Telling a Great Story with Print Samples

Submitted by pmcgrew on July 26, 2018
Pat McGrew

Often overlooked when juggling all the dos and don’ts of selling inkjet’s value to your clients— your print sample kit. Print samples that tell a story by pairing the print solution with a functional story differentiates you from your competitors. Further, story-telling print samples give your sales reps stronger talking points when engaging with prospects and existing customers.

In my role at Keypoint Intelligence, I’m on the road visiting printing companies of all sizes and flavors to talk about workflow. As part of our assessments though, often the conversation flows into sales and business development topics too (it’s all part of knowing the big picture!) and in most cases, we discover that most sales people have outdated or boring print samples to share if they are carrying any at all! In some cases, they have some vendor-provided technical samples to show off print resolution and image quality, but nothing that tells a story that will intrigue their clients. In other cases, the rep will offer to print off customer samples to show these same technical specs. But in both cases, these print samples never show the full capabilities of the print shop!

That approach leaves so much opportunity behind! Print samples, when done right, have the power to not only show off these production capabilities of your Océ VarioPrint i-series systems but have the power to sell new application-driven products and spark innovative solution-driven conversations with your customers.

Technical Print Samples vs. Business-Driving Samples

Don’t get me wrong; technical samples are great to have. They allow you to show off your command of the press, the great color it can produce, and the range of substrates you can support. They let you establish the table stakes of inkjet printing.

Going beyond the technical aspect, creating a print sample that tells a story to show off your capabilities can have immense value for your business. Consider the types of customers you serve and the types of printing they do. They may not do all their printing with you because they don’t understand your capabilities. Building functional print samples that demonstrate complete communication campaigns will get their attention.

For example, have you logged in to view the application samples available in the thINK MKTG Lab? I first saw the Paradise Beach Resort print sample series at the Xploration meeting in Florida earlier this year. It caught my attention because it built a story that also demonstrated the capabilities of the printing system. The kit included everything from resort name tags to menus and activity advice. It was a complete communication lifecycle for vacationers, yet it was a print sample! This fun set of print samples showcased a variety of substrates and several finishing options. I was so intrigued by it that I even asked for a set of my own to show as part of my print sample show and tell presentations. (At the time, I didn’t realize this beautiful set was available to thINK members. Go download your files now!)

paradise beach resort print samples


If you print for hospitality, restaurants, manufacturing, insurance, medical or any type of professional organization there are ways to create packages that will resonate with their communication styles. Your print samples shouldn’t be boring. Be creative and blaze a path to more engagement with your customers!

Tips for Building Print Samples That Sell More Work:

  • Show off your press. Build a set of technical samples that show off great facial tones, dynamic textures, bold colors, and even muted colors.

  • Dial in the color management. Remember that just downloading great images from your favorite stock library isn’t enough. You will want to color manage the images to show off the best your press can be!
  • Share the details. Consider printing the images with all the technical information, including color settings and paper specifications, on the reverse side. Samples are a leave-behind so make them continue to work for you!

Now that I’ve reminded you of the value of print samples, what’s next? Start by taking a dispassionate look at your print sample library. Take an inventory of what you have. How old are they? How often are they refreshed? Do they truly represent all your capabilities? Then, create a plan and execute. Whether its downloading the samples available to you as a thINK member or creating your own sample campaign, keep your customers in mind and show off your capabilities!  


Pat McGrew is the Senior Director and Evangelist for the Production Software and Services team at Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends. As an analyst and industry educator, Pat works with InfoTrends customers and their clients to promote communication effectiveness and best practices. Her experience spans all customer communication channels, plus transaction print, data-driven, and production commercial print using offset, inkjet, and toner. Find Pat on Twitter as @PatMcGrew and on LinkedIn.