Looking Beyond the Service

Business / Graphic Design / Illustration / Printing / Resources

Looking Beyond the Service

As creatives, the majority of the work we do isn’t tangible. It’s a service. But along with that often come tangible goodies our clients want to get their hands on to further their business: business cards, letterhead, brochures, booklets, promo items and anything else you can slap a logo or illustration on. This is a huge opportunity for us. Here you have a client that you know wants to spend money, yet most of the time we let them walk off with the files to let someone else finish what you started. Why?

They’re YOUR client! Provide them with the services AND materials they want. How? It’s simple:

1. Start a relationship with a trade printer

Sometimes they’re called wholesale printers. They’re large printing companies that do high quality printing at low prices. How? Because they don’t have a sales team, they have you. You bring them the jobs and they run them for you at a price you can mark up. If you look hard enough, you can find 1000 full-color business cards for $20 shipped. If your client was looking to spend $100+ anyway, let them order through you and for $80 they’ve got a deal, no hassle because they’ve worked with you and you just pocketed $60 for work you were probably going to end up doing anyway. Google “trade printer” or “wholesale printer” to find one you like or ask your peers on Twitter or Facebook.

2. Mark up your work when you deal with vendors

It seems strange that a lot of designers don’t think to do this. It doesn’t have to be exorbitant, but a flat fee on top of the design helps defray the time you spend searching around for the best prices for the gross of floppy frisbees your client needs for a tradeshow. Time is money.

3. Make connections with local vendors

Google local promo companies and printers and ask for catalogs and samples. This will put you directly in contact with someone there. So next time you have a client that needs something, you don’t have to pack up their files and wish them luck. You can say, “Actually, I have a contact at Acme in Springfield and they make great coasters.” Right there you’ve become an asset to your client and can not only continue your business relationship, but can make some money off of it, too.

It may feel kind of shady to ask your client if they need services like these, but think about it from their perspective: You just designed them the perfect logo and business card and they want it printed right! What’s the sense in turning them away when you know what needs to get done and the best people for the job? Besides, think of the hell of finding out your client wants you to send files to their new favorite vendor… VISTAPRINT! (Not our favorite place.)

Caveat: There is one thing we should note: When you’re in charge of getting the printing done, it’s on you. Be sure to read the printer’s Art Submission Guidelines and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Make sure your file is prepped correctly, the colors are specified, the quantity is correct, the paper is right and the job is on-schedule. If the printer makes a mistake, they should reprint the job at no additional cost. If you make a mistake, it’s all up to you to make good. So cross those “t”s and dot your “i”s. Oh, and make sure your client has signed off on the job.

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