A commercial print company’s ability to design for print is often a key component in its profitability and long term viability. Being able to carry design right through the finishing process, match printed materials to a client’s Web presence, create special folds and effects, and design pieces that save the client money in mailing costs are all distinguishing characteristics of highly successful print shops.
Carrying Design through Finishing
Veteran print service providers are unanimous in the belief that carrying the design all the way through the finishing process is critical.
Among them is Peter Palermo, owner and general manager of Elm Street Printing & Graphics in Camden, ME. “My advertising experience has taught me you must have the right input, and have agreement on the strategy right from the start,” says Palermo. The former advertising agency executive, with wife Kim, bought the print shop in 2003. Elm Street is now positioned as a marketing communications firm.
“That’s the biggest challenge in working with the clients, that you get agreement upfront; you’re on the same page, and there are no surprises down the road. If we ask the right questions and get the right input, and we’re talking to the right people, we can get the concept and design right 90 to 95 percent of the time, the first time.”
Palermo’s clients can count on Elm Street to handle graphic design and copywriting, Web design, and some email marketing. “You can engage with us to develop a plan, all the way through execution,” he says. “If a client comes to us and needs some piece of collateral material, we can take the input, design it, write it, and bring it to fruition.”
Lou Goldberg, president of New Haven, CT-based Goodcopy, which handles everything from concept to fulfillment, voices similar thoughts. “The more control you have over the job, the better it is for everyone,” he says. “You want to be able to make your client happy. Deadlines are very tight, and if you can control all aspects of the project, you can meet everyone’s needs.”
Carrying the design concept through finishing is one of the strengths of CL Graphics, a 31-year-old Crystal Lake, IL, business that bills itself as a “marketing-across-media resource firm.” CL Graphics takes projects from the design stage right through printing, binding, and mailing, president Rick Schildgen says.
It can also repurpose the same message for email marketing or digital applications, such as landing pages or personalized URLs.
Match Print and Interactive Design
Clients often fail to grasp the importance of their printed collateral material matching their mobile or desktop websites. If it doesn’t, their brand presence will not be consistent, says Jeff Westphal, president of Westphal’s Group in Brownsville, WI. Launched in the mid-1980s, Westphal’s Group is a provider of printing, graphic design, embroidery, promotional products, websites, and print collateral materials.
A common problem is that companies have collateral materials printed by their local printer, but don’t ensure their websites are updated so everything looks the same, Westphal says. “Their website should look exactly like their printed collateral material, or follow the same theme,” he says. “It’s pretty simple to do that. When that doesn’t happen, you get a sense of instability in the company. The end user may think these are two different companies; that they’re not showing the proper image.”
Matching print and interactive design is all the more essential given that many companies’ print materials direct prospective customers to the websites of those companies, Schildgen says. “The website needs to look the same,” he observes. “[Customers] need to know they’ve come to the right place.”