Despite a notable increase in digital marketing, communications, and information distribution, the print industry is continuing to thrive. Print has many advantage over digital; it has impact, longevity, and authority, and has become one of the most important and prominent vehicles for advertising, education, and entertainment today. The value of printing in the US exceeded $200bn in 2016, with China, Japan, Germany, and the UK not far behind. Print businesses are in high demand… but how can you succeed?
One of the best ways to ensure you’re running a successful and high performing print business is to be prepared. Consider what potential clients may ask you, and ensure you’re ready to answer their questions.
Here are 10 of the most common questions that your clients will ask you about printing:
1. What Makes You Right For This Project?
The growing demand for print services means that many new businesses have been launched within the past few years to ensure adequate supply. While this is good news for clients who have a wide range of options, it poses new challenges for print businesses who are finding themselves operating within an ever-increasing competitive field. Therefore, when a potential client asks why you’re the best for the job at hand, it’s important to have a professional, factual, and informative answer prepared in response.
The problem with this, of course, is that your prepared response cannot be set in stone, as each project will have different requirements. The best way to prepare your response is to separate your answer into two sides. On one side, you’ll focus on facts: what your business does, what techniques you use, and how you’re different from your competitors. On the other side, take a flexible approach that can be tailored based on customer requirements; discuss specifics that make you perfect for this particular job.
2. Do You Offer Any Special Services?
There are many standard printing services that most printers will be able to offer their clients. These typically include digital printing, offset lithography, flexography, gravure, and screen printing. In many cases, one of these services will generally meet the expectations of the client. However, as the print industry continues to grow, there is increasing demand for alternative services. Electrostatic choices, for example, are becoming more popular, as well as thermography and even the old letterpress method.
Be sure to have a thorough understanding of the services that your business offers, and know how each available method applies to each type of print job. If you offer special printing services, don’t hesitate to advertise and market these as your unique selling point (USP), but when preparing your answer it’s important to stick to the facts. If you aren’t currently in a position to offer special services, be open and honest about it. Skechers paid $40mil for overpromising and under delivering… don’t let that be you!
3. Do You Have Any Samples of Your Work?
Samples are some of the most effective and most influential of materials that can be used to encourage potential customers and demonstrate that you can not only meet their expectations, but exceed them. It’s worth keeping samples from your previous jobs which show off a range of your methods, techniques, and overall results. Be sure to include a broad selection to show off different paper stock and finishes, and make a note in your calendar to rotate samples so your samples are always recent and relevant.
While online shopping is starting to take over, research still confirms that you simply can’t beat a physical store. In fact, while many shoppers will research a product online, they are more likely to buy in store. That’s because being able to see, hold, and get a real feel for a product can be a major influential factor when it comes to decision making. A tactile experience can be hugely beneficial, particularly within an industry producing handheld materials such as leaflets, catalogues, posters, and other print-based items.
4. What Are The Best Options For Me?
Some potential clients will know exactly what they’re looking for in a print job; others will be turning to you for expert guidance every step of the way. If your client asks you about the best and most effective options for them, it’s important to consider both sides of the coin when preparing your answer. While you may see some of the more advanced print services as being the ‘best’ from a technical perspective, your client will probably be looking for an option that combines quality with overall cost effectiveness.
Before meeting with a client, take some time to note down a number of different options. All options should ultimately result in a satisfactory print job, but will ideally provide the client with a range of choices to suit any budget, putting your client in control. Try not to overwhelm the client with written information: keep your notes simple and brief, and be willing to expand upon any of the options in person, offering greater detail into which options would be best suited for the specific job at hand.
5. What Paper Should I Select?
It’s a good idea to have samples of your different papers available so that clients can see for themselves exactly how each paper stock looks and feels. However, you should also be prepared to explain the differences between paper in more detail so that the client will receive the look they want. In terms of coated paper vs. uncoated paper, for example, explain that uncoated paper — which can be written on — is best for stationery and text-based materials, while images appear more vibrant on coated.
In terms of paper weight, one of the most important aspects to consider is, of course, distribution… although this is something that many clients will tend to overlook. While a heavier paper will generally appear higher quality and more authoritative, it can also be more costly to distribute via post. Consider that thinner papers have a habit of fraying when cut, although it’s typically better for perforation. Remember that even considerations that may seem obvious to you might be overlooked by your client.
6. How Much Does Printing Cost?
Did you know that 90% of businesses don’t know what they spend on printing? At a time when both businesses and consumers are becoming more savvy, and are beginning to show greater interest in not only where their money is going but also in how it’s being used, having a transparent pricing policy has never been more important. When your client asks this question, they aren’t looking for vague responses about each job being different; they want the cold, hard facts that enable them to make a decision.
When pricing a job, it is often recommended that printing businesses consider a range of alternative services — slightly thinner paper, as a basic example — which will appeal to various budgets. That’s because, should your client reject your quote, you need to be prepared to go in with a lower offer, even if this offer includes a slight variation in agreed services. If you aren’t prepared to suggest more cost effective alternatives, your client may reach out to a competitor business, losing you a print job.
7. Are You Environmentally Friendly?
Quite simply, if you are not able to offer any sort of environmentally friendly options then you need to be very clear and upfront about this. That’s because some clients — particularly if they are Government funded — will be required to work with environmentally friendly partners. Unfortunately, even if you appear to be the best printer for the job, these clients will be unable to move ahead if they are restricted by Government initiatives. You can save yourself and the client a lot of time by being honest about this.
However, at a time when ‘going green’ is important to businesses, it may be worth looking into offering your clients some environmentally friendly choices. Consider bringing in a range of recycled papers, or using chemical-free printing plates, energy efficient presses, or even solar power! And don’t forget — it’s not just about your processes; it’s about your environment, too. Do you recycle your off-cuts? Do you use vegetable-based glues and inks? Is your general office waste sorted into individual recycling bins?
8. How Can I Deliver My Artwork?
If a client asks you how they can deliver their artwork for printing, don’t stumble over the answer. This can appear unprofessional and give the impression that you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s essential that you’re prepared with the right information, at the right time. There are a few aspects to think about here. Not only will you need to know the different ways that your client can send their artwork over to you — do you require a PDF? Do you offer a digital delivery option — but a few tips can also help.
To improve the client experience and minimize downtime, be sure to inform your client of ways in which they can tweak their artwork so that it’s in the right form for printing when it gets to you. If their artwork runs right to the edge, for example, do you require a standard 3mm for bleed? If digital, is the artwork set up as CMYK, rather than RGB? Are image resolutions around 300dpi for best effect? While you are able to prepare artwork for printing, your client may prefer to do this themselves to save time.
9. How Quickly Can You Get The Job Done?
In most cases, your client will be looking for a speedy service, but once again it is essential that you do not overpromise and underdeliver. Be transparent about your current workload, about how long standard print jobs take for your individual business, and take the time to explain how different needs can increase — or decrease — estimated print time. Be sure to provide your client with an accurate timescale, as well as being prepared to offer alternative services which may be faster options.
There are many aspects that can affect how long it takes to complete a print job. However, your client may not fully understand this so be prepared to explain the average time for different services. Pre-press typesetting and edits, as discussed above, can add time onto the job, for example, the need to manufacture printing plates adds extra time, while projects that need to be trimmed, bound, or folded can increase the amount of time that a job will spend in the finishing department. Be open and honest.
10. How Can We Keep in Touch?
B2B communication is essential. Clients value communication, and you may be asked about how your business will keep in touch and provide job updates during the project. While half of all clients expect businesses to be available 24/7, be sure to be honest with your client and explain how and when they will be able to get in touch, as well as providing a rough schedule of when they can expect to hear from you as each stage of the job progresses; this can include proofs, and other important milestones.
It is worth preparing a small document that you can provide to your client which contains your contact details and available hours. If you are willing to be contacted outside of standard business hours, be sure to include options for this, such as social media handles, instant message details, or other forms of communication. It is certainly worth offering at least 2 different ways for a client to get in touch, such as phone, IM, social media, or email, to give your clients a choice over how they choose to communicate.