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Aug 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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We all want our firms to stand out from the crowd in some way. On the other hand, we want standards to make all our work look the same. My oh my what a touchy issue this is. Let's explore the “wanting to stand out” theme.

We are all “high quality printers” — right? I have checked the Yellow Pages in many cities and looked under “Low Quality Printers” and “Average Printers,” and I found none listed. We all offer great prices, wonderful customer service, a fantastic sales team, etc.

How can you actually differentiate your firm? All of the above items are a given today. But let's look at the actual product. There are, indeed, ways to differentiate.

  1. On-time delivery. Your percentage should be 100% — no excuses. I am amazed when I visit firms and ask their percentage and hear the number. Delivering late is the worst thing you can do.

  2. Clear invoices that match the quote. Simple, yes, but you should see some of the ones I see.

  3. Gloss coatings. High-gloss coatings can really make the work, and the color, pop.

  4. Specialty coatings such as “Soft Touch.” These coatings can make a job look and feel like a million dollars.

  5. Stochastic (FM) screening will give more detail to the process color subjects.

  6. Specialty screening for many types of work.

  7. Metallic effects as well as some of the newer metallic inks.

  8. Running to high densities and proofing to those densities can be very impressive. There is new technology coming from Color Control Network that is worth looking at.

  9. Implementation of good color management software brings about great-looking color and a very good proof-to-sheet match.

The basic point is that differentiation is not “fluff.” It is something that the customer can see as value. You should not have to put a 100x microscope on the print to be able to see the difference.

Raymond J. Prince is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. He is vice president and senior consultant, operations management, NAPL (Paramus, NJ). Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or e-mail