The Pros & Cons of Commercial Print Sales
Distributors report that the rewards far outweigh the hassles when promoting commercial printing.
It's about time for distributors to sell commercial printing—literally. The time and energy spent turning around a commercial printing job are much greater than that involved with traditional products, but then so are the rewards.
Of those who ranked among BFL&S' Top 100 Distributors this year, 22 percent sell commercial printing. Here, three of them discuss their transitions into this market and how it differs from working with traditional products.
When Janis McNeal left her employer in 1987 to establish her own distributorship, she agreed not to sell traditional products to area customers. Instead, the president of Memphis, Tennessee-based McNeal Graphics wanted to serve commercial printing needs.
"I find color work much more exciting," said McNeal, "and I already had a marketing background from working at FedEX with additional experience in coated papers, inks and binding."
Posters, booklets and bro-chures are among the products McNeal provides. "We do a lot of brochures, which are usually designed by a company's ad agency," she said, "but we sometimes get involved in design aspects as well."
McNeal pointed out that every industry utilizes marketing materials, whether it's a lobby display in a bank, a calendar for a local merchant or a manual for a manufacturer. Getting orders for manuals is always nice, noted McNeal.
"If they're not perfect-bound," said McNeal, "you usually end up selling binders and tabs. It's like getting three orders in one."
Although very rewarding, McNeal readily admits that there are some challenges to providing commercial printing. "Printing quality is more critical and typically requires a four-step proof process—a laser proof from disk, a dylux proof, a match print proof and a press proof. Not only is it very time-consuming, but it's very expensive to make changes," she said.