Five things every
marketing expert needs to
know about print

Including, says Stephen Mackey, things you knew once but have since forgotten. And some other things that you probably didn’t know to start with.

To find out more about why print is back in fashion or just to yak on about print profiles, contact Stephen.

Print, eh? There we were thinking we could forget all we knew about profiles and curves and stock – and then someone in the marketing department ruined it all by pointing out that print still has the highest engagement and reach of almost all media.

The problem is of course that in the meantime many of us have forgotten what we knew – and many others of us are too young to have had much exposure in the first place. Here are my top five tips you need to know – or remind yourself – about print.

1. Are you posting it?

Number one is not actually about printing but is still critical to print products: don’t print anything without knowing how you are going to get it to customers. And if you are posting it, who's sending it? Pay close attention to Royal Mail’s mail format rate card. The weight and size of the finished product (including any carrier sheet) can have a huge impact on the cost of the mail, so make sure your designer knows your size and weight boundaries.

2. Wet proofs, Epson proofs, scatter proofs, book proofs.

Do you know what kind of proofs you really need? Do you know what kind of proofs your printer is offering? As printing technology has developed, the number of proofs available has proliferated. Do you need to check the text? (Lo-res digital.) That the pages are in the right places? (Book.) The colour? (High-res digital.) The reproduction of photography? (Scatter.) Make sure your printer or your agency know what is most important to you.

3. Choosing a printer

Print is often one of the largest lines on the budget of a project and it is tempting to choose the cheapest printer you can find. Be careful. Printers vary hugely in the quality they are able to achieve, even on the same paper and equipment. Make sure you ask for samples on actual stock and use your judgement – remember, in the world of print, you really do get what you pay for!

4. Should it be web? Or should it be digital?

As the market for print has changed, many of the big suppliers have merged or gone under. As a result, many marketing people call up a sheet-fed printer to do the job regardless of the size. But if you are printing more than 100,000 copies you may well find that a web printer can offer better value and surprisingly similar quality. Conversely, if you are printing fewer than 1,000 copies it is now possible to achieve a similar quality to litho on a digital press – typically an HP Indigo.

5. Getting emotional

One of the most compelling reasons to print something is that customers still respond – viscerally, emotionally – to a physical product. So when you are thinking about paper don’t forget to do the same – the feel of it in your hand is just as important as the spec.