Hello Blueliners! It’s such an honor to be invited by Domtar to share some of my stories and experience as a professional print buyer with you. It’s not lost on me that this is the home of COUGAR paper, which I’ve used a zillion times, and how cool it is to be here. I’m sure we will get along just fine since we already have something very important in common; we love paper!

 

My devotion to paper runs deep. It’s engrained in my soul. Paper is a design element, it’s a printing technology, is the tangible experience of print that makes it more than just a line item in an estimate. So why dear printers… whyyyyyyyyyy do you so often want to mess with my paper choice?

 

Ok, admittedly that was a rhetorical question. You have your reasons and I won’t doubt they come with anything but good intentions for your customers, but from their standpoint, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t:

 

Apples Require Apples. Many customers are required to triple bid, and if there are any swaps this process becomes a nightmare. Don’t be the cause of a nightmare. People wake up and do all they can to forget them.

 

Customers Have Clients. I’ve worked on many accounts for luxury brands over the years. Paper choice is not something taken lightly. Some companies have paper specified in their brand guidelines; others require samples sent for approvals before an estimate request is sent out.  There could have been months put into that paper spec, and any assumption that it is interchangeable could put you in the same category.

 

Creatives, et. al. There are a bunch of “light bulb jokes” for advertising, and the one relevant here goes like this: Q: How many Art Directors does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Why does it have to be a light bulb? If your print customers have gotten their creative team to agree on a light bulb, back them up and get them the exact light bulb they asked for, or you may get left in the dark.

 

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. While half of you are now singing this Aretha classic in your head, and the other half are wondering who Aretha is (gasp!), take a moment to reflect on how you would feel if you read through a menu, decided upon and ordered a steak to the perfect temperature, waited with anticipation for that juicy, charbroiled hunk to arrive, and were served fish instead, because the chef thought it was a better choice. EVEN if the chef is right, the decision to change your order is not one most people will swallow.

 

Teamwork For Dream Work. If your customers don’t feel safe that paper choices will be honored, and actions taken by your estimators result in causing your customers stress, the end is near. Print customers need partners, not printers playing their own game for the win.

 

I appreciate you reading this far, so here is your reward Printers… SOMETIMES YOU ARE RIGHT! Our paper choices may not work for our projects, there are those occasional mill items that require time and money we may not have, the paper weight may be too low or high for the printing and finishing requested, or just won’t make our work look the best it can be. I have been there, many times.  All I am saying is have the discussion, don’t just switch out the paper and send the estimate back.

 

This moment is actually a fantastic opportunity to work with your customers on a better choice, bring them samples if they don’t have any handy, and get the new paper approved as quickly as possible so they can revise their bids. You may not win the job, but you will win the respect, gratitude and loyalty of your customers, and they will be back as opposed to switching you out.

 

Until next time… Print Long and Prosper!