Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story… fourth in a series of tips on how to save money on printing.

Tip #4: be buttoned up

Back in my ad agency days, one of the highest compliments you could pay someone was to call them buttoned up. Buttoned-up people are organized. Together. On top of things. No missed details. No “oops!” moments.

You will save money on printing by being buttoned up—both when you place your printing order and at every stage of the print production cycle.

Buttoned-up jobs go more smoothly than disorganized, scattered ones. And printers like jobs to go smoothly just as much as you do!

Button up your print job with these Disaster Avoidance Tips

When you release the job:

  • Review your initial written specifications and bring them up to date. Be sure the quantity has been confirmed.
  • Supply these specs to the printer along with the job. No, everything the printer needs is NOT “in the file!” Include the shipping information, too. Few people do this, but it eliminates last-minute panic calls: “Hey, we are ready to ship your order today, where are these going?”
  • Spell check one last time, after those last tiny text edits are made. That’s when errors tend to sneak by everyone.
  • Release clean and complete files to up the chances that your job will proof without a hitch: Remove unused fonts and colors. Re-check your measurements. Be sure colors and special effects have been applied consistently throughout the document. Include all links and be sure that they are up to date.
  • If you’ve manipulated any images significantly, be sure to supply the camera raw or original PSD files. That way they will be close at hand if needed. (Some designers manipulate their files right out of sufficient data without realizing it—until they see a disappointing proof.)
  • Supply a folding dummy that shows exactly how you want the final to look when it’s trimmed and finished. Many a revise will be avoided with this step.

When you review proofs and press check:

  • Allow sufficient time to review color image proofs thoroughly without rushing. If you spot every change you want to make during your first viewing, you’ll save money. Whenever possible, discuss image proofs with your rep as you mark them up so he or she will be able to interpret your wishes to the prepress operator back at the shop.
  • When reviewing composed proofs and bluelines, again, do not rush. Be sure that everyone who needs to approve them sees the proofs and signs off on them before they go back to the printer. I can guarantee that the one person you leave out of the routing will be the one who insists on a crucial last-minute change—the kind that costs money.
  • Show up for press checks on time. Then once you’re press-side, review everything carefully, but don’t dally indecisively. Time really is money.
  • Approve a printed, finished sample before your client sees it.

If you do all of these things, chances are good that your clients will receive their printed products on time and as expected. They may even say, “Boy, you are so buttoned up!”

And here’s the bonus: The next time you ask that same printer for a bid, he is likely to recall that working with you was painless—and give you a price without (as one friend calls it) the pain-and-boredom surcharge.

Add your ideas!

How do you  run a buttoned up print project? Add your ideas in the comments below.

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