Greetings Paper and Print Lovers! My name is Deborah Corn and I am a recovering Print Buyer (crowd: Hello Deborah).
As a professional print customer in advertising agencies for over 25 years, I can admit (now) that there were times I just had no clue what I was doing. I specced jobs incorrectly, I sent specs to printers who couldn’t handle the job, I specced bad paper for the execution at hand and yes, I would imagine that every single file I ever submitted to a printer needed some sort of adjustment to print correctly. And those are just off the top of my head.
I am sharing some of my “wrongs” because I know I am not alone in these customer mistakes. I see every one of those situations as an opportunity for a Printer to strengthen their relationships with their customers, and here is how:
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Make sure you review the specs sent by print customers, and alert them to any issues before you send it to estimation. If you are a busy shop, it could be days before they get to it. If estimators kick it back not only does it waste more time but it could cost you the job. It also shows the customer that you didn’t review and that isn’t a good look for you. Trust that one of the other printers I bid with is going to tell me I made a mistake. When that has happened, I sat back and waited to see who else was going to notify me about it. Anyone who didn’t wasn’t notified about my work anymore.
This is a tough one. You want customers to know what equipment you have, however, the lists of specs and speeds and feeds talk will only work for some, and not for most customers. We certainly care what your equipment can do, but in the same way that we need a car to get us places, and don’t need to understand how the engine works. VIDEOS work best here! Show your equipment in action and save the website list for the array of printed products that can be created with it. Buyers can more easily understand the equipment capabilities and in turn, get excited about what they can produce. Most important, invite customers over when you get new toys and let them play. They will remember you and what your equipment can do from the experience you shared 20000 times more than a capabilities list.
Stop The Presses!
I only yelled that one time and it was over a very poor paper choice. To this day I still blame the printer for not stopping me. They should have known better. They should have insisted on a meeting before they agreed to print my job. They should have shown up with printed samples from the paper mill (or their merchant) showing me what types of executions were being produced, and which were being avoided. They should have warned me that they would take no responsibility for the outcome before I started printing, not during or after. It doesn’t matter that I wanted to use this specialty paper and specced it. What mattered was that it was a poor choice for the ink coverage I needed, and they should have helped me to realize that. Because of time, the job printed as specced and we (agency) sold it to the client as it was intentional to look mottled and that was the last time we did business with that printer.
File Fixes and Faux Pas
One of my favorite go-to printers had a proofreader. She saved me too many times to remember, after 90 people including clients had signed off as approved. I knew about her, so I could associate her value as a benefit even if their price was slightly higher during bidding. I guarantee you that same printer fixed production issues with my files and never told me. I guarantee you that every printer I have ever worked with has fixed my files, but only a few smart ones let me know about it. And once I knew, I thought of them differently. I believed they cared more and had better processes for pre-press. I believed my work would be better because they intervened. I associated more value with using them, and more value to our partnership. Don’t make the mistake of keeping your extra help a secret. Tactfully mention it after the job is printed, and offer gentle guidance on how to avoid the issues moving forward. Most important, reiterate that you have your customers’ back, and you will be there for them even when it’s not realized they are needed.
I could go on and on about customer errors that Printers could pre-empt and ways to pre-empt them, but I think you get my point. Look at the issues as a moment for you to stand out and save the day. If you don’t, someone else will. That is one mistake you won’t recover from.