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?
Find out if the company you're evaluating has worked with other small businesses — in your industry, if possible — so you know they 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 they 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? And 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 regularly check in will keep your projects moving forward.
3. What tech platforms do you use to streamline collaboration?
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 that allows you to easily share materials with your team.
If the company offers a platform, make sure you and your employees are properly trained on it. Also, check to make sure the platform's security capabilities will keep your business materials safe.
4. What additional services do you offer?
The ability to get printing projects completed efficiently and successfully is key, but additional services can help your small business shine.
For example, do they have design services? 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 companies will also handle 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?
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.
Your printing needs will likely change over time, so communicate with the company and reassess your contract if needed. Also, ask for updates on new services and techniques. Your small business may be able to benefit from the printer’s innovations, too.