- Sales organizations that are eager to accept any and all deals may act in haste, consequently overlooking the nature of the finished project and its intended lasting impression.
- In today's business environment, many print buyers have other responsibilities and may not understand the consequences of making the wrong finishing decision.
- Print service providers can support print buyers by taking inventory of their printing products and fostering a better sales experience.
By Karen Kimerer
There is no shortage of finishing options in our industry—the shortlist includes binding, embossing, die-cutting, foil stamping, lamination, scoring, drilling, and UV coating. The way in which a printed piece is finished directly influences the worth of the project and can even promote (or demote) a brand's image. For example, a perfect-bound book will generally be perceived as higher quality than a saddle-stitched one. Similarly, the right finishing options can bring a much higher value to a presentation or proposal.
To select the finishing method that best communicates the value of the content, you must first understand how the final product will be used and its audience. Print salespeople have the opportunity to expand the finishing conversation beyond product, technique, and price. Document finishing is a bit like the real estate market—"curb appeal,” first impressions, and attention to detail can communicate insurmountable value. Although it’s not always easy to quantify the impact of an intelligently finished document, it is easy to understand the risks associated with improper finishing.
Not All Business is Good Business!
Print buyers often come to the table with pre-determined specifications and a clear vision of their printing needs. By the time they reach out to your company, they’re generally testing for fit or trying to determine if you can get the job done. Sales organizations that are eager to accept any and all deals may act in haste, consequently overlooking the nature of the finished project and its intended lasting impression.
As an example, consider something as simple as a business card. Suppose your prospective client wants to redesign his/her business cards and has requested a glossy coating on both sides of the card. Finishing options can be confusing to clients, but an expert would know enough to avoid this functionality issue. Imagine the value you could provide to that print buyer if you took the time to truly understand why they might want a glossy coating on both sides of their business cards. Odds are good that the buyer believes that this will make the cards mor durable and improve the perception of his/her brand. However, anyone who has ever carried a fully coated business card will know that it’s almost impossible to make notes on coated cards. Pandemic aside, note-taking on business cards is a common practice at live events and trade shows. In today's business environment, many print buyers have other responsibilities and may not understand the consequences of making the wrong finishing decision. These print buyers can benefit from your experience and knowledge about what will work well and what to avoid when applying finishing touches.
Rather than jumping on every order to make a quick sale, guide the print buyer in the selection of a finishing solution that will elevate his/her brand. In the case of business cards, one option might be to direct the print buyer toward specialty ink effects like metallics, fluorescents, or spot/flood coating to create a high-value, unique appearance on the front. Meanwhile, a silky-soft uncoated back side would enable any note-taking. Sharing your expertise on how and when to use different techniques can be invaluable to your print buyer. In this case, the ultimate value would be an impactful yet functional business card. That’s a much better outcome than a client who is highly dissatisfied because the products that they ordered from you turned out to be largely unsuitable for their intended purpose!
Using Finishing to Foster Loyalty
A printed piece that incorporates eye-catching and engaging characteristics can capture the attention of the most discerning customer. Due to the highly competitive nature of most industries, print buyers must continue seeking ways to communicate quality and prestige with their printed products. This will be of particular importance in the post-COVID world, where the transition to digital has accelerated and print volumes are declining. Although print will have its place in the ecosystem for quite some time, buyers are striving to cut costs by “printing smarter.” The right finishing techniques can make publications, marketing collateral, postcards, and business cards beg to be touched. The finishing elements of these communications will trigger a sensory response that makes them more memorable and inherently valuable.
Ultimately, all print buyers want to attract loyal customers that will tell others about their positive experiences and keep coming back for more. A CEB survey of 5,000 individuals at client organizations revealed that the overall sales experience was the most important determinant of customer loyalty. Print service providers can support print buyers by taking inventory of their printing products and fostering a better sales experience. Help your print buyers plot their offerings on a continuum, then ask probing questions that can highlight the risk or value of applying various finishing options. These questions might include:
- What is the shelf life of this document or project? Does it warrant wire binding over coil binding?
- Who are the intended recipients/readers of the document or project? What aspects might be most appealing to them? What types of finishing options would make your document stand out so that recipients would take interest?
- What types of offerings is this document or project competing against? Would specialty inks or spot coat images generate more interest or improve its visibility?
- How will the document or project ultimately be used? Is there a need to write on the product or document? If so, it’s important to select the best finishing options.
- In the case of pamphlets or booklets, will it be necessary to tear out pages without damaging the entire product? Which binding will work best, and should certain (or all) pages be perforated?
- Is the product or document aligned with the value of the solution it represents?
- How durable does the product need to be? Will it need to withstand the elements?
The Bottom Line
When it comes to printed communications, your print buyers want alternatives, creative ideas, and effective solutions. Particularly in today’s “digital first” environment, print buyers are thinking beyond mere ink on paper—they want their printed communications to capture the attention of their audience while elevating the impression of their brand. Print can still deliver a “wow” factor, especially when the print provider understands the ultimate purpose of the final product. The right finishing touches can make all the difference in terms of functionality, customer satisfaction, brand perception, and loyalty. As a print service provider, it’s your responsibility to educate time-pressed print buyers about high-performing finishing options and how they can improve the value and functionality of their offerings.
Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.