Whether your small business is looking to print new aisle signs or direct mailers, it’s almost certain that you’ll need to work with a commercial printing company at some point in time. If you’ve never arranged a print run before, this can seem intimidating. There’s really no need for concern; as long as you find an experienced print company to work with, they can guide you through the process. But it can help to know a tiny bit about the commercial printing process and the questions you should ask in order to get the best service. Here’s what you should discuss with your print company rep before you make any agreements:
There are two main types of commercial printing, digital printing and offset printing, and it’s likely you’ll be offered a choice. Offset printing can sometimes offer higher quality than digital printing, but it depends heavily on what kinds of technology your printer has available. It’s best to choose a company that offers both methods so you can make a decision on a case-by-case basis.
Make sure you’re very clear on how long it will take for your project to be ready. This will depend both on the actual time it will take to print your designs and how busy the printing company is. It’s possible you’ll be able to pay a rush fee to receive your products sooner, but you shouldn’t count on it.
The cost of a commercial printing run will depend heavily on the above two factors; offset printing has a lower price per piece for bigger runs but has a longer turnaround time, while digital printing is less expensive for small runs and can be printed on short notice without hefty setup fees. Other factors, such as color vs. black-and-white printing, factor in too. In general though, you may find commercial printing surprisingly affordable.
It’s important that you completely understand the required specs for graphics used in your design. You don’t want to see your images come out grainy or distorted. Talk to your printer about appropriate file sizes and DPI so you’re happy with the final product.
Make sure you discuss how you will share the files you want with the printer. This is particularly important if you’re designing something yourself in the office (on MS Publisher, for example). Most commercial printers will be set up to handle PDF or PostScript files, so you should ask about how to convert your designs into one of these acceptable file types.
What else should be discussed before small businesses embark on their first commercial printing ventures? Add your thoughts in the comments.