Printer Primer: 7 Signs To Look For In An In-Store Marketing Partner

Do you have a big idea for your next in-store marketing campaign? Maybe you’ve just got big goals, but you’re not sure where you should start.

No matter where you are in the process, you need a commercial print partner who’s more than an order taker. You need an expert who can help you create something amazing while maximizing every dollar you spend.

How can you be sure you’ve found the right visual merchandising partner?

Look for these seven signs.

1. They stay up to date with advancements in their industry and yours

With quality as table stakes, our research shows that half of retail executives say that innovation is the main benefit provided by current vendors for in-store marketing.

It’s true—in fast-paced world of retail marketing, the best vendors aren’t necessarily the ones who’ve racked up the most years in business.

Of course, experience matters. You can’t replace that “been there, done that” expertise.

However, a commercial printer who has been around for decades but hasn’t kept up with the latest advancements can’t always give you the best service.

You want to find a printer who is constantly moving forward — a company that’s actively learning, growing, investing in technology, and deepening expertise in their own industry and yours.

Imagine has invested over $100M in technology and innovation over the last 10 years.

As you consider a vendor, ask about their book of business.

  • Do they work with companies like your own?
  • Do they serve clients who face the same challenges you do?
  • Do they apply learnings from one industry to the next?

If the answer is yes, ask for references! It’s always a great sign when a potential vendor has clients eager to talk, especially if those clients are in your own industry.

2. They engineer every project to deliver the greatest possible value

Have you ever fallen in love with a big, brilliant idea — only to have your heart broken when you realize that it probably falls outside of your budget? Or its logistically too complicated to produce at scale?

Don’t write off this idea yet, instead take it to your potential in-store marketing vendor.

A good printer will use their expertise to develop multiple options that can help bring your vision to life.

Yes, budget constraints are always a reality.

Our research indicates that budgets for in-store marketing has remained relatively flat year-over-year. Even those that have had incremental budget increases are struggling with inflation, higher costs, and increasing demands.

But a skilled print partner has a vast toolbox to work with.

At Imagine, we use our value engineering skills to give our clients the best value for their printing dollar. We’ll show you “good,” “better,” and “best” options while respecting your budget.

You may be shocked to discover just how close to your dream you can get! Or even surprised by some ideas you hadn’t even thought of.

3. They can scale with you as your brand grows or changes

Different campaigns operate on different scales. Every campaign will not be the same for every single one of your outlets.

You need a print partner flexible enough to both scale up and scale down, whether they’re printing assets for a thousand locations or special displays for a few flagship stores.

But scale isn’t just about “how many.”

Sometimes you also need to adjust based on the complexity of your displays.

A flagship location may get your “best” option, an intricately designed display with more pieces printed on a high-quality substrate. Meanwhile, other locations may need less pieces with a more cost-effective option (but one that still grabs attention).

Either way, you want to ensure each store gets exactly what they need—nothing less and nothing more. Your partner should have sophisticated kitting capabilities to reduce waste and increase ROI.

No matter how your campaigns might scale, you need an in-store marketing partner who is nimble and can deliver no matter the size or complexity of it. A printer who can’t make these adjustments will most likely end up letting you down.

4. They work at the speed of your market

You don’t need us to tell you it’s a jungle out there!

Your competition moves quickly to respond to consumer and industry changes, and you’ve got to be fast to keep up too.

When your commercial printer is slow to adapt, it can be difficult for you to capitalize on trends and emerging consumer behaviors. You need a partner who helps you stay nimble, and one who can accommodate late-breaking design changes well into the printing process.

They should also be able to adapt with you.

Whether you are evolving your store layouts, remodeling, or launching entirely new formats—you need a printer who can not only keep up, but keep bringing innovative ideas to the table.

By working at the same speed you do, a great in-store marketing can help you race ahead of your competition.

5. They help you meet your sustainability goals

Once upon a time, using sustainable materials in displays was considered a “nice to have.”

Today, the market has changed.

Consumers prefer to shop with companies that follow sustainable practices.

For a good commercial print partner, sustainability isn’t an afterthought. It’s something considered at every step of the project, without losing sight of the budget.

After all, you shouldn’t have to choose between a great-looking display and one that’s environmentally friendly.

A good vendor can help you have both.

6. You’re not on the hook to ask the “right” questions

When selecting a vendor for your project, you might feel a lot of pressure to ask all the questions! You’re eager to be sure nothing’s left out or forgotten.

But one of the key signs you’ve found a great printer is they don’t put the burden on you.

Instead, they’re the ones asking the questions and trying to learn as much as possible about your project and needs.

At Imagine, we take a very intentional approach with every client we work with.

Our team is deeply curious and wants to learn everything we can about the way you work, your stakeholders, and the workflows that work best for your operations.

Our goal is to emulate what you’re doing today so we can fully support you from day one. We act as an extension of your team and from there, we’ll work through the enhancements you want to make and prioritize what you need most.

7. They use technology to connect the dots on your projects

Everything we’ve talked about so far — value engineering, sustainability, speed to market, and the rest — are all interconnected pieces of a far greater whole.

The best print partners use campaign management platforms to help manage projects from end-to-end. Our intelligent in-store marketing technology allows clients to manage, streamline, and verify projects from a single, flexible platform. It’s designed to accommodate your workflows and adapt to your operations.

Technology should simplify complexities throughout the process so you and your partner can work together seamlessly on every project.

Imagine the difference of choosing the right in-store marketing partner

We know what makes a great print partner because we’ve engineered those qualities into the way we do business.

From the day you start onboarding until the delivery of your in-store marketing assets, we’ll work closely with you to provide the best printing options for your budget.

Ready to get started? We can’t wait to help. Talk to us today →

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