When it comes to printing vendors, many companies take on the debate of whether to use an online printing service like Vistaprint or a local printer, like The Ambit Works. In fact, we often find that in a single company, different departments may make different print vendor choices. Smaller businesses often default to online printing, assuming immediately the product will be cheaper or they’ll receive it more quickly. Larger companies often select online printers because they’re not aware of the local printers in their community. But in fact, there are a number of advantages of using a local printing company–and cost is one of them.
When making a decision about which printing vendor is right for you, here are a few factors to consider:
Pricing is often first and foremost on the list of any print project’s requirements. But before you price out printing projects, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. An online printing project will require you to submit a perfect file–no one is checking for errors–whereas a local printer will take a look at your project to ensure it meets the necessary technical requirements, and can even take a consultative approach in advising you on the right materials, sizing, image resolutions and more to ensure the final product is perfect.
Consolidating any one-off, hard-to-manage print products for which you prefer the accountability of a local print provider with the easier orders that you’d traditionally do over the web can maximize your purchasing power with your local provider, naturally increasing your level of service and commitment with them.
When considering the cost of a project, go beyond the list price and make sure to take into account the time of your staff to create the perfect proof for online printing and, for more complex projects especially, the chance of doubling the price if there is an error that isn’t caught before the project goes to print.
Printing is a complex industry, with much of its own terminology and lots of technical specifications and requirements to get a product looking just right. Many companies don’t have a print and design expert in-house, and that’s where a local print shop can become so valuable. When you provide your project to a local printer, they’ll take the time to review it for a variety of technical specifications and make recommendations that can often improve the project or even save you time or money.
Examples here include advice around the size of a mail piece, providing input on the cost of creating marketing materials with a particular number of colors incorporated or giving you guidance on what type of material is best for a particular use case. In the end, this expertise can save you lots of headaches and a big learning curve, and it can also ensure that your project is completed on time and within budget because there’s an invested person overseeing it on the printing end.
Local printing companies invest time and money into building relationships with their clients, and with that investment comes knowledge of your brand. When one Ambit client came to us with their rebrand, we learned what the marketing director wanted out of the colors with one simple statement: “I want this blue to be aqua like a perfect swimming pool, not turn to a baby-blue.” We were able to apply that brand standard to the large pieces associated with their brand launch and the smaller pieces that trickled out of every corner of the company over the next 18 months. That one statement was enough to allow us to protect their brand on their behalf across their entire enterprise. Intimate knowledge of a client’s brand means not only do we have their brand standards on file, saving tremendous time during the file submission process, but we can also use institutional knowledge to pick out any anomalies when we’re reviewing a printed piece for them.
This overall relationship also lends itself to your local printer becoming essentially a consultant on your printed piece. We’re happy to offer feedback and ideas on making the piece better, more economical or more impactful, or to provide insight on the latest print and design trends.
If different departments at your company are using different print vendors, your branding is likely suffering. Colors may be off, materials may be slightly different, some images may be of higher quality than others. By consolidating your print work under one roof, you maintain consistency across the entire brand.
A local vendor can provide the best of both worlds. A quality local provider will be there for the high-touch products, doing the legwork to proof things in person and oversee a fantastic result. In today’s day and age, that same provider should be albe to present you with an e-procurement system to leverage the power of the internet and automated manufacturing for the easy of online ordering with cost efficiencies as well. By selecting carefully, you can get the best of high-tech and high-touch from the same local, accountable provider – and your data sheets won’t have to take an overnight airplane ride to get to you.
Whether this means simply selecting one local printing vendor as your vendor of choice, or actually creating an e-procurement system that larger companies use to order branded items and printed pieces on demand, consolidation will help with efficiency, costs and the look and feel of your printed products.