Can You Really Take the Drama out of Commercial Printing?
We’ve all experienced times when marketing projects went awry. Maybe your team was late in delivering layouts. Or your server crashed. Or your commercial printer missed deadlines. No matter what happened, the resulting stress and drama made a seemingly simple task grow into an epic quest.
While most of us won’t encounter marketing problems like these every day (fingers crossed!), when you do encounter challenges in printing and production, if you already have processes in place you may be able to minimize the impact or even solve the problem before it arises. If your designer, project manager or print production manager is prepared, you’ll avoid dramas like these.
Misunderstandings occur and teams take actions based on incomplete or inaccurate information, resulting in missteps, lost time and frustration.
When you have short deadlines and a seemingly straightforward project, finding time to talk to your commercial print team about expectations may seem like a luxury. However, even simple printing projects benefit from a short, well-organized kickoff meeting or phone call with all parties involved that allows everyone to agree on deliverables and share preferences on processes. In this kickoff, the marketing lead should appoint a team leader, and make sure everyone knows who should be contacted with questions and concerns. Assign one point of contact on the marketing side, and with your commercial printer. Limiting the project kickoff to a short email with a signed estimate is a recipe for miscommunication.
Graphic designers create a spectacular piece, only to discover late in the process that execution will be timely, expensive or impossible.
In many organizations, a designer creates the graphic direction and the production manager figures out how to make it work. In other companies, the production manager and designers work together closely, making the commercial printing considerations an integral part of the process. Guess which one gets a better finished product? Design decisions affect every part of the printing process, from printing choices like offset or digital, substrate choices and shipping methods. If your designers aren’t familiar with commercial printing considerations, it may be beneficial to take the time to explain and in involve them in discussions before design begins. Include them on printing runs. Bring them to press checks. Include them in conversations with your commercial printer. Although it takes more work initially, you’ll soon see that a more informed designer makes everyone’s job much easier.
You miss a deadline, and now your commercial printer says they will deliver late, resulting in missed sales opportunities.
Sometimes missed deadlines are your fault. And sometimes printers use even the smallest delays as an excuse to move deadlines. Whether you call it scheduling integrity or getting bumped, we all know that some printers put you back in the line when bigger players want faster deliveries. Talk to your printer about scheduling integrity in the planning stages of the project, not at the end of the process. Ask what happens if you get bumped or if you are late in getting approvals to print, and make sure everyone understands the implications of delays.
You’re floored when you receive a bill well over estimate.
While scope creep is impossible to avoid all of the time, you should never find out about overages when the bill arrives. Any extra costs, changes in process or additional charges must be discussed prior to taking action. Make sure your commercial printer knows your policy and includes it in your contracts or estimates. If every project is going over budget, it’s time to think about retooling your kickoff meeting to be more comprehensive.
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