The importance of proofing

Your marketing budget is a precious thing. You need to be certain that you are getting the maximum return on both your intellectual and emotional investment in the project, as well as garnering an exceptional financial return.

You explore every avenue open to you to reduce your initial outlay. Whilst questioning every penny you spend is, by and large, a good thing, it can, if you are not careful, lead you to the worst of all worlds, the false economy.

Imagine this, your dearly beloved significant other has arranged for you and your family to go away on a last minute holiday with two other couples and their offspring. All you have to do is book the flights and book into the same hotel as the rest of the party, your partner will take care of everything else.

You book the flights but when it comes to the hotel you find a cheaper option ‘Just around the corner’. Your significant other isn’t happy, but you declare ‘We aren’t made of money and the cash we save will help towards paying for all the fancy meals your friends like to go out for’. Point made, job done.

You arrive at the resort and the taxi drops your fellow traveller’s off at their luxurious accommodation and continues on for a considerable period of time, nearly half an hour, to your less than salubrious new abode. The first glower from the significant other is likely to come after ten minutes of extra travel, steam and fury after twenty, and on arrival your youngest is in tears as he is missing his friends already. Not good.

At this point things start to really go downhill. You realize that the area you have taken your loving family to is at the seedier end of town and is frequented by a less than fragrant type of cove. The promised ‘swimming pool’ is brown, the air conditioning system is a broken window pane and the room next to yours is apparently available to rent by the hour.

Despite assuring to the rest of the party that the cement factory next door won’t spoil the general vista and artisan ambience too much, you are aware that they are not a happy bunch.

Your significant other then delivers the killer ultimatum that unless you arrange to move everybody to the rather splendid five star surroundings currently being enjoyed by her friends, the following will happen;

  • They will divorce you and take you for every penny you may earn between now, and the point at which you develop an alcohol dependency, and the time you bring down the curtain and join the choir invisible.
  • The children will be so traumatized by the marriage breakdown that they will drop out of school, take up glue sniffing, have their ears pierced with rings the size of bicycle clips, wear their trousers around their knees and have the words ‘It is all my dad’s fault’ tattooed onto their foreheads.
  • he whole family will have to appear on the Jeremy Kyle show to be pilloried and declared unsalvageable.

Despite your protestations that ‘things aren’t so bad’, the crazed stare from your significant other offers no debate that they will take drastic action unless you resolve the situation RIGHT NOW.

You phone the original ’boutique’ hotel only to be informed by the super smug manager that they now only have an ‘Executive Family Suite’ available that costs about the same per night as the Greek national debt. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask. You book it. Peace reigns and you are left to ponder the error of your false economy over a gin and tonic that is the price of a small family saloon.

It could have been all so different

Like the scenario above, printing has its own great hidden false economy. It is called proofing.

There are usually two types of printing project, the one that isn’t colour critical, but just has to look punchy and generally fabulous, and the other that has colour critical matter within it. Think clothing or furniture catalogue.

Whilst I would always recommend that you have at least some Hi Res colour guides regardless of the project, it is absolutely essential that you have them if you are working on a colour critical piece. How on earth does the person doing the press pass know what the real colour of that sweater or sofa should be if they have nothing to compare it to? Telepathy?

The other thing to note is that  whilst proofs have gotten cheaper over the past decade they have also gotten worse in terms of quality. The advent of ink jet proofs can play havoc with light tonal areas.

So don’t rely on that old box in the corner that was last colour profiled when Jay Z was topping the charts around the turn of the Noughties with ‘Big Pimpin’, get your printer to run out your proofs. They will be as colour correct as they can be and they should always be able to match them.  The last thing you want to be saying on receipt of your brochure is ‘It looked great on the screen’.

You may feel that the other option is that you attend the press pass to help with the colour correction yourself. This is absolutely fine but once it is on press the cost to make any significant change is absolutely horrendous. New plates, standing time, wasted paper, and by the time you have made the necessary amends, the job could easily run late jeopardising everything you have worked for.

So how much will it cost to run proofs? Usually between £5 and £10 per page which is absolute peanuts when you consider the cost of any given project. The design, print, paper and mailing costs  may well run into many tens of thousands of pounds. A couple of hundred pounds is neither here nor there to help ensure your product looks as good as it can be.

So what is it to be? Still not planning to run proofs? Fair enough, I believe Jeremy has got a space on his show in mid January, the Green Room awaits.


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