4 min read

Trust is the Key for Commercial Printers in Getting Advertising Agency Print Work

Featured Image

Sue Cohen is the Hatteras Advertising Sales Specialist. It is a role for which she is well suited. Prior to Hatteras, Sue spent three decades as a print buyer for the Doner and Commonwealth/McCann agencies,

Sue Cohen Of Hatteras Printing Head Shot where she oversaw the annual printing of Chevrolet’s 36 North American catalogs. When it comes to knowing what agencies want from printers, Sue is an expert. We sat down with her recently to get her insights on how commercial printers can attract and retain agency work.


Q: What is the first question commercial printers must ask themselves when going after ad agency print work?

“The first question to ask yourself is: who are you and who is your company? That is not a simple question to answer, but you should have a concise, easy-to-understand response in case an agency comes asking. Even if they don’t ask, you need to be confident in who you are and what you do. You don’t want to blow that first impression with a busy advertising agency client by being unsure about who you are and what you can deliver.”


Q: What do agencies look for when choosing a commercial print provider?

“Agencies want to see what you have done. Yeah, the latest technology is awesome, but do not underestimate the power of CRAFT and LEGACY with agencies. It’s good to share where you are and all the new technology you have, just don’t leave out where you have been. Past performance counts. Show your work. Even younger millennials like to know they are working with seasoned professionals who are masters at their craft. It gives them confidence in you as their printer. Don’t tell the agencies what to do, but as long as you are gently educating and bringing ideas to them, they will view you as a trusted resource and partner. 

“Agencies will ask how long a commercial printing services provider has been in the industry. Its tenure in commercial printing must speak volumes about its abilities to serve their agency clients. They are educated consumers, and they will generally ask about a commercial printer’s portfolio of previous work.”


Q: What’s the best way for commercial printers to get the attention of ad agencies?

Have something cool! Gather information, watch what they are producing, what they aren’t, and where you could add value. It may be in fulfillment, or finishing or one small piece of the job. That is ok. When pitching to agencies, focus on what they don’t have but might want, as opposed to what they already have that you do, too. Give them something different and a reason to choose you. That distinction can be huge.”


Q: Do testimonials and print samples matter?

“Yes, Yes, YES! Include testimonials of your past and regular customers. Don’t forget to include printed samples that incorporate the printing method, materials and finishing with all quotes. It’s easier for advertising buyers to champion what they can see and feel, and pass along for approval, whether internally or externally.”


Q: How important is pricing and budget to ad agency print buyers?

“Provide cost-saving options, and options for producing the piece as if there were no budget concerns. The buyer has what they need from you to make a decision, and at the same time you have given them ideas for execution and shown off your capabilities.”


Q: What about pitching new ideas for ad agency clients?

Agencies are protective of their clients, and printing companies need to respect that they will be working with the agency — not directly with the brand — so pitches, ideas and communication should all go through the ad agency.

“At the same time…agencies are looking for ways to help brands cut down the barriers between customers and products. So, when a commercial printing sales representative comes to the table with an idea that sparks a campaign, it strengthens the partnership with the agency, and the agency gets to be the hero to the brand, while relying on the printer to execute the vision.” 

TRUST IS PARAMOUNT! Today, as with the brands they service, agencies are looking for a single resource they can work with - a single point of contact to send files to, to check on status and to verify quality.  It is a relationship that will take persistence and very well might push the limits of what printers think is possible, but the end result is a partnership that benefits printers, agencies and brands alike.”

As someone who worked as an agency buyer and production manager for over 30 years, I can tell you that if you follow these tips they will improve your effectiveness in selling commercial print work to advertising agencies.

Contact Sue Cohen at 313-624-3300 or via email at scohen@4hatteras.com.


About Hatteras Inc.

Hatteras, Inc. is a full-service design, data, apparel, print, and mail company headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan. Hatteras services major corporate partners in a broad cross-section of industries from automotive to healthcare to direct marketing to the public sector. Hatteras specializes in high-quality offset, digital, screen and large format printing. For more information, visit www.4hatteras.com, call 313.624.3300 or email cservice@4hatteras.com.


Learn More 


Contact Us and a Hatteras expert will be in touch right away. Or call (313) 624-3300.