Using professional printing services for the first time can be an intimidating prospect for almost any business owner. But it’s also one of the most effective ways to advertise and increase your brand awareness: Print marketing is alive and well, even if it is evolving. So how can you get the most out of your marketing materials and the printing process? Here are some questions you may be asking (or should be asking) as you look toward working with a printing services company for the first time:
- Why Use Commercial Printing Services?
Some small businesses try to get by using their office printer or a few online services, instead of building a relationship with a full-service printing company. That’s generally a mistake. Commercial printing isn’t just about quantity (though it certainly can handle larger runs); it’s also about quality. When your printed marketing materials look amateurish, your entire business looks amateurish. That makes commercial printing services a worthy investment. You should also keep in mind that for many projects, it will actually be more affordable to have something printed with a large commercial press.
- Should I Use Digital or Offset Printing?
First, a brief explanation: Digital printing is a process in which your desired image or product is created directly from a digital file, whereas offset printing is the traditional process that uses plates and rubber “blankets” to transfer ink onto paper in layers. Digital printing is gaining popularity with small businesses in particular because it makes short runs (meaning fewer copies) more affordable. But offset printing still does most of the heavy lifting in the commercial printing world. Which one you choose will depend mostly on how many copies you need, your desired turnaround time and your color accuracy needs.
- Why Are Proofs Important?
Proofs, in the printing world, are essentially samples that you can approve before a full run begins. This is your opportunity to give a thumbs-up or thumbs down on color and printing quality, as well as proofread one last time.
- What File Formats Produce Good Products?
Many printing services now allow you to submit your project online or via email as a digital file. This is convenient, but you need to double-check that you’re sending that file in the proper format and at a high enough resolution. The exact specifications may vary depending on the project, which is why you should check with your print company, but in general the standard is a PDF with all images being at least 300 DPI.
- What Are the Best Marketing Materials?
This is really too business-specific for a short answer, but the bottom line is it’s a good idea to choose a print company that offers a wide range of processes and products. You might want a large format banner today, but next month or next year, T-shirts or custom bookmarks might be the best choice. When you choose a company that does it all, you can establish that one B2B relationship that will pay off over the years.
What other questions do you have? Join the discussion in the comments.