A recent conversation with a client over their request for a print quote has led me to write this entry about the cost of using an online printer vs a local resource (LKN Media or a local printer).
At LKN Media, we do a lot of print design and printing for our clients. When we design something for print, we understand how to create the files so that the printer can properly print the job without intervention or difficulties. We know the required specifications and output formats. We coordinate with the print vendor and upload the files, review proofs and make any necessary changes. Ultimately, we are responsible for the final product. We include the appropriate costs to achieve the desired results in our quotes.
We give excellent service and fix any minor issues with the files before they are submitted for print whether we created the art or not.
Some clients are more Internet savvy than others and have presented us with competing quotes from online print houses. Most of these online printers are “gang-run” printers that group many jobs together and are able to give lower prices (more on this in a moment) due to volume.
So what’s the big deal? Why can’t we just match the online prices? Sometimes we do! In fact, more often than not we can come extremely close to most online print vendors. But let’s take a look at the reasons why that online vendor may be more expensive than you first think.
1) Are you a (insert your business here) or a print designer? Time is money. It’s too easy to spend 2 hours trying to get your files right .. outline fonts? Crop marks? Live areas and gutters? Bleeds? CMYK? All these variables are crucial for your job to be printed properly.
2) Shipping. Include shipping in your costs. Larger jobs can incur high shipping costs that might outweigh any savings.
3) Right printer for the job? Printers have varying levels of expertise. We don’t use one printer for all jobs. That gang-run postcard print vendor may not be the best option for your 32 page catalog.
4) Customer Service. While the larger online vendors may allow you to talk to an actual human, will they consult with you about your job if something doesn’t look right? Will you be able to trust the printer will give your job the attention it requires?
Those are just some of the issues to consider when deciding how to get your project printed. While it may make sense for some jobs to be sent to an online print vendor, the majority would benefit from the extra attention given by a local resource.