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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

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Custom Printing: One Printer’s Best Sales Practices

As a commercial printing broker, I like to be wooed by a new printing vendor. My favorite words to hear: a heartfelt “How can I help you?”

I had lunch with the VP of Operations and the Business Development Manager of a local custom printing shop about a week ago, and since that time I have seen a number of positive signs that have led me to want to work with this vendor. Here’s a short list.

The Job Cost vs. Its Final Price

At lunch I brought up my client’s custom pocket folder brochure (of which I have written a number of blog posts recently). I had seen the printer’s equipment on the plant tour prior to lunch. I knew this printer could do both digital and offset printing, and I was interested in the next step: pricing the job.

I was a little taken aback when the VP of Operations noted, “We’re not the cheapest printer in town.” Fortunately, this particular custom pocket folder/brochure will be a flagship piece for a global insurance corporation. It will be a branding tool, and therefore I think the client will be open to spending a little money for a quality product.

Within a day of my submitting specs (hours after the lunch), I had received four options for the pocket folder/brochure, including different sizes produced on different equipment (digital and offset) along with comprehensive pricing.

Fortunately this is early in the process, and my client will have time to use the initial pricing information to direct the choices she makes in designing the promotional piece.

What I learned from the four options and their prices was threefold.

    1. The price range was higher than the lowest bid I had received (I had requested pricing from five vendors with different equipment on their pressroom floors). However, it was lower than any of the remaining four bids.


    1. This commercial printing vendor was proactive. I had enough information to make my head hurt, but upon close examination of the estimates I could see a reasonable price range reflecting various options I could share with my client. She could choose based on her budget.


  1. I had a printer who really wanted my business, enough to come up with a number of potential solutions. I had had a positive experience on the plant tour, seeing the equipment and talking with the pressmen and prepress and post-press staff. I had liked the printed samples (they were stellar). And the printer’s consultative sales approach and attentive customer service increased my desire to do business with this company.

Surprisingly few commercial printing vendors go to these lengths to help.

And She Sent Photos, Too

The Business Development Manager sent me photos of paper dummies she had made (for the 4- or 8-page brochure that will be stitched into the oblong, 12” x 9” custom pocket folder). To me these were like a box of chocolates. I was being wooed.

The paper dummies, along with notations showing their overall size plus the size of their step-down short folds, taught me three things:

    1. The Business Development Manager wanted my business enough to make three paper dummies (and to use these to help explain the options for the interior brochure in the pocket folder).


    1. By sending photos of these paper dummies, she could get this information to me immediately (without a time lag for postal delivery or a courier).


  1. By reviewing these photos, I could determine just how much of the interior space in the pocket folder (printed via offset lithography) the interior pages would fill (in the 24” x 9” space), assuming that the individual pages produced on a 13” x 19” sheet (in an HP Indigo 7000) would be folded down in a stepped manner (each sheet 1” shorter than the next).

Again, very few commercial printing suppliers do this kind of sales work. It is a consultative approach. The printer absorbed the information I had provided regarding the press run (1,000 copies of the pocket folder to allow for “evergreen” information, and 100 to 250 copies of the stitched-in interior brochure to allow for frequent updates of dated material). The printer listened to the business goals and then provided a number of approaches across four pricing tiers.

What this really says is, “We’re not the cheapest, but we provide a lot more than ink or toner on paper. We understand your business needs. Here are some options for a solution that will increase your revenue by persuading prospects to engage with your business.” (In contrast, many printers just say, “These pocket folder/brochures will cost…”).

6 Responses to “Custom Printing: One Printer’s Best Sales Practices”

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit
    my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just
    wanted to say wonderful blog!

  2. Himanshu says:

    Hello Dear Print Broker,
    Great to learn that such printers exists, may be the credit goes to the Business Dev. Manager lady who went “out of the way” for a small job, some other employee in her place may or may not.

    I have been in printing since 30 years,we used to do the same but END OF THE DAY, ‘THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH IN THIS WORLD’IT COSTS A PRINTER A LOT AS TIME COST,BESIDES OVERHEADS,CONSULTANCY IS NEVER FREE BY A DOCTOR (or PRINTING DOCTOR), A LAWYER,ENGINEER or EVEN ADVERTISING FIRM. Why should printer be an exception ? Because it is a buyers market ? What if that job did not come to the same vendor.To develop a client, it is ok once in a while but not everytime.
    At Johnson & Johnson India,this is a major problem, the mktg guys become biased due to this, one gets opportunity to make great samples for a million danglers, other does not for no apparent reason.Transparency and Equal Opportunity is a MUST.
    Regards Himanshu

    • admin says:


      Thank you for responding in depth to the PIE Blog article. I think there’s a fine line between generosity and being taken advantage of. I have fired clients from time to time. In other cases I have been very generous because it was appreciated. And good things have come back to me. It’s a balance, I think.

      In the case of this vendor, and some others I’ve worked with, I have been willing to pay more (or lose a bid on a job) because I see from the overall treatment by the printer that he will be very responsive and committed to providing a quality product. I’m still working on the particular job noted in the blog. I will send out revised quote requests at some point and will include the responsive printer I wrote about.

      I think you have to pay for quality and responsiveness, and I’m willing to do so. In the long run it’s cheaper than a less responsive printer.



  3. Patty says:

    I would love to know who it was! Sounds like someone I would like to do business with them!

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your reply and your interest. I think it would be unfair to give free advertising to one print shop; however, if you contact the CEO of Printing Industry Exchange and ask him to give you my contact information, I’d be happy to discuss this. The printer in question is a Maryland-based shop.


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