Brands spend a lot of time and money on the strategy and design of their marketing collateral. Sometimes, though, less attention is devoted to the last part of the creation process—print production. This final milestone of putting ink on paper has many potential pitfalls and can derail an otherwise succesful project. When interacting with a design firm that is managing your print production—or when handling the process with your internal team—remember these tips to avoid busting the budget and delaying final delivery:
NOT ALL PRESSES ARE CREATED EQUAL.
Every press is unique for at least two reasons: their equipment and their people. Even if the equipment of two printers were identical (and it never is), the personalities and specialties of their team can significantly enhance or hinder the process. Unless your team is printing the same project repeatedly, approach multiple presses to determine which best fits your particular needs. Send a pencil sketch of the design, and note which press offers the most interesting, helpful ideas in return. How well a press responds will provide some insight into who will be the best fit.
PUT YOUR ENERGY WHERE IT COUNTS—AND PLAN WELL EARLY.
Even as your team works to plan a solid strategy, produce good design, and gain stakeholder buy-in, it's not too early to begin the conversation with your print vendors. They will provide valuable feedback throughout the process, helping to reduce risk in your delivery schedule and reserving your project's place on their production line. Even send them a draft of your schedule, mailing lists and other distribution instructions. They will often identify issues that you may not foresee. The best presses may even offer new solutions. And, without being pushy, they may even pursue you to help things stay ahead of schedule—certainly not an under-appreciated service for those with busy schedules.
AVOID THE TEMPTATION OF LAST MINUTE CHANGES.
Although a good press will do everything possible to avoid schedule problems and alteration charges, changes requested late in the game can have a significant impact on your final cost. Not only will these changes affect your budget and schedule, they also tend to increase mistakes by distracting you and your press from the review process. The best print projects are well-planned and collaborative in the beginning and delightfully uneventful at the end.