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Best Buying Practice – Print 3/10

3)      ALWAYS demand to be billed and to pay at the time you pickup the job. The temptation will be great to get the invoice in the mail and pay in 30 days but here’s what you get when you pay at time of pickup:

  • Cash Savings – you can get as much as a 2% price reduction if you pay at the time of pickup – just ask for it. If you print a lot in a year that 2% adds up to a good chunk of money. I get 1% cash-back from my credit card and I’m very happy when I get that check at the end of the year. I remember my first bosses pocketed tens of thousands in a year doing just that – demanding to pay right away for a little cash discount.
  • Priority Service – most customers don’t pay at the time of pickup which means the printer has to wait at least 30 days to get paid for his work. Whom do you think he will offer greater favours – the guy who pays in 30 days or the guy who gives him cash at pickup? A recent project landed on my lap on a Friday afternoon at 2pm. It was an odd size 12 page plus cover coupon booklet with every page perf’ed. I had to have 7000 on Saturday by 12 noon. One phone call, and the following morning I paid cash, picked up my order and delivered to my customer. Because the saying does not go… Invoice talks…

Best Buying Practice – Print 2/10

2) Insist on getting a quote based on the specs you provided but be open and look well upon the printer that also offers alternative suggestions.

Printing is a custom manufacturing process and it has been around for over 500 years. Printers have “been there” and “done that”. They carry a wealth of knowledge. Be open to the printer who asks questions, more likely than not, that is the printer who will save you money and/or make you money.

A printer has printed your type of project for your type of company for your type of campaign in the past. Your type of company has given him feedback on the outcome, made tweaks to the project, reprinted it again and reported feedback again – and you don’t want to hear about it? That’s like trying to reinvent the wheel. My advice, get quotes from order takers but give orders to the printer who asks questions and offers advice, even if the final outcome will be exactly to your specifications.

Best Buying Practice – Print 1/10

1)      Give specs, Get quote – make sure you provide the right specifications to the printer when obtaining a quote and/or placing an order. The most basic information is:

  • Specify what the product is, ie. Brochure, postcard, booklet
  • Specify the number of pages if it’s a brochure or booklet  and whether it is self-cover or plus cover (Self-cover means that all pages print on the same paper; Plus cover means that the cover prints on a different paper)
  • Specify if the job prints colour or black only, example
    i.      4/0 which means full colour on one side and nothing printing on the back
    ii.      4/4 which means full colour on both sides
    iii.      2/1 which means 2 colours (a PMS and a Black) on one side and Black on the back
  • If it’s a booklet with a cover than you should specify what colour scheme the cover uses and what colour scheme the inside pages use, example
    i.      Cover – 4/4; Inside Guts – 1/1 which means the cover prints in full colour and the inside pages print only in one colour (ie black)
  • Specify the Flat size and the Finished size of the piece
  • Specify the type of paper to use and the proper weight, examples:
    i.      Weight – 70lb, 80lb, etc.
    ii.      Brand – specify the brand of paper, if you don’t , the printer will use his house stock meaning the paper that he orders the most of, which in most cases means most economical.
    iii.      Finish – Coated : Gloss, Matte, Silk or Uncoated/Offset: Smooth, Regular
    iv.      Type: Text weight (regular “flimsy” paper;
  • Specify the type of finishing, ie. Trim, Fold,  Score, Stitch, Glue, etc.
  • Specify how you want this packaged: Bulk in cartons, Shrinkwrapped in bundles of #,Banded in bundles of #
  • Specify the quantity – number of finished pieces

Full color or 4 color what’s the diff?

Full color or 4 color what’s the diff?

cmyk process printingWhether asking for a print quote or sending a job with print specifications it is important to tell the printer whether the job prints in color or black only. Some clients specify Full Color others 4 Color. Both are correct. Printing color images requires the use of four process colors: Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black. However, print technology does advance and presses are capable of printing 6, 8, 10+ colors; ink technology also evolves and manufacturers have added two additional process colors (orange and green) to the standard 4 to increase the color gamut reproduced on paper. This is also called Full Color.
That is why I always advise clients to be as detailed as possible. If the job is to print standard 4 color process than say it as such to avoid any problems.

Print salesman – an unpaid employee

Print salesman – an unpaid employee

Choosing a print sales rep is not easy. There are hundreds or even thousands of print sales reps roaming the streets of Toronto trying to get your business. As a print buyer you must select a sales rep whom you feel most comfortable with but at the same time who will provide you the service and product that you need in order for your company to be successful. A sales mentor once told me to add to a quotation letter the following sentence: I will be your unpaid employee. That’s exactly what a print sales rep is, an unpaid employee. And just like you interview all your prospective employees you should also interview print sales reps. The great thing about finding a sales rep is that you don’t have to post any ads, they call you. All you have to do is give them ten minutes of your time for an interview. Here is a list of qualities, which Margie from has put together and which I have expanded upon, that a print sales rep should have:

•    He exudes professionalism which means he is an expert and has high standards of work ethics, morals and motivation – a person you can count on.

•    He has a lot of experience in the printing industry which means he can advise you on how to produce your project efficiently and economically.

•    He listens more than he talks and he asks you questions about your print jobs, like “Tell me how this piece will be used,” and “Is this piece part of a larger campaign?” and “What matters most to you about this project?” which means that he is not just an order taker but a business partner interested in your success, always gathering information to generate creative ideas for improving your projects and business.

•    He knows something about your company and your industry which means he understands your challenges and works to make your job easier.

•    He shows you samples that are not only beautifully produced, but they relate in some way to your needs which means that he understands your needs and your project’s requirements.

•    He is clearly going to be a resource for you and your firm, not an order taker.

•    He keeps in touch during the production of your job which means your stress is greatly reduced and you can focus on your other tasks.

•    He keeps his word or at least gives you a heads-up if, for example, deadlines are in jeopardy which means that you always have enough time to adjust.

•    He takes responsibility when appropriate, and doesn’t finger point which means when problems arise you can count on him to ensure that your delivery times are not jeopardized; and that he works in your best interest.

•    You can tell he’s someone you’d like to do business with for a long time because he’s not just a supplier but a business partner helping you achieve your goals and be successful.

•    He explains terms and technologies you don’t understand and keeps you current with new trends in printing which means that you become more knowledgeable, you are able to have better communication with other print suppliers and you are able to make more informed decisions.

•    He knows lots of other service providers who can complement work his firm does which means that you always get the best care and the best product and that he cares about your success.

•    He doesn’t bad mouth his competition which means that you can trust him and that he does not only care about his own self-interests.

•    He’s a high-energy person which means that when you need something done quickly you can depend on him getting it done.

•    He’s someone you’re happy to refer to your peers because you know that they will receive the same type of satisfactory service that you are receiving.

•    He keeps you calm during production, no matter how stressful it gets which means that you can sleep better at night knowing that you will get through the project alright.

•    He’s someone whose calls you always take which means he does not bore you with the same question “Can I quote on something?” but rather has something interesting to share with you.

•    He’s your ‘go-to’ resource which means that you can trust him that the information he provides you is always beneficial.

Business Card: Planning and executing

Exchanging business cards has been a common business protocol for decades. But as basic as they are, business cards require a little production planning in order to get them done right.

In this section, we’ll cover the critical planning stages for producing the more common types of business cards.

The planning issues unique to business cards are discussed here in the order that they might be considered by the communications, design and printing professionals working on them. This section is designed to complement the overview provided in the Planning Basics section. To get the most from this guide, we recommend that you review that section first.

In this discussion of production planning, we have identified 6 common types of business cards, distinguished by the printing or specialty graphics processes used to produce them – litho, engraved, thermography, litho/foil stamped, litho/emboss, tent card.


1.1 Develop project strategy

Business cards should be thought of as functional promotional tools. Here are some key issues to consider when developing effective business cards.

Size. The standard business card size is 31/2″ x 2″, which fits into most wallets and business card holders. This is not to say that business cards cannot be produced in larger or smaller sizes. However, always consider whether the non-standard size is practical for everyday use.

Information. Business cards are a way to connect with people. Pertinent contact information typically includes name, title, phone, fax, pager number, e-mail, web site and mailing address. If any of the information will change in the near future, consider printing enough cards with all the contact information in 1/color [to save money] to last you until the new information is available. At the same time, consider printing business card “shells.” These are cards with only the company logo printed on them. All you’ll need to do is imprint the new information on the shells to match the look of the original cards.

tip> Will there be an area code change in the near future? Business card “shells” enable you to imprint new phone numbers without the expense of reprinting the entire card.

Business cards: part of a whole

Think about the letterhead and envelope design while creating the business cards. The look for all three correspondence components are generally considered to be a family and are often consistent in look. When determining which paper to specify, see if matching envelopes are available, as well as writing weight for letterhead, and cover weight for business cards.


2.1 Develop project specifications

How many cards do you need? Don’t waste money by printing business cards you won’t use. Ask the people you’ll be producing cards for to give you a rough estimate on how many cards they use per year. Then you’ll know how much paper you’ll need to order based on the quantity they’ll actually use. Note that 500 is a typical run for business cards, and you may not save anything by ordering fewer than this.

Decide what kind of impression you want to make. Based on the image that you want to project, determine how basic or elaborate you want your cards to be. The least expensive and most basic option is to have the cards printed offset. For a little more money and panache, people are increasingly choosing thermography, which simulates the look of engraving. Or, you may want to spring for engraving, a process that delivers unparalleled elegance, but is more costly and usually requires a specialty printer. Other design techniques that can make a striking first impression include the use of special finishing processes such as foil stamping and embossing.

2.2 Establish your delivery date

2.3 Get a ballpark quote

The vendor selection process may take place now or during Stage 4. If contemplating various printing techniques for business cards, obtain a ballpark quote early in the process to help with cost comparisons.

2.4 Establish your budget


3.1 Develop the design

Aside from including complete contact information and maintaining graphic and tactile consistency with the company’s identity, here are some ideas to consider when creating an effective business card.

Focal point. People from the Western Hemisphere tend to read left to right, top to bottom. This makes the eye travel just above the center of the card, otherwise known as the focal point. This is often where the logo is placed, although it is by no means always the case. Wherever it may be, the focal point is also a good opportunity to use engraving, thermography, foil stamping or embossing. The rest of the contact information, and sometimes a corporate slogan, are placed in an easy-to-read position that visually connects with and supports the focal point of the card.

Watch the bottom. When designing a business card, take into consideration that cards sometimes get punched and placed in a card file, thus potentially cutting off any important information that is placed too close to the bottom of the card.

The back of the card. The front side of the card is where all the main contact information is placed. But what about the back? That blank space on the back of the card is a great opportunity to incorporate information that wouldn’t fit on the front, such as corporate slogan, mission statement, or key words that describe the product or service. However, printing on both sides of the cards takes a little more time. It requires two passes through the printing press, and inks have to dry between each run, which slows down the process. If the card is embossed, consider the deboss impression on the back of the card.

3.2 Obtain preliminary design approval


4.1 Locate appropriate vendors for your job
This selection process will be driven by the method of printing. If engraving or another specialty graphics process will be used, it’s best from cost and timing perspectives to identify printers who can perform this work in-house.

4.2 Obtain a formal estimate

4.3 Select the best vendor for the job

4.4 Develop your production schedule

Once the printer has been selected, it’s time to develop a production schedule for the job. Ask the printer for a copy of their schedule, and add the other key steps leading up to the printer’s involvement.


Hold a production meeting

Even though business cards are usually fairly basic, it’s still important for designer and printer to talk about the particulars of the job. The selection of paper is one of the most critical issues, especially if the same line of paper is being used for letterhead and envelopes. Paper is equally critical if a specialty process, such as thermography, embossing or foil stamping will be used. Not all paper is suited to these processes.

If you’re creating a tent-fold business card, make sure the printer is planning to score and fold the card. Most printers can handle this task in-house and will do it automatically, but double-check before you make assumptions.


6.1 Have the job approved by client

6.2 Get the job proofread

Printers report that clients often have to reprint cards due to mistakes that could have been caught with adequate proofreading. After you’re done double-checking the proofs, pass them along to the people you’re printing the cards for to ensure that their names are spelled properly and their contact information is accurate. Ask them to initial the proof once they have looked at it.

If there are changes to be made, write any corrections on the proof in a different, distinguishable color. Circle any errors, and write your changes out clearly, to avoid further mistakes. People often try to squeeze edits into a small space, thus making changes difficult for the printer to read.


7.1 Conduct a thorough press check

Due to the basic nature of business cards, press checks often aren’t performed for business cards. If you want to be on press with your job, be sure to let your vendor know as early as possible.


8.1 Inspect the job

When checking business cards, make sure trimming has been done accurately. Randomly select sample cards and measure them.

8.2 What to do when things go wrong

See page 25 in the Planning Basics section for information on this stage of the production process. You may wish to review the tips on inspection of a completed job for guidelines on what to do if there are problems.


9.1 Reconfirm shipping

Provide shipping instructions to your printer early on with detailed    m information about each location receiving shipments. It’s also a good idea to ask the printer to tape a sample of the cards on the outside of the box so the person receiving them will know what’s inside. This is especially important if there are more than one person’s business cards enclosed in the package. This will avoid the aggravation of searching through boxes trying to find each person’s cards.

9.2 Have samples delivered

9.3 Notify receiving party of job’s arrival

Find out from the printer about the estimated time of arrival of the cards. This allows you to call ahead and alert the troops to keep an eye out for the delivery. It’s also a good idea to get the tracking numbers and the courier phone numbers as a backup.

(From 2001 Via basics Planning Guide)