Yogi Berra said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there." Even though that came out mangled, as did many things Yogi said, we know what he meant. This can be applied to business decisions... You have to be careful to know where you're going.
Regardless if you've just opened the doors on your new business, or if you've been in business for some time, some things remain constant when you are searching for a printer for your next printing project. Whether you are printing something as simple as business cards or letterhead, or if you are printing full color, multipage catalogs or annual reports, there are certain things to consider. From the finished product to the paper stock, from the ink to the size, every little detail needs to be considered carefully.
Here are four important points to consider when printing something:
1. Who are You Trying to Reach?
What is your target audience? What does your business do? Who do you serve? Are you a fast food restaurant catering to the busy traveler, or are you an assisted living facility whose clients will be senior citizens? Are you an "upscale" business, or a "down home" business? Does your business have a logo and established colors? What is the message you are trying to communicate? Do you want the same message repeated numerous times, or an ever-escalating message in a scheduled campaign? Are you offering a deal or a discount? Each question you can answer to define your focus will help decide what your printed materials should look like.
2. How Much Can You Spend?
It is important to determine what your marketing budget is. Every business should take the time to create a budget for everything, from cups to mops to salaries to electricity. Advertising should be a line item in that budget, and you should find products that fit within your budget.
Depending on your budget, the size of your company and the questions you answered above, the marketing materials you choose will vary.
Some companies just decide to print the basics...business cards, letterhead and envelopes. Others will print and mail postcards, either to a geographic area surrounding their business, or to their already existing client list. Yet others will go whole hog and have everything above, plus annual reports, brochures, flyers, CD / DVD mailers, catalogs, Website and Personalized URLs and magnetic signs.
3. What Can Your Printer Do?
What capabilities, products and services does your printer offer? Of course, unless you own your own printing press or high capacity printer, chances are you probably need a commercial printing company to help you create your materials. And with some 30,000 to 50,000 commercial printing companies in the United States, this means you will have to do some homework. Find out what capabilities the company has, what products and services they provide. For example, if you are printing postcards for a direct mail campaign, find out if your printer also provides mailing services. Another example would be, if you are planning to attend a trade show, does your printing company provide all of the trade show materials, from banners and posters to promotional products, such as pens or toys? If your printer is not local to you geographically, do they charge for delivery? If so, is it affordable within your budget?
4. How Good is Your Printing Company at Communicating?
How long does it take for your printer to communicate with you? The final thing to consider is how good is your printing company at communicating with you? How long does it take your printing company to get back to you when you ask questions via email or leave a phone message? Have they explained all their capabilities to you? Do they provide a quote and a scheduled date of delivery? Do they provide submission instructions? Is their Website easy to navigate? Do you get to have a proof check?
Covering these four bases will help you bring the best team to the field and hit a home run with your marketing materials.