In my last post, I wrote about how to find an overseas printer for large print projects. As I worked long distance again with a printer in Asia this winter, I was reminded of a few things that ensure successful communication with a print representative who is far away, and who is probably not a native English speaker.
Keep your written messages clear and jargon-free.
In North American culture, we often start or end e-mails with a bit of small talk. But when you’re working with someone for whom English is not their first language, the more they have to read, the more chance there is of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Keep your e-mails or texts kind but clear and to the point. Don’t use idioms. Re-read messages before sending them to double check for clarity.
Make sure all your questions are answered.
Of course, you need to have a clear contract with your printer — you know that. But if anything is not clear to you about the project, be sure to ask questions until you’re sure you’re both on the same page. It’s legit to ask for paper samples, samples of previous print projects they’ve completed for other clients, or a printed sample to be sent to you. Your overseas print representative should be able to supply almost anything your local printer could supply, just that it will take longer and cost more to ship.
Ask for multiple ways to contact your print representative.
In the world of long-distance printing in Asia, phone numbers, e-mails and websites change more often than with established North American or European printers. If you’re working with a printer that you like, make sure you have at least two different ways to contact your print representative, such as e-mail and phone, or e-mail and WhatsApp.
Ask ahead about local holidays or festivals if your timeline is tight.
Another aspect of working with a long-distance printer is that they celebrate totally different holidays or festivals than you do. When you’re ready to submit your proof changes, they may be taking the train home to ring in the Year of the Pig. When you’re eating turkey dinner, they may be binding your latest catalog. Double check for any holiday dates that might affect your timeline.
Don’t hesitate to phone if needed. (But please, check your printer’s time zone.)
While most long-distance communication these days is done by e-mail or text message, sometimes the clearest way to sort out a misunderstanding or ask a question is by phone. Picking up the phone can smooth out differences; people are more likely to be gracious when they hear a kind voice on the phone.
As you can see, in order to receive the print project on time and done right, it’s essential to communicate clearly with your overseas printer. I hope these tips help you to have a confusion-free experience printing offshore.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! If you'd like to know the contact information of the overseas printer I have used, or would like me to be your liaison for a large overseas print project, please write to me through my contact page.