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Archive for July, 2007

It is very common for clients to send mailing lists, in excel format, that have extraneous information (i.e. email addresses, account numbers, etc.) not needed for the labeling of the printed materials. This is not too big of an issue if it is a long-term client, because a good broker probobaly knows what is needed and what is not. Even with that said, it is still a good idea to keep the mailing list as clean as possible, to reduce the risk of poor results.

An incident happened to us where a client had all kinds of information on a mailing list, which we eliminated in the past without issue. In this case, there was information that was needed, and subsequently, mail ended up getting returned. Although that wasn’t a great experience, it forced us to always provide a proof of the label information before mailing any product, for all future mail orders (does your broker provide mail proofs???).

It isn’t absolutely necessary to prune your mailing list, because the mail house should be able to provide that service and provide a proof, but if you can limit the risk, why not do so?

ABOUT PROJECTCENTER

ProjectCenter is a single-source service company providing marketing and document solutions to small, medium and large-sized businesses in the U.S. area. ProjectCenter is based in Phoenix, Arizona and its services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, scanning and mailing. For more information, please call (602) 252-6655 or visit  www.makepapereasy.com.

It is very common in our industry to see clients that have elaborate graphic design work for their materials, as an attempt to differentiate themselves. Although, it looks ‘great on paper’, it can be horrible to clients’ bottom lines.

ProjectCenter currently has a job for business cards that is going end up costing the client nearly $1.00 per card (1000 units = $1000). That is NOT good, and the client was upset when they discovered that they had taken been down a rathole in their design work. Some of aspets of the job were the client’s fault, such as wanting their cards laminated. Where the big money came into play was the color selection that the client made with the graphic artist. The colors were so out of the normal selection, that the client was forced to do Pantone Match when they went to print.

Pantone Match is function by which the client chooses a color on a color swatch, and each color is numbered. That number gets presented to the printer, and they manually match the color before the printer sends the job to press. Logically, if they manually match colors, or even if they have to simply switch to this special color, then the printer charges more for that service. Normally, we could have sent a job like this one to digital print, costing far less in the process, but that job ended up becoming what is known as a “Spot Color” project, which is charged per color. Also, Spot Color has other charges, such as “Close Registration”. Close Registration is where the 2, 3, or 4 colors on an art piece touch each other. Printers have to process these jobs one color at a time, meaning they print one color, and then run the product through again and again for each color they add. In order for the project to look good, they must line up the job perfectly so colors that are supposed to touch each other do not overlap in the process. If there is an overlap, the project gets thrown in the garbage and they start over from square one.

Had the designer known about the print aspect of their business, they could have consulted their client of the cost they were going to bear by having special colors, etc. By not consulting the client, they made themselves look insuffient, and that is a shame because the artwork itself was rather nice looking.

Consider this: Either work with a designer who is also a print broker, or make sure to run graphic art ideas by a print broker before closing on an art project. Look at this way: I make no business decisions without talking with my lawyer AND my CPA, because they will probably have two different answers. If I only talked to one of the two, I would end up doing something wrong, costing me time and money.

So utilize your resources!

ABOUT PROJECTCENTER

ProjectCenter is a single-source service company providing marketing and document solutions to small, medium and large-sized businesses in the U.S. area. ProjectCenter is based in Phoenix, Arizona and its services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, scanning and mailing. For more information, please call (602) 252-6655 or visit  www.makepapereasy.com.

One of the more amusing comments I hear is “I’d like to stay local”, which of course is another way of saying “I’d like you to reduce your price”. It is not a bad tactic really, because at least the client is giving the printer the opportunity to get the business (a.k.a. ‘sharpen the pencil’).  Some clients want local business for their comfort of better service. Some clients are truly trying to grow the local economy.

In any three of these cases, the fact remains that they may not be getting their product local even if the printing establishment they are buying from is local, meaning it is not uncommon for companies that are brokers to source out of state. As an example, one of the larger chains known today in Phoenix (our competitor) buys their print goods from Glendale and San Diego, California.

No buyer truly has control of this practice, mainly because it is the buyers’ fault. What?!? Yes, it is simple economics. Clients constantly push for better pricing, and printers search for more efficient and cost-effective sources, and sometimes those sources tend to be out of state. Is this sounding familiar (can you say outsourcing overseas)?

That said, don’t be surprised if someone figures out how to take this business out-of-country. Sad to say, but we’ll be the ones to blame for it, because we tend to eat our young (figuratively speaking).

On the flip side, it forces us as business to become more efficient, which is harldy ever a bad practice. So, save yourself the embarassment of sounding ‘loco’ when you talk about wanting to be ‘local’.

ABOUT PROJECTCENTER

ProjectCenter is a single-source service company providing marketing and document solutions to small, medium and large-sized businesses in the U.S. area. ProjectCenter is based in Phoenix, Arizona and its services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, scanning and mailing. For more information, please call (602) 252-6655 or visit  www.makepapereasy.com.

Print brokers are simply sales people or sales companies. The reason they call themselves brokers is because they will ‘broker out’ a job or jobs to the best (price and quality) printing source. But a good broker does far more than just source a job. The wholesalers view them as their sales arm (as printers tend not to like to perform their own sales), and sometimes they go out and get their own business.

So what are the signs of a good broker?

(1) They are upfront about being a broker: Good brokers understand the importance of their services, so they are not afraid to tell you they are a broker and, possibly, who their wholesalers are.

(2) They are more than willing to tell you about the print process: Some clients do not care, but a broker understands that educating clients helps clients be more efficient, and can make the broker’s job easier in the longrun.

(3) “Sorry, but this would not be worth our time”: A broker that rests on his/her service abilities won’t necessarily drop prices all the time. Sometimes it just does not make sense for a broker to take on a project if the cost is constricting, or if the project is simply too complicated for the broker to perform well.

(4) “I don’t know. Let me get back to you”: There is nothing more annoying than a broker that pops off an answer to a question, just because he/she feels like they should. Believe or not, people respect the candor of not knowing, because it actually shows you care enough to research the situation.

Conversely, we have the bad print broker, or at least the broker that needs to educate himself/herself:

(1) “Yeah, we can do that” for EVERYTHING: If a client hears this answer A LOT, especially in one coversation, then they are probably headed down a rathole with this broker, because the broker is probably a risk taker (‘shoot now, ask questions later’). The result is that, at some point, he/she is going to call the client back saying they could not do it, leaving the client with time constraints.

(2) Prices are not just competitive, they are far below the competition: This could be an indication of several issues: (a) The broker is not confident in his/her sales or operational skills, which would most likely result in the broker not performing well later on. (b) The broker simply doesn’t know how to run his/her practice on an accounting level, which could result in the broker going out of business or coming back to the client asking for more money. (c) The broker has a bad print source in terms of quality and business practices.

(3) All small talk, no information: This is fine if a broker has had a client for a long time, and have become friends over the years, but if a client specifically asks for information and the broker sidesteps the question, the client WILL have problems. Sometimes a broker will intentially do this, thinking they are keeping business secrets, which is completely ridiculous given that the broker world is hardly a secret anymore (remember, even Kinko’s and Alphagraphics are brokers). More than that, keeping secrets (like not telling a client you are a broker) typically means that a broker is not comfortable with the services they provide. Also, consider this: if people are out there trying to hide the broker portion of the business, then they are definately, although not intentially, giving the broker business a ‘shady’ reputation.

All of these items above can apply to sales people or print brokers, and in case you are wondering, I learned these points from being in sales for 15 years.

ABOUT PROJECTCENTER:

ProjectCenter is a single-source service company providing marketing and document solutions to small, medium and large-sized businesses in the U.S. area. ProjectCenter is based in Phoenix, Arizona and its services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, scanning and mailing. For more information, please call (602) 252-6655 or visit  www.makepapereasy.com.