Every business needs & buys printing so in my opinion, selling printing is the fastest way to make money. BUT how do you do that when you don’t know anything about printing? Read this article and start making money Monday morning!
Printing is easy to sell because everyone prints something – business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, post cards, prescription pads, multi-part forms, door hangers and on and on. We have resources that let us make significant markup on printing so that’s a formula for success and the way you can start earning money very soon with very little effort. To sell printing you can walk into any business and say: “I can beat any printing prices you get, so next time you print something will you give me a chance to quote it for you?” and then say “Do you have anything you need printed now?” To make things easier for us, you can also say “if you can give me a copy of the quote from your other source i’ll guarantee you that we will beat that quote!” (we can usually beat the quotes even without knowing what the client is paying but if you can get that out of them, all the better).
Once you know what type of printing they want a quote for you need to know how to ask them for the “Job Specs” or “Printing Specs”. In order to quote any printing job you will need the following MINIMUM specifications (aka Specs):
- Type of job (brochure, letterhead, etc.)
- Flat size
- Folded size (this doesn’t always apply as with letterhead that is not usually folded)
- Number of colors (see section below re: colors/ink).
- Paper Type
- Deadline or Date Needed (is the client printing these for a trade show in 1 week for example? If so we need to HURRY!)
- Shipping methods
- Artwork – do they have their own artwork? if so does it need any changes? Or do they need artwork from us? (we can do that!)
Job Type – Obviously to start any quote you’re going to need to know what type of job it’s for. When it comes to printing it will help you to see what it is the client is taking about so if they have a piece from a previous printing, GET A SAMPLE. Be sure to ask the client if they need any changes since they printed the job the last time.
Flat vs Folded sizes – You may not have thought about it but printing is either a flat piece, as with letterhead or a post card or a folded piece, as with multi-page brochures and folding business cards. But whether a job is ultimately folded or not, it is ALWAYS printed flat first and then folded. RARELY is a job ever printed AFTER it’s folded (one example of that is SOMETIMES envelopes are printed when folded – and in that instance by the way, the envelope can’t be printed all the way to the edge (also called “Full bleed”).
There are many folding options and sometimes multiple names for the same option. For example, if you start with a flat printed piece that’s 11″ x 17″ and fold it one time (in half) you end up with a 4 page half fold brochure. But sometimes that’s also called a single fold brochure. You just need to learn all the terms so you will recognize them when you hear them. Here’s an image that shows many of the different types of folding.
Number of Colors/Type of printing – Is this a color piece or a black and white piece? Just FYI, it used to be that one color printing (black and white) was cheaper than four color printing (also called “Process printing” or “Offset printing” or CMYK printing” or “Web press printing”), but that’s not true any more in most cases. Most of the time we can get four color printing for as cheap or sometimes cheaper than one color printing so you may have to tell the client that if they keep saying they want a one color flyer or black and white brochure. Keep in mind that color must be considered for BOTH sides of a job unless the job is only being printed on one side of the paper. A job that is four color on both sides is expressed as “4/4”. If the job is four color on one side with no ink on the back then write 4/0 or if it’s 4 color on one side and one color on the back that would be 4/1. The reason process printing is called “four color printing” is because the big printing presses that are used to print these jobs use four colors of ink: Cyan (blue), Magenta (pink), Yellow and Black. There are other types of printing but the main type of printing in use for commercial use is 4 color process AND Digital printing. Digital printing is a different type of printing (more like what you see when you make a color photo copy but 10,000 times nicer). Read more about offset & digital printing below.
Paper type – there are a billion types of paper (a.k.a. “stock”) in the printing world but they all fall into two primary categories. Text Stock & Cover Stock. Text is lighter, such as the paper used in the middle part of a magazine and cover stock is heavier, such as the cover of the magazine. MOST of the time the client has no idea what type of paper they need so we will recommend something to them. It will be easier to do this recommendation if you try to get an idea of one thing: Is the client trying to save every penny or can they afford to use a better stock?
Varnish – Varnish is another one of those things that the client doesn’t know much about or ask for in most cases. However you should know what it is in case they do ask for it. A varnish is just a clear layer of ink that’s laid over the top of the job when it’s almost done printing to make the job glossy, or matte or just to protect it and make it look good, for longer.
Deadline – we can meet just about any deadline but just remind your clients that the less time we have for proofing the most likely a job will have errors. If they want us to forgo our regular proofing process.
Shipping – generally we don’t ask the client about how they want the job shipped. The shipping is determined after we locate and select a printer based on what his schedule is like and when he’s going to be done with the job. We will find this out AFTER we get the job specs and after we ask the printer for a quote and after the client gives us the deposit to do the job so generally I just ask clients when they need their job and then tell them that we will determine the best shipping method for them. Generally speaking the shipping quotes are not included in the prices we quote for the printing.
Artwork – all artwork is delivered to a printer DIGITALLY….either on a CD rom or FLASH drive or most likely by email or by uploading the file using an FTP site like “Dropbox” or “WeTransfer”. We have our OWN We Transfer site that you can reach by going to WeTransfer . You don’t need to know a lot about artwork, just know that we need it and so if the client HAS artwork please ask her if she minds giving it to you. BE CAREFUL with those files as sometimes they are the only one the client has and they can be worth thousands of dollars.
Once you’ve gotten the job specs you can tell the client that we will get back to them as soon as possible with a quote. IF the client has a tight deadline be sure that information is front & center so we don’t overlook it. Never give the client a quote without first confirming it with the production department. If the client pushes you, you can tell them: As soon as we give you the quote and you approve it and pay the deposit for it, then we will submit it to our production department and the job will get into production. As soon as that happens i’ll be able to give you a solid quote.
There is a lot more to know about printing, but this is a good start and it’s something you can do NOW. Think about it….everywhere you go you see businesses that do printing. Why not just stick your head in and do a quick, casual sales pitch? Start with the businesses that know you, like your dry cleaners and your local restaurant. Trust me, I’ve done this for 30 years and I know that it can be done. You just have to go out, start talking to people and I assure you that within the first day you’re going to have some potential clients that are asking you for a quote. That’s all we need! You get the clients and we will come up with a competitive printing quote that will blow your customers away. You will be proud to have been able to offer the clients such great prices.
I might just add one thing about process printing. Process printing (a.k.a. “Four color printing” or “Web Press Printing”) is that type of printing you see in a magazine, often printed on slick “text weight” paper. One color printing (a.k.a. black & white printing although this is a misnomer since not all one color printing uses black ink) as i said used to be less expensive but now it’s really not so if you client insists that they want to save money, tell them a better way to save money when you print something is to use a “Gang printer” (also known as a “discount printer”) as opposed to a custom printer. A gang printer is a four color printer that puts your client’s job on the printing press at the same time as he puts many other printing jobs on the press. This helps to save money dramatically and is the main reason we are often able to give the client’s better pricing on their printing. However there are some sacrifices with a gang printed job and those are as follows:
- You don’t get to select a custom or specialized paper
- You can’t print with a 5th ink such as a metallic ink
- You can’t ask that your logo color be 100% perfect, although they often are perfect…..you still can’t demand that of the printer IF you are printing a gang printed job.
- You can’t proof the press and bitch at the printer if your color is a little off.
99.9% of the time the discount or gang jobs come out PERFECT so don’t let this scare you or scare your client. MOST clients aren’t that picky about their logo colors or paper anyway and in that case discount printing is the best way to save a significant amount of money. However if you already know the client is going to be really uptight about their logo colors OR I they want to print on a new specialized paper (such as a waterproof paper) then we will need to quote the job at a different type of printer, a discount printer.