Log In | Become a Member | Contact Us


Market Intelligence for Printing and Publishing

Connect on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Featured:     European Coverage     Production Inkjet Analysis

Commentary & Analysis

Think Small

by Margie Dana Though it'

By WhatTheyThink Guest Contributor
Published: October 31, 2007

by Margie Dana

Though it's hard not to brag to customers and prospects about the major advances you're making as a progressive print provider, remember this: when it comes to making a good impression on clients today, it's what's small that counts.

Good printing is easy to come by. If you laid out a dozen printed samples on a table and asked a group of buyers to match the samples with particular printers, it would be impossible.

Print customers will remember you --and refer you to their colleagues-- for reasons other than good quality printing. Often, it is something that seems inconsequential. Many printing firms don't even realize that by making tiny improvements or changes to their treatment of customers and prospects, they'd win accounts and be on the road to long-term business relationships.

Print customers will remember you --and refer you to their colleagues-- for reasons other than good quality printing. Often, it is something that seems inconsequential.

Here are a few small suggestions for making a big difference in the minds of your customers and prospects.

Keep It Clean

Plant tours are fantastic opportunities for printers to shine. This is your chance to show off your equipment, dazzle visitors with your prepress department, impress them with tall piles of beautifully printed sheets, and introduce them to management.

The cleaner and more organized your printing facility is, the more comfortable a buyer will feel awarding you their business.

Nothing turns off a visiting customer more than a dirty, messy printing facility. Buyers (especially seasoned ones) look for cleanliness above all else on a plant tour. If your plant's a pig sty, it is a giant red flag --and potentially a symptom of greater problems. If you don't care about the state of your plant, how much can you care about the quality of your products?

Remove all clutter, get rid of offensive posters and calendars (I saw some recently, believe it or not), make sure employee areas are clean and well lit, and for Pete's sake, make sure that the rest rooms are spotless.

The cleaner and more organized your printing facility is, the more comfortable a buyer will feel awarding you their business.

Send Only Your Very Best

Many printers I know think that their samples are ignored and quickly tossed in the trash. Having spoken with hundreds of print buyers, I would say to you it's not true. The savviest buyers pay very close attention to the sample packets you mail to them.

What samples are you sending to a particular prospect? Is it something he or she might be producing? Do your samples come from clients in the same industry --or is there no connection whatsoever? Try and send samples that this particular prospect can relate to. You want them to pick up a sample and think, "Ah, great! This is just the kind of work we do/want to do!"

You want them to pick up a sample and think, "Ah, great! This is just the kind of work we do/want to do!"

No matter what samples you send, be certain that they represent your very best work. This seems obvious, yet time and again I hear from buyers in major corporations that printers' samples are flawed examples of their work. Copy may be out of register, or the paper's cracking on the fold, or a piece may fingerprint badly. Ouch!

Prospects will judge you on the quality of your samples. It's that quick. Send them junk and they'll remember you as a sub-par printer. The "Sample Test" is often the first way that a prospect pre-qualifies a printing company. Pay attention. Send only your very best.

Take Down Your Roadblocks

How easy is it for your customers to reach you by phone? Particularly in an emergency, when a customer needs to reach her sales or service rep ASAP, don't make her wade through layers of middle-people.

By the way, customers expect their sales/service rep to have all the answers. Even if this isn't true, as opposed to falling back on "Um, you'll have to talk to someone in estimating/prepress/the pressroom/shipping about that. I don't handle it."

Customers expect their sales/service rep to have all the answers, so these front-line pros should be resourceful enough to get the information the customer needs. And fast.

Sophisticated buyers expect their sales person to know about his or her plant's capabilities from prepress through shipping and fulfillment. By nature, buyers move fast, act fast, and expect the same from their printers.

Finish Beautifully

The most expertly printed product won't make up for a lousy finish. You can't slack off on the quality of your finishing work and expect customers not to notice. When they open those cartons or check out their batch of samples, noticeable cracking on the folds of a heavy cover stock that's printed with heavy ink coverage will be all they see.

One senior-level buyer told me that "if folded pieces are poorly shrink wrapped (without oversized chipboard) and the corners are bent, that affects my impression" of a printer.

These are just four examples of how big the small issues really are with print buyers today. Is upper management focusing on the big picture -- like sales, investing in new equipment, growth, new markets, and training and retaining great employees? Fine. But in a perfect printing world, every company would designate a "Director of Details" so that the small issues don't fall through big cracks.

 

 

Become a Member

Join the thousands of printing executives who are already part of the WhatTheyThink Community.

Copyright © 2016 WhatTheyThink. All Rights Reserved