Many of my clients rely on my advice when it comes time to choose the company who’ll print their stationery, signage, event booths, etc. and I only recommend those I have worked with and whose quality and customer support have been exemplary. Here’s your one-line takeaway:
Do your homework, or let someone like me do it for you.
Where I’m in uncharted territory, I do the research to find 2-3 best options. I also play guinea pig and try new options when it comes to my own materials, sometimes finding a new favorite printer, PrintPeppermint.com for example.
Cheap, Not Bad
Your printed materials represent your brand, so don’t sacrifice quality for price. My first experience with VistaPrint.com in the early 2000’s was cheap AND bad. As such, I avoided them for a decade. Recently, however, I gave them a chance to print a small run of my own as 10 years is a long time to be mad at someone. I’m not heartless, ya know!
Typically I recommend sticking with 16pt paper or heavier, but was looking to give Vistaprint a run for their money and went with their “standard” 14pt stock. I have to say that I’m impressed with the results at their very reasonable price point (¢5 per card as of 2018) and have since recommended them to clients on a budget.
If you’re not familiar with a particular print shop, you should ask them to send you samples so that you have a base line from which to work. Compare samples from multiple shops, looking closely at ink distribution. Where possible, limit your initial print run…some shops will print business cards in batches as low as 100, for example.
Once you’ve confirmed the quality of the work and customer support of a print shop, it makes sense to place larger orders. Because setup is often a big part of the printing process, your printing price per-card can go down dramatically with a larger order. At one of my regular printers, 100 business cards will run you ¢35 per card, but at $59 per 500, you’re down to about ¢12 per card; a notable difference.
So consider the project…will you eventually use 500 bizcards before needing to change your phone or address? If so, go big. If you’re wild at heart, use that savings to upgrade your card by adding Spot Gloss, Foil, or even a custom Die Cut. You only get one chance to make a first impression, after all.
Check a print shop’s green credentials to see if their products and the printing process is as eco-friendly as possible. Remember, printing is a chemical process at its most basic and can have a not-insignificant ecological footprint. Sustainable printing companies offer comparable products at reasonable prices, so for most printed projects I recommend a printer like Seeds Printing or check online for eco-friendly shops nearby.
What’s behind the curtain?
You will, of course, want to make sure that your needs are met by your chosen print shop. Do you need your order expedited? Do they offer eco-friendly products? Perfect binding? If the shop is local, ask for a tour of the facility to determine their level of professionalism and to establish a rapport with your service rep. You can learn a lot about a company by how they treat potential customers when face to face, and what the heck, you’ll be supporting your own local economy!