Have you been wondering whether to print your own labels or team up with a professional printing service to print them for you? It’s a question almost every entrepreneur asks at one time or another, and there’s a good reason to ask it. It can seem easy enough to just use your own in-house equipment and paper to create labels, especially during the first few months of operation when sales might be very low.
But, as time passes and business picks up, you start to wonder about getting expert help with label design and bulk printing. Building your own brand image from the very beginning of your company’s existence is essential. In the long run, if you’re serious about building the business into a going concern, outsourcing label printing is the best way to go. The question is, when should you do it?
Why would a small company print their own labels? Here are a few reasons we hear from entrepreneurs:
- “We only ship a few orders per week, so labels just aren’t a major concern right now.”
- “Our in-house equipment is very good and meets our needs for printing a hundred or so labels per month.”
- “Our company is on a very tight budget, and all our spare capital goes into marketing and production. Labels are low on our priority list right now.”
- “We’re good with in-house labels for now. When order exceed 100 per month, we’ll probably go with a professional label solution.”
Those are all good reasons to do your own labels, but there’s one problem. Business often takes off faster than you expect, which means it’s entirely possible to be left with a huge number of orders and not enough labels to go around.
Additionally, every homemade label you send out contributes to your brand image. If you opt for non-professional design, inexpensive ink, and printing equipment that is obviously “homemade,” then you’re passing up a chance to create a solid brand image from day one.
Why Choose Professional Printing?
When the time arrives that you decide to get your labels created by an expert team of experienced printers and designers, you’ll reap the benefits, some of which are:
- The ink stays put because it’s professional-grade, so there’s no worry about smearing or fading
- Cost goes down with bulk or large-order printing
- There are all sorts of design/finish options that homemade labels don’t offer, like unique varnishes, white ink, custom fonts, metallic effect, and hundreds more
- Assistance from experts who handle special label situations every day
- Fast turnaround time when you need to get out a large, last-minute order right away
- No worries about your own printer malfunctions, running out of ink, or other snafus
- Labels that fit perfectly with your company’s brand identity in tone, color scheme, and the overall impression they make
- The ability to plan ahead and always have some “emergency” labels in stock for unexpected needs
- A go-to team of experts whenever a question comes up or you decide to re-brand any time during the product life-cycle
Best Practices When Finding a Professional Printer For Product Labels
In the general scheme of things, labels are a vital component of any company’s brand identity. Plus, because they are also one of the least-costly components of branding, there’s no excuse to skimp. Keep in mind that for the vast majority of your customers, the product label is the first thing they see, whether they ordered online or in a retail store.
And, unlike shipping charges, package design, package materials, advertising, sales, and general marketing efforts, labels give you a lot of return on a relatively small investment. In a way, an excellent label is like a tiny work-horse that delivers your business’s image and vital information directly to the eyes of customers.
First impressions are sometimes the only thing people remember about a product, which is why labels are the unsung heroes of the marketing world.
Take the Time To Do It Right
Once you reach the decision point and say, “It’s time to transition from homemade labels to professional ones,” you have some research to do. Unfortunately, too many business owners hire the closest printing company, the one their friend uses, or the one that guarantees the “cheapest” labels. Be careful not to fall into any of those traps.
Here’s a better way to vet a printing company before you decide who will be making the labels for your products:
- Make Some Phone Calls: Making a half-dozen or more phone calls will reveal much about the customer service support offered by the companies you’re considering. Do they answer their phones promptly during business hours, or does it take more than 30 seconds for someone to pick up?
Is every call routed through a complex, time-consuming automated system, or is it easy to get a real person on the line? Are the reps who do answer phones (if any do at all) knowledgeable and helpful when you toss a few simple questions at them, or do they mumble nonsensical responses and only make an effort to get your business?
- Read Reviews: It’s not always good to believe everything you read in online reviews, but it is often possible to get a good feel for how well a company satisfies its customers. The trick is to read multiple reviews from several sites, check Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings, and look for common themes in customer comments.
Typically, it’s easy to notice whether a printing company has problems with billing, basic customer communication, pricing transparency, product quality, reliability, delivering orders on time, and more.
- Ask For Samples: Don’t rely on online images alone. Ask for some label samples in order to get an in-person feel for what the company can produce.
- Evaluate Catalogues: View the online catalogues of any printing companies that make your short list. Do they have what you need in terms of materials, customization, shapes, design help, and label sizes?
- Ask Questions About Pricing: The better printing companies will be glad to explain their entire pricing schedule. Be careful when all you hear is “We have the cheapest labels in the business,” because “cheap” is usually the operative word in that statement.
Assess pricing based on value rather than the lowest, raw dollar figure. When you shop for cars, clothing, or eyeglasses, for example, do you always choose the “cheapest” option? Most consumers shop for the best combination of price, quality, and customer service they can get, which is almost never the lowest-cost option.
- Inquire About Minimum Orders and Turnaround Times: Two central components of the label business are turnaround time and minimum order costs. When speaking with companies over the phone, remember to ask specifically about their minimum order quantity (MOQ) to see if it lines up with your needs. Then, find out what their standard turnaround times are on regular and special orders.
If you’re a very small company, it’s a good idea to find a printer that offers suitable MOQs. That way, you won’t be stuck having to purchase thousands of labels when you only need several hundred at a time, for example.
Want Labels That Get the Job Done?
Creating a recognizable brand image is more important than most new business owners think. At Mid-Atlantic Packaging, we have the experience, equipment, and knowledge to create the perfect product labels for companies of any size and in any industry.
Check out what we can do for you by visiting the label section of our website, or just call us on our toll-free line at 800-284-1332 and have a chat with one of our team members who can answer any questions you have about professional labels.
When it’s time to connect with an expert in the labeling business, Mid-Atlantic has a wealth of experience working with entrepreneurs, startups, small companies, medium-sized organizations, and large corporations. We’ve literally seen it all and done it all when it comes to creating powerful, memorable labels for our valued clients. Why not take your printed labels to the next level and solidify your company’s brand image?
We’ll be glad to help in any way we can, so don’t hesitate to contact Mid-Atlantic Packaging when you’re ready to get the job done right.