Do you want to work with a partner, or an “order taker”?
Seriously, it’s a question you should answer before talking with print vendors about your next project.
If your goal is to re-print the same training materials you’ve used for years, someone that can take your order and do the job may be all you need. But what if you have a new project to tackle? Or want to try incorporating some online material this time? Maybe your content could use a redesign? How do you work with an order taker when you are unsure of what to order?
If you find yourself looking to create a new—or updated—training manual, publication or workbook, you may benefit from partnering with a vendor that is as interested in what you want to achieve as what you want to print.
But how can you tell if the company you are working with is going to add value to your print project? It’s not difficult for a vendor to be accommodating during the bidding stage, but the test comes after you sign a contract.
A true collaborator is one that is asking questions and trying to find solutions that benefit your project, not just their bottom line. Here are three surprisingly easy ways to judge if the company you are speaking with is going to be effective in helping you reach your goal of creating better training materials.
Clue #1: The discussion starts with a question other than “So what do you want?”
The first clue that a vendor won’t be just an order taker is how they approach your project. If the person you are talking with only wants to hear about technical aspects and not your intended outcomes, you could be talking to an order taker. If, instead, you are asked questions like “What are you hoping to achieve?” or “What have users told you worked well?” you are speaking with someone who is interested in finding the best solution for your needs.
Clue #2: Recommendations are offered based on specific industry knowledge.
Another clue that you are working with an invested partner is that they actively make suggestions. A true professional has a grasp on considerations you may not be aware of. These can have a major impact on the success of your project. Industry best practices, new trends, and alternative materials can all play an important role in the success of your project.
Even a seemingly simple task like shipping can benefit by having the help of an expert. A seasoned fulfillment expert, for example, knows how upcoming holidays impact the shipping schedule. This is crucial if, for example, your materials need to be delivered for an in-person training course on a certain day.
Clue #3: Recommendations are the result of clear reasoning
Have you ever asked a question and gotten nothing but technical jargon in response? Not the most reassuring feeling, is it? Try to find someone that is able to help you understand the thought process behind their recommendations. It could be that they’ve worked on projects like yours in the past. Or, maybe their suggestion will better help you reach your desired outcomes. Regardless, look for a vendor that is clear and open about how they have arrived at any suggestions they make for your project.
A good partner is one that is willing to work with you to create a project that reaches your goals. Their professional expertise and knowledge of industry best practices can be an important factor in turning your project into a success.
But not all vendors are alike.
As you discuss your project with difference companies, keep an eye out for ones that try to understand the real goals of your project. It should be no surprise that they have as many questions for you as you do for them. This is the kind of information a true partner needs when giving effective suggestions with clear rationale.