, the best advice I can give to anyone looking to produce a job is talk to their printer and paper merchant when it comes time to start looking at options. They are the best resources when it comes to providing recommendations on formats, papers, and print methods – and they truly are the experts when it comes to giving you the desired outcome you are looking for.