Press Checks for Dummies: Part 2

26 04 2010

Here is a general guide of things to look for on a press check.  Print for your own use or give to new clients!

 

Color – verify color against the color proof and/or PMS swatch for match.  Feel free to fold the press sheet.  Be sure to look at the proof AND the press sheet under the color specific lighting of the lightbox. 

  1. As this is a 4-color build of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK), be sure to only ask for adjustments with those colors.  Don’t ask for more “green” but ask questions that specify what you want the end result to be:  “if we add more yellow, will it make this green lighter?”
  2. Pay close attention to flesh tones- they can be tricky.
  3. Oversaturation of one color can make the rest of the sheet look muddy – be mindful of this as you check the sheet.
  4. Remember that the pressmen are not able to fix design issues, only adjust colors.

The Register

Registration –checking that the CMYK plates are all in register or in line.  Pull out your magnifying loupe (or ask to borrow the pressman’s) and check to see that all colors are lining up properly. 

A great way to verify registration is to check the circular register mark in the corner of the sheet. Also look at the edges of bold text.

Paper – Is this the paper you ordered?  Pick it up, feel it, fold it.  Keep in mind that these sheets will still have wet ink on them and the sheet may be slightly different when the ink is dried.

  1. Hold it up to the light to see if the ink has run through.
  2. Know that uncoated sheets will NOT match the color proof as the color translates differently onto coated and uncoated sheets.

Clarity – Using the magnifying loupe again, verify that the dots are sharp and clear when using a coated sheet, and reasonably clear on an uncoated sheet.  As with registration, the text is the great way to view clarity both from a distance and close up.

Magnified Ink Dots

  1.  Be sure that the ink is laying smoothly through the solid blocks of color and gradients are smooth.

  Other Details:

  1. Varnish or Coating: Look for a slight change in the gloss of the paper at the edge of the sheet to see if it has been applied
  2. Hickies:  Stray spots or irregularities in ink coverage causing small white circles.
  3.  Scumming and Ghosting: Ink or images appear in unwanted places

Above all, feel free to ask the pressman questions – this is his area of expertise and he wants this project to look good just as much as you do!

 

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Press Checks for Dummies: Part 1

23 04 2010

Nothing is more frustrating then getting a job back from your printer and being unhappy with the print work.  The sky was supposed to be blue… not purple.  Or I thought these flesh tones were supposed to be a little more flesh-like… these people are green!  Whatever the case – you have spent hours designing a piece that is supposed to reflect the brand and culture of your organization (see this article for more on the importance of color in branding) only to have it returned looking completely unlike what you intended. 

Now I know this is an extreme, but in reality what comes off the press will almost never match what was on your computer screen or in your mind.  Even the most skilled pressman (of which my company has MANY) don’t have ESP.  Yes, we make you check out a proof, but many clients don’t take advantage of another great tool offered by many printing companies at no charge – Press Checks!

For those of you who don’t know what a press check is, it is basically the equivalent of test-driving a car one last time before purchasing it.  You are already committed to running the printing job, but you can check out the actual printed piece as it comes off the press prior to the entire job being printed.  This is where you can refine the colors, check for any paper imperfections, and in general tweak your little heart out to get the feel that you want in the final piece.  

I know press checks are not for everyone.  It isn’t always comfortable being in a loud production center, sometimes they are scheduled at inconvenient hours of the night or late morning, and some piece are honestly just not that important.  But if you are brand-conscious, printing a large quantity, or even just new to the printing industry – press checks may be just the tool you are looking for.

Stay tuned for a complete “how to” of press checking!  Know what to look for and how to ask for it.





Best “Out Of Office” Response EVER

12 04 2010

We have all seen the generic “I am out of the office until May 12th and will get back with you at my earliest convenience”  out of the office replies.  Yesterday I received an automatic response that made me stop and read it twice thinking Wow – here is a rep who is leveraging her abundant personality with her value proposition even when she is out of town!  I promptly replied to her email telling her that I loved it and that I was going to steal it.  Please read below:  

“I am glad that you contacted me and look forward to speaking with you, but please note that I am currently out of the office and will return April 7th. You are important to me and I DO believe that Western is the best company to assist you, so in my absence… 

For NEW quotes, contact my colleague Vince Navarro at (713) 407.5213 or vnavarro@westernlithograph.com. He has been in the industry for 25+ years, so he can get your project going smoothly until I return. 

For PROJECTS IN PROGRESS, contact my CSR Scott Hill at (713) 407.5267 or shill@westernlithograph.com. He is my “right hand,” so be assured that you are definitely in good company! 

Thank you. 

Stephanie R. Hood” 

Now if that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.  





Creative Pre-Call Experiment #2 – Be a Pill

4 12 2009

For those of you who saw my very first Creative Pre-Call Experiment from a few weeks back, you know that I am a firm believer in a small element of “cheese” when trying to charm your way in front of a new client.   Everyone is busy and everyone is bombarded by sales people on a daily basis.  That is why YOU need to set yourself apart from the first moment the potential client (aka Target) comes across your name.

You can use these pill bottles to creatively position yourself as the “prescription” to relive the PAIN that your buyers feel.

This Experiment takes a bit more prep then the first one, but is definitely impressive at the end.

Be a Pill

Materials:

  • Actual Pharmacy prescription Pill Bottles
  • Large Bag M&Ms
  • Avery Label Paper (I used Template 5163 2″x4″)
  • Envelopes – your company colors preferred
  • Clear plastic bags (about lunch-bag sized)

Tools:

  • Stapler
  • Gloves

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Obtain prescription Pill Bottles.  After scouring local stores and realizing they aren’t sold anywhere, I begged the Wal-Mart Pharmacist to sell me a few bottles.  I was able to purchase each one for exactly. $0.15 each.
  2. Next, put on a pair of gloves and scoop the M&Ms out of the bag into the bottles.  Be careful to not get your gross germs on your future client’s treat.
  3. Open Microsoft Word.  File>New>Search Template: Avery 5163.  This is the trickiest and most time-consuming part of the process.  You will not find an exact blank label pattern, so you will need to modify one with a plant decal or random ugly font.  I am not the most computer savvy so I am sure there is a faster way, but I had to manually delete and then re-insert the font and spacing that I wanted into each individual label.  Be sure to paste your company’s logo at the top as if the prescription is coming from the “Fittje Brothers Printing Company” Pharmacy. 
  4. Figure out a creative label that revolves around how you will relieve the Target’s pain.  You can see what I wrote below in the photo or here.  Then print 2 sheets so you have 2 copies of each label (you’ll see why in a sec).  Take one sheet and apply all the labels to the already candy-filled bottles.
  5. Next, write a creative introductory letter to the Target to the tune of “I know you are busy so I’m not going to waste your time.  I will call you on X day at X time.” Insert letter into a company-colored envelope with one of your business cards.
  6. Put labeled bottle and envelope into a clear plastic bag – be sure there is enough room left over for you to fold and seal it closed.
  7. Grab your extra label sheet.  The labels are difficult to read when wrapped around the pill bottle so this is how you will ensure that the target appreciates the full extent of your cleverness;
  8. Fold the top of the clear bottle over and hold closed with the extra label you have on your spare sheet.  Ta-Daaa!  You’re done!
  9. Now you just have to run around and drop these babies off.  Be sure that you actually call on the day and time that you indicated in your letter!

Experimental Conclusions:

Mixed.  Of the 12 bottles I put out, 4 were to current clients, 4 were to people I had been trying to call but hadn’t gotten through to, and 4 were to brand new names.  Clients LOVED these little treats and thought I was incredibly clever.  Almost immediately I won a bid with a client that I had lost almost all other bids with.

People I had tried to contact previously didn’t really respond.  I have put in regular calls prior to and after giving them pill bottles, and either way they are less than interested in what I have to offer.

For the new clients, my call was taken 3 of the 4 times.  Of those 3, all said that they were very satisfied with their current printer but left the door open for me to contact them in the intermediary.

Sooo all in all… I think this COULD be a very successful if targeting the right market such as a health care facility or hospital.  I think it was successful in that my creativity made me stand out and EVERY person I spoke to remembered me once I mentioned the pill bottles.  It was a failure in that I didn’t make any new clients, though I did further a relationship with an existing client.  It may be too early to tell… It has only been one month since I dropped these off and I’d like to believe that I planted the seeds for future business.





Making Sure the “Margin of Error” Happens to Someone Else

24 11 2009

Last week a fellow sales rep was complaining about another job of hers had been screwed up in production and wouldn’t deliver on time.  She may lose this client because this is not the first time there have been errors with their account.  I listened and expressed the appropriate amount of concern.  All sales people understand that quality control is one of the most frustrating parts of our job – we literally have no control over the quality of the product that is produced.  Or do we?  

I am not knocking my production staff.  I would NEVER do that.  The guys that I work with are AMAZINGLY meticulous, thoughtful, and detail oriented.  But no matter what industry you are in or how talented your team is, there is a margin of error.  This article will tell you how to make as sure that those errors happen with OTHER people’s jobs, not yours.

So how do you effectively  implement a quality-control program when you actually have nothing to do with the production process?  You become a part of the production process.  Duh.

Now before you get all “but it’s not my job” on me, you need to stop your whining.  If you want to get results you need to change your perspective.

So here is my 5-Step “Oops!” Factor Reduction Process:

  • Never Eat Alone:  Nothing helps you develop a strong relationship with your production team like regularly breaking bread with them.  I recommend spending at least 2 lunches per month with them if not more.  This will help you learn more about them as well as make you available if they have questions about a job of yours they are working on.
  • The “Good Morning” Factor: This one is super simple but I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they appreciate it.  Say “good morning” to people and mean it.
  • Roll Up Dem Sleeves: It’s common sense to walk around the production area to check in on your jobs at least once a day.  But it is NOT common sense to ask if you can help.  Instead of nagging and rolling your eyes about a missed deadline, ask if there is anything you can do.  If they ask you to do something, DO IT and SMILE.  Remember that they wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t needed.  Be available to pick up, deliver, and in general be of service for your jobs.  If your support team sees that you are engaged on the same level they are, they will care more about your jobs and you will be one of the first to know if there is an issue.
  • Over-Appreciate Overtime: If you know the production guys are working over a weekend or is being burdened with a lot of overtime- you know they are stressed.  Do something to show you care.  Show up unexpectedly (when you are supposed to be off) bearing beer or some baked goodness.  Walk around with the case/plate and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work.  Even if they came in to complete someone elses’ job – you are showing them you notice the extra effor they are putting in to make the whole shop thrive. 
  • Ask For Input: These individuals are most-often experts in their fields.  Our Bindery Manager has been in the industry for 37 years.  That is longer than I have been alive!  When you ask for their opinion on the best way to produce something, you are simultaneously showing them how valuable their endless knowledge is and giving your client the benefit of the years of experience these people have.  I know that my production team has saved my booty MANY times with issues I never even knew existed simply because I asked a question.

Look – I know you can’t get involved in every step of the production process or it will inhibit your sales.  So don’t get involved in every step.  Just get a little bit involved.  A lot of the stuff I have done has been on my free time – deliveries after hours, taking cards home and collating them while I watch TV, and coming in on Saturday to bring my favorite guys a few ice-cold beers as they are finishing up an arduous extra shift.

Maybe this process won’t help you at all, but I will tell you from experience that the jobs I sell are consistently delivered ahead of time and with the highest quality.  I genuinely care about the people who help make me look good to my clients, and in turn they care about the jobs that they produce on my behalf.

THANKS GUYS!!





Creative Pre-Call Experiments 1 – It’s a Cake Walk!

19 10 2009

Here’s a harrowing statistic –  more than 78% of all mail is opened over the trashcan.   Dang.  Not the best news for a green sales wannabe who sends out enough “hello” and “thank you” cards to deplete her entire company’s supply of postage stamps. 

No joke – that has happened twice.

So what’s a cold-call adverse girl to do to warm up that first call??  I have decided to conduct a series of creative pre-call approaches to see how they measure up.  I have estimated that my response rate from my handwritten cards thus far has been around 0.01%.  So here goes – chEasy Money Part 1.  The cheesier, the better. 

It’s a Cake Walk:

Materials:

  • Gift Bag (preferably a unique, company-related color)
  • Tissue paper (company color)
  • Note card with envelope
  • Assorted Candy
  • Ribbon (company color – getting the theme here??)
  • Card stock (cut to business card size-ish)
  • 2 business cards
  • Single slice of cake (can buy at almost any local grocery store)
  • Single-wrapped plastic utensils
  • Napkins

Tools:

  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch 

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Fill the bag with tissue paper and sweet candied goodness:Step 1
  2. Tie ribbon around the cake box like it’s a gift.   Also tie the plasticware and napkin together with the ribbon. 
  3. Make the ribbon pretty by curling the ends with the scissors.
  4. Hole punch a business card and piece of cardstock.
  5. Inscribe “Working with (my company) is a piece of cake!” on the card stock.
  6. Tie business card and cardstock together on top of the cake so both are displayed:Step 2
  7. Place the plasticware and cake into the bag on the very top of everything:Step 15
  8. Write a clever note to the client (samples of mine to follow) on the card. 
  9. Place the card against the bag and hole punch in two places.
  10. Tie ribbon through the two holes to make a pretty bow on the front.  Curl the ribbon (duh).Step 3

Experimental Conclusion:

SUCCESS!!  Well so far.  I have used this once – on a local radio-based ministry.  I found out the names of the Communications Director and Development Director using LinkedIn and decided they’d be the best targets.  I dropped off the goody bags on a Friday morning and had an email requesting a printing quote from them by the following Tuesday!  All of my correspondence with them has been personal and pleasant and they have even given me insight into what their budget is for this upcoming project.  All from two pieces of $2.00 cake from a local bakery and a little creative cheesin’.  It’s going to be a bit of chEasy Money I think… har har har. 

The experiments will continue…