Even in this online-focused world, printed materials are still important to small business marketing and success. Research from the Association of National Advertisers revealed that response rates from direct mail prospects increased by nearly 200 percent in one year, according to the most recent data available.
To take advantage of the power of print, your business needs a printing partner that supports your objectives. Use the questions below to evaluate potential partners and find the right one for your small business.
1. What examples can you share of similar projects and clients?
A successful track record will help give you peace of mind that your print projects are in the right hands. It’s also important to find out if the company has worked with other small businesses, perhaps in a similar industry to yours, so you know your partner can create designs that will resonate with your market.
Look through customer case studies and testimonials on the company’s website and ask for specific examples. Before you launch any projects with a printing partner, it’s a good idea to review a list of your needs and talk with a representative to hear how their company can meet your objectives.
2. How will you manage our company’s print projects?
Whether it’s to check on the status of a project or answer a design question, inquire about a printer’s approach and system for fielding your questions. Do they rely on phone, email, text or another mode of communication? Also, ask who will serve as your point person for questions or concerns.
If you plan to do a lot of printing, schedule a regular project meeting for updates and problem resolution. Being able to touch base in some way on a frequent basis with your printing partner will keep your projects moving forward.
3. What technology platforms do you use to streamline the collaboration process?
A collaboration platform that allows you to share your materials and easily review proofs creates a streamlined workflow that supports creativity and saves time. Ask your printing partner if they use a platform and, if so, whether you can easily share materials with your team and access it from wherever you happen to be.
If the company offers a solution, make sure you’re properly trained on it. Have other employees who are involved in your printing process attend training sessions to ensure everyone understands it. Also, check with your printing partner about the platform’s security capabilities to be sure your business materials are safely guarded.
4. What additional services do you offer?
The ability to get printing projects completed efficiently and successfully is key, but a partner that provides additional services can help your small business shine.
For example, a printing partner with design services can lend expertise to make your printed materials stand out. Many designers are willing to build on work you’ve already created, and small changes can make a huge difference in how engaging your materials are. Many printing companies will also do fulfillment, handling the preparation, labeling, sorting and mailing of your materials for direct mail marketing or other outbound projects.
5. How can we build a long-term partnership?
It’s important to view the printing company you work with as part of your small business, rather than as just a vendor that provides a service. Anyone who has a role in creating materials that represent your company needs to understand your business and its priorities and challenges.
Look for a printing partner who brings a collaborative spirit to the relationship. Be clear about your role, too. For a printing partner to create on point materials, you need to make your goals clear, be responsive to any questions they have and continue to provide updates.
As your partnership with the printing company grows, your needs will likely change. Communicate these new objectives to your partner, and reassess your contract if needed. This helps ensure you continue to work together to create the most effective and successful printed materials for your small business. Also, ask for updates on new services and techniques. Your small business may be able to benefit from the printer’s innovations, too.