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Do’s and Don’ts of Outsourcing Print

25 April 2017
Marketing & Selling Print

Do’s and Don’ts of Outsourcing Print

So you’ve decided to outsource print. Whether you’re expanding your product range or taking some pressure of your production facility, there are huge opportunities waiting to be taken. Our Dos and Don’ts of outsourcing will show you how to make the most out of outsourcing print and ensure the time and money you’ll save is properly reinvested back into your business.


Offer Alternatives

Customers are not always knowledgeable in print. Simply taking what they say as gospel might be easier when taking an order initially, but the end result is often not what they really wanted! It is your job to educate the customer about the options available and try to gauge what they really want from what they ask for.

For example, a customer may come in and ask for flyers printed on “just standard paper similar to what you get at home”. We guess you’ll probably assume they want 80gsm uncoated stock. More often than not, the client actually wants the most cost-effective stock, which may not always be an 80gsm uncoated with your supplier. It’s always worth asking the question to show you care about their end goals.

The same can be said for the gloss vs silk argument. Many end uses of print simply see uncoated and gloss and their only two options. Yet, we’ve found you’d be surprised at an end user’s reaction when presented with a silk against a gloss. Providing this sort of advice and properly talking over the options may just be how you build trust and turn the customer into a loyal client.

Get to Know Your Supplier (Preferably in Person)

We won’t lie, outsourcing print can have its headaches. A vast number of these can be ironed out at the beginning by getting to know your supplier and in return, giving them the opportunity to get to know you more. Any relationship works smoother when there’s open communication between both parties. Their processes, strengths and weaknesses will become apparent as you work together.

The first step is to fully understand their artwork requirements and always work to these. Ensure the products you produce yourself and the ones you outsource each has clear, separate guidelines if your artwork requirements differ from your supplier.

The best way to get to know your supplier? Visit them! You can see exactly how they work, get a feel for the business and actually meeting face to face will help prevent any uncomfortable misunderstandings later on. You could not only find out about services they offer you weren’t aware of, but it’s a great opportunity to put forward your own ideas of what services you’d like to see.

Give Them Something to Takeaway

Sales rarely happen in one meeting, so make sure you give any prospective clients something to take away and keep you at the forefront of their mind whilst they make a decision. It will anchor them to your service not just for now, but later down the line if they choose someone else for this project.

A well-presented sample will instantly give a positive impression of your company and showcase your products in an attractive way the client can picture. Catalogues and guides of your product range, on the other hand, will allow them to browse through and position you as an expert in your field.

There may be multiple people involved in the purchase decision when it comes to larger companies. Samples and catalogues give you the ability to demonstrate your quality beyond your shop. This will put you in the lead against suppliers who don’t or even can’t.

Keep in Touch After You’ve Made the Sale

How you act after the sale will determine whether your new customer purchases again. Securing a second order can determine the entire growth of your business! “65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied.” Source quoted as Gartner

So how do you secure that vital second, third and fourth sale? Follow up after an order to check everything was ok is a start. Ask how their campaign went to prove you genuinely care about their goals and show how you play a part in that project. Will they need any print further in the future and when might they be looking again?

All this information is valuable. You can see what they might need and what problems they want to get around in the future. It opens up opportunities for you to offer different products and services. Finding out when they want to buy next means you’re aware when to approach them next.

Put this information onto a CRM system (free versions are available with a quick Google search) or even with a well-structured excel spreadsheet. Set reminders to act upon this information and your client will be impressed you remembered. Concentrating on each relationship will put you in a much stronger position for referrals.

You can’t just assume because they bought from you once, they will again. Many companies take pleasure in shopping around and sampling different companies. Having the above information will at least give you a seat at the table to project you into their mindset when it’s time to buy print again.

Set up an email or even a printed newsletter to keep in touch with your customers all at once. Reminding customers you are there to help and updating them on any new products you offer may persuade them to return (chances are by outsourcing print you’ll have plenty of new products to offer!) Communicate with your customers and keep your business relevant.


Spend All Your Time Buying Print

We understand the desire to profit maximise every job, but have you ever considered how the time could better be used marketing your business?

By choosing to outsource print you have changed the focus of your business from manufacturing to selling. So spend your time selling! Time is money. It’s all too easy to spend more time scouring the market, chasing quotes and haggling with suppliers than growing your business.

For every hour you spend on this, ensure any additional margin you receive for doing so exceeds or, at the very least, equals what you expect to pay yourself. This process will lure you out of a false economy so every hour is well spent. Of course, this is subject to the volume of free time you have. If you have an abundance, there’s always worth portioning that time to marketing your business.

Remember, the best supplier isn’t always the cheapest. It could be the one that makes your life as easy as possible. The time you spend back and forth with your supplier could easily outweigh the money you’re saving on product.

Forget to Add Value

We all know how fiercely competitive the print market is. It’s so important to understand your value proposition, particularly as the growth of web to print has opened up the market and given easier access of the end user to the printer.

This means it’s no longer enough to simply base your business on being well networked. You must offer something beyond a printer. This could be offering a bespoke design service that supports your print business, or that you’re a specialist in co-ordinating mail campaigns. Maybe you could also offer the ability to distribute printed media or even provide a one-stop shop that combines both physical and digital marketing.

You could simply be the best person in the local area when it comes to helping those not familiar with the jargon of the world of print.

All of the above are difficult for an online printer to compete with. They are bespoke solutions that offer personalised campaigns which many businesses crave and cannot find from an online solution. It is this advantage that allows you to charge more than your customer’s first hit on a Google Search.

Shy Away From Customers

No longer printing in-house will, massively, free up your time. So don’t trade the time you’d spend manning a press for sitting in front of a computer or on the phone to suppliers. Your business success will largely be based on your ability to attract customers, cultivate lasting relationships and retain clients.

Pour all your free time into creating an amazing customer experience! Spend your time talking to clients to discover what challenges they face; ask them what they ultimately hope to achieve and work around their goals. You can help develop their marketing strategy, find creative ways to keep their spend within budget and become more of a print marketing consultant role, rather than just their print supplier.

You’ll also have more time to construct creative ways to find new customers. You can develop your digital presence link to digital marketing course, attend local business events and visit nearby organisations to talk about their print needs. Relish the opportunity to develop your business and ability to engage with your audience.

Following these steps will ensure you stay on track and reap the most you can from outsourcing. Readjusting your business model can have a few teething problems, but once you start working on your business instead of in it, you’ll soon see the benefits in your margins and customer satisfaction.


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