If you’re running a business or are even working in marketing yourself, then you’ll probably need to work with third parties, and one of the most important (and yet often overlooked) partners you’ll need to find are your print media specialists.

Despite the rapid growth of digital marketing channels, traditional print media still definitely has a place in Australia’s marketing landscape. Many small business owners and larger scale corporations alike enlist the services of printing companies to produce marketing collateral like fliers or even window posters.

And unlike digital marketing services that can be outsourced internationally, it’s best to work with local vendors for your corporate printing services. In other words, if your company is based in Sydney, working with a printing company in Sydney can help ensure that you can receive your finished prints as promptly as possible and always in time for time-sensitive promotions (i.e. Black Friday, Easter sales, etc.).

So alongside a locally based business, what else should you be looking for in a printing company? Here are just the top 5 green flags to keep an eye out for when honing your shortlist of print and promotional materials suppliers.

1. Work with a Branding Expert (Who you can Speak To!)

When looking for a printing company you work with, you’ll want someone who understands the incredible power that branding and PR possess when it comes to growing your business. While it’s important to find someone who can follow directions, it’s a big help if your printing partner can provide input and potentially point out anything wrong you might be doing. This is just one of the many ways that your business can benefit from working with experts in their field.

Alongside finding a company that’s managed by genuine experts, it’s also vital that you engage all your shortlisted printing specialists in communications (both face-to-face and over the phone or email) to determine not only their competencies and comfort levels with using industry language (a key indicator of experience), but also just how easy it will be for you to communicate with them moving forward. It’s absolutely crucial that you find a partner you can communicate with. This involves understanding your own communication style and that of your team, and making sure that it’s compatible with your chosen printing company. 

2. Get to Know the People at the Printing Company

Drawing on from our last point, communication mishaps or even just communication breakdowns can often have disastrous financial consequences. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’ve placed a large order and find out about unexpected delays or perhaps even something wrong with the finished product: it’ll cost you lots of money to take down the faulty marketing material and have them re-printed. Putting out low-quality or inaccurate material might ruin the public’s trust in your company and hurt you in the long term. And whilst this rarely happens with expert printing specialists, accidents can still occur at the worst of times. 

In many ways, determining whether or not to work with a partner is like knowing when or when not to hire an employee. You’ll want to look at things like cultural fit and previous experience, as well as whether or not your potential partner matches your communication style. 

You’ll also want to get the opinion of your team. Someone you work with might have experience working with a particular printing company in the past job, and getting referrals this way can help you narrow down your options. Similarly, if someone on your team has had a negative experience working with a company you’re considering, you should think twice. 

It’s also worth examining your team’s own communication styles and how they may be adjusted to better accommodate a quality printing company. For instance, you may want to hone you and your team’s B2B communication skills in order to ensure that operations are smooth and efficient.

3. Prior References

How do you typically know if a company is capable of producing a quality output? The answer can be found in two methods: reading through client testimonials, and case studies on a company’s website. We recommend that you do both! 

When looking for a printing partner, you’ll want to know the type of work they’ve done in the past, and who they’ve worked with. First, this is in order to figure out if the printing company’s work is up to your standards, quality-wise. You’ll also want to know if they have experience working with the sort of volume you’re looking for.

It’s also important to know what potential partners have done in the past so you’ll know if they’re a good fit for the style of work you’re looking to get done. Sometimes, a company can have an excellent track record of quality but just not be a good fit. So don’t be afraid to really comb through their portfolio and assess the work that they’re showcasing. Similarly, ask questions – both to the printing specialists themselves and perhaps even when approaching some of their previous clients. It’s all about doing your due diligence.

4. Think About Cost

While there are plenty of factors to think about when choosing a partner, one of the first you’ll need to consider is cost. As a business, part of your job is keeping expenses to a minimum, and you’ll want to save money wherever you can. 

Often, comparing different companies’ costs is more complicated than it looks. You’ll need to take into account things like bulk discounts and potential discounts down the line once you’ve worked with them for a few years. 

You’ll also want to take prior relationships into account. If you have an existing relationship with decision makers at a particular printing company, you might be in a position to negotiate a lower price. This would also make it easier for you to work with them. 

5. Look for Diverse Product Offerings

Diversity in product offerings is also ideal. A good printing partner is a key cog in your branding machine. You’ll want things like stickers and posters to be beautifully made and error free. Thankfully, if a company does have pages on their website dedicated to sticker production, poster making, or producing watermarked Post-It Notes, then you can assume that they have the resources to sustainably produce these products in the long term. And doing business with these printing companies will also ensure that your business has access to a greater variety of promotional materials.

And remember: don’t scrimp on this! Poor marketing collateral can have an incredibly damaging effect on your brand image. It might lead to people viewing you as unprofessional and erode their trust in your company.

Choosing any sort of business partner is no easy task, and this is no different when it comes to printing companies. The task involves not only looking for someone who produces high quality at low prices, but finding a partner who is compatible with your particular business. All companies are different. You’ll have unique needs depending on things like size, industry and company culture. 

It’s crucial to put in place a rigorous process you can use to screen potential partners. In this article, we went over five things to look out for when looking for a printing company. If you’re currently on the market for one, a good place to start is to run your options through the criteria we’ve laid out and make a decision from there.