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3 Reasons You Should Always Give Your Printer Visuals with Your Print Specs

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, right? Well, when it comes to submitting specs to your printer for an estimate, a picture could be worth a thousand dollars—by that I mean saving you that thousand dollars or more! Let me explain.

When you send specs to your printer and ask for an estimate, my guess is you are expecting an estimate that you can count on being accurate and that you will hold your printer to that estimate assuming you change nothing on your end. It may be a project for you if you are an end user or it could be for your client if you are an agency. Either way, experience tells me that you want that estimate to be a binding contract for the project. I’m here to say I agree with you, but only if 2 criteria are met: the specs don’t change after the original estimate and you supplied visuals with the estimate.

When I refer to a visual I simply mean a working PDF to show the layout, ink coverage and page count (if it’s a multiple page brochure). This PDF doesn’t have to be the final document in terms of the copy, but it should be accurate for the 3 elements I just referenced. Now, here’s why these 3 elements are important and can save you that thousand (or thousands) dollar mistake!

  1. Layout
  • When you supply the basic layout your printer can gauge if there are crossovers (which could affect the binding). If you don’t know what a crossover is it’s when an image crosses over the binding gutter from one page to the next in a spread.
  • If you have a lot of body type that is built in 4C process your printer should be wise enough to caution you against this. This can pose major registration issues on press. That type should be printed as black or a 5th color if you want a grey type or something other than black. That adds more money for the 5th color—see below for more on that.
  • If you have page numbers, other type or images too close to the edge of the page your printer can advise you to move those elements in a bit so they don’t get trimmed off due to standard bindery creep.
  1. Ink Coverage
  • Here’s where the big cost factors come into play. When you spec 4C process and you have tons of saturation and large areas of heavy coverage of a particular color that could be a problem—especially if that color is a corporate brand color. For better quality that color should print as a spot color so it can be controlled independently of the other 4 colors on press. This is more expensive (more plates, make ready time and ink) but in the end it will allow your printer to produce a higher quality brochure.
  • Maybe you requested a dull coated or silk sheet and your specs are 4C process but no protective coating. If there is anything above light ink coverage you really should request an overall satin aqueous coating to seal those inks and prevent scuffing. If you fail to supply visuals and don’t spec aqueous, your printer would be well within their right to have a conversation about charging you for the aqueous before they move into production. Depending on your relationship with your printer, maybe you can work out a fair solution to this.
  • Ink coverage can also play a factor into the paper selection. For example, maybe you are requesting a nice textured sheet with lots of tooth but you have ink from corner to corner on every page. This may not be the best use of that textured paper, and you may not get the type of ink laydown you were expecting. By supplying the visuals to your printer you can have this conversation and make sure you are both on the same page about expectations for the final look and feel of the piece.
  1. Page Count
  • Do I really have to say much here? If you spec a 16 page brochure and it’s actually 16 pages plus a 4p cover that’s a big problem come production time. Depending on the quantity of the piece that could be several thousand dollars of a discrepancy and could put you and your printer in a really tough spot. Supplying the PDF in the estimating phase allows your printer to confirm the page count and discuss any differences between what your specs say and what your file actually shows.

So, do yourself and your printer both a favor and always supply visuals with your print specs. If you can’t because no visuals exist yet then please come to an agreement with your printer that the estimate is only for initial budget purposes and that the printer can provide a final estimate upon reviewing the art. This will prevent ugly misunderstandings and keep you and your printer in a happy place and ultimately ensure your final printed piece turns out just as you envisioned in the concept phase.

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The Power of a Card

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

This blog post was originally written and published on LinkedIn by Dean Petrulakis last year.  However, the message still resonates.  The power of print shouldn’t be underestimated.  The emotional connection print can forge is undeniable.  Read on to learn why.

card for blog It was my birthday the other day, and I was so happy to receive so many kind wishes via text, email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and even WhatsApp.  I’m blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life—be it family, friends or clients.  I was truly humbled by all the birthday wishes.

However, it was the 2 wishes I received in the mail that touched me the most.  One was from my mom.  What would you expect from your mother? I love my mom to death, and she sends me a card every year on my birthday.  Her card touched my heart in a way only a birthday wish from mom can.  The other was from a good client and friend of mine.  She sends me a card every year on my birthday.  She’s been doing this for at least 5 years and maybe longer.  If she’s reading this she knows who she is.  She also sent me wishes via Facebook and text.  Talk about multi channel birthday wishes—that’s it right there!

Now for the sake of clarity (and my marriage!) I should also point out I did get wonderful cards from my wife and children, but I’m specifically referring to the 2 cards I got in the mail.  Maria, if you read this at some point I’ve covered my tracks now 🙂

But seriously, I’m not saying one bad thing about anyone who reached out to me electronically. I do it all the time. Like I said, I was honored to receive so many kind wishes. But the birthday cards had a different kind of effect on me.  Maybe it was the fact that I love print and the emotional reaction it can create. Maybe it was because my mom and client took the time to buy the card, write a handwritten note, address the envelope, seal it, affix a stamp and mail it.  Seems like a lot of effort, right?  But that’s what we did before email, texting, messaging apps and social media.  Maybe it was the smell of the card when I pulled it out of the envelope?  Yes, I’m a print sniffer—I confess!

I’ve tweeted countless times about the power of the handwritten note.  I write them all the time and send them to clients for a variety of reasons.  I love it when I receive a handwritten note as well.  There’s something about ink on paper that makes that note connect with the recipient in a visceral way.  It also takes effort to do it, and I know I appreciate that.  I believe most people do as well.  So the next time you want to make a lasting impression on someone, think about sending a card.  Bust out that pen that doesn’t see the light of day much these days and write a heartfelt note.  You never know the effect it might have on the other person.

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