If you're considering printing something, consider this – buy your print through your design or marketing firm. Getting quotes from at least three printers that are appropriately equipped to print your job, finding the right sales rep, giving them the specs, waiting for all the quotes to come in, and then reviewing the quotes to determine which printer is going to be best for the job, takes a lot of time! If you don't handle printing on a frequent basis, understanding all the options available can be confusing. How do you know which printer is set up to run your job in the most efficient manner possible? What information should you provide or questions should you ask to get the most accurate quote? How can you be sure you're comparing printers equally? There's nothing worse than that feeling you get when the printer calls after reviewing your job files and says, "This isn't how we quoted your project. It's going to cost more to print it this way." Now you're faced with the added expense of either re-designing to fit the estimate or printing as is at a higher cost than the original estimate.

An experienced print buyer has established relationships and knows how to sort through printers to find ones that are most compatible with your job. Every printer has different capabilities and equipment. Some have one- or two-color presses; others have four- or six-color presses. Some printers specialize in offset printing; others in web printing or even digital printing. Some do all the printing and bindery work in-house; some have to outsource various jobs, which can increase cost. Some might have a very busy print schedule, while others are looking to fill in their schedule. All these factors can affect your estimate and the experience you have.

When you purchase printing through an experienced buyer like your design or marketing firm, they get comparative bids on every project, evaluate better ways to accomplish your print goals, and make the decision on which printer is best based primarily on price, service, added value, and relationship –all weighing about equally. Quality and reliability are also important issues along with how well the printer can provide finishing or fulfillment services such as: die-cutting, bindery, package assembly and mailing.

A major advantage to buying your printing through the person who designed the project is that you know the finished product will turn out exactly as planned, within budget and on time. Often times, designers won't work with printers they have no previous experience with or whose capabilities don't fit the project specifications. In turn, many printers wont work with buyers outside the industry circle. Why you ask? Well the main reason is simply because reputations and dollars are on the line. The printer and designer need to produce a quality product in order to get more business. They also need to make money. If the printer is given files that don't meet the job specs or haven't been prepared properly for printing, they have to do extra work to ensure a good product. If the printer lacks the capabilities to print the design, then the designer has to spend extra time modifying the design or files to make it all work.

Taking a project from computer to press can be a complicated process, many things can (and sometimes do) go wrong, and if you don't have a strong positive relationship with your printer when something goes wrong, the results and expense can be disastrous. The designer and printer should be allowed to work as a team. Let your designer work with a printer whom they have a long standing relationship with and you'll be more likely to get what you want with less effort and reduced risk. In the long run, it can cost less to pay a little more for a job to be printed right the first time, than to be forced to print the job twice!

Graphic designers and marketing directors are more familiar and experienced with the terminology, technology, resources and limitations of the printing industry. An educated print buyer can add value for their clients by finding print providers who can add value to every job. So remember the next time you pick up that phone to get a print quote started, call on a professional who has the training and expertise to get the job done right, on time and within your budget. Call your creative team!

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