In an era of all-encompassing digital frenzy, the importance of print materials may be underestimated. Print is an integral part of numerous marketing campaigns and business operations. To enjoy high-quality print materials and a more stress-free business atmosphere, it's important to have a print vendor that is more like a partner, and one who is there for you to help you manage any hiccups that might come your way.

Building a relationship with a vendor doesn't have to be complicated. But it must be well-thought-out. In this article, you'll learn top print vendor management practices to ensure smooth collaboration.

1. Frequent Communication

Assuming that your requirements are as clear to the vendor as they are to you is the wrong road to take. That's the reason many vendor collaborations go awry. As much as we truly want to, print vendors don't read minds. So in order for us to get everything exactly right for you, it's best to be as clear as possible with your expectations.

It's also best to be as specific as possible about project details such as timeline, budget, specifications, and application. It's helpful for print vendors to understand the purpose of the piece, how it will be used, and if there are complimentary pieces that will be accompanying this piece. If you want a specific color, material, or ink, make sure to mention it. If you have a pressing deadline or a tight budget, share it. If your print partner has all the details, we can share ideas and tips that might make a huge difference.

Related: What Your Printer Needs for a Quote

If you want multiple copies of the same material, ask for one as a proof first. You can avoid costly corrections, botched deadlines, and a ruined relationship with a good print vendor.

2. Being Open to Problem Solving

Mistakes happen. A great print vendor will have a less than 1% error rate, but errors happen nonetheless. If you can be open to problem solving, especially if you are happy with the vendor's past work, it goes a long way. Chances are, if your print partner is at fault, they will make it right. A friendly, professional attitude helps to keep the job moving smoothly. 

Don't sever the relationship as soon as an error is made. Make an effort to solve the problem together and move on. Both parties learn lessons from mistakes, which can strengthen a valuable partnership.

Collaborative problem solving and risk sharing can take the relationship with your vendor to a new level.

3. Review both parties' Needs

A strong relationship involves a strong initiative from both parties. Since you've been very clear with your needs and expectations, it's important to understand what your print vendor needs too. When you understand what a print vendor needs to provide you top-notch services, you are halfway to reaching your goal.

Ask the print vendor directly about what they need to get timely service. Be it creative assets, documentation, order time frames, or materials, it's better to discuss them in advance.

Print vendor management means not only sharing your expectations, but also being open to understanding what they need. After all, it's a partnership.

4. Remain Organized

Your print vendor is likely handling multiple large projects for multiple clients at any given time. You always want to be in the front of the line -- and you should be! To ensure you receive the deliverables you require, and get the best results from your print vendor, keep an organized record of transactions, expected delivery dates, and other details important to both sides. 

With this record, you can know when to contact your vendor to follow up on proofs, when to order specific materials, and when to confirm they are producing or shipping your order. This will ensure that you receive the materials at the necessary time and location, and that your print vendor is aware of the necessary expectations at any given time. The more organized you can be, the more likely your print products will be delivered at the best price, and the earliest possible ship date.

5. Refer the Vendor

Your print vendors are always trying to help you grow your business. You wouldn't believe how happy you would make them if you help them build theirs. One way is to provide reviews and referrals.

If you are happy with the vendor's work, don't hesitate to share its contacts with your friends, partners, and acquaintances. You can also give them a positive review on Google or LinkedIn. It's an excellent way to strengthen the relationship while opening new possibilities for collaboration.

Final Thoughts

An efficient way to improve your print vendor management efforts is to start viewing print vendors as partners rather than third parties. The idea is simple. The better they do, the better you do, and vice versa. To achieve that, you need to discuss your goals, improve communication, ask questions, and share risks. As soon as the vendor understands all the advantages of such a partnership, both of you can benefit. If you're looking for a reliable partner with printing expertise, contact the experts at Ironmark. We would do back flips for the chance to work with you. :-)








Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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