Delivery: Too Often an Overlooked Piece of the Marketing Package

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.


Too often a publication can be beautifully designed and printed but the delivery goes a-rye and makes the project a complete failure. For instance, I once had a client use a very high-end marketing kit for a press conference on delivery-trucka huge federally subsidized underground railroad system.  We designed a beautiful promotional kit for the event. At the event were to be lots of VIPs including U.S. Congressmen, Senators and various other federal, state and local government officials.  All steps were taken to ensure that this was an exquisite piece with optimum print quality, a press check, aqueous coating and a special spot color plate.  No expense was spared and no corners were cut. The piece looked great.

Then came the delivery…

Unfortunately the final delivery was attempted but the driver took a wrong turn and arrived at the venue after the event occurred. Needless to say the client was quite embarrassed due to the actions of one individual in the mix. Luckily we did not hire the printer but had merely provided the names of several good local printers. Nonetheless, everyone looked bad since the end-product was basically rendered useless.

Here’s some very simple suggestions to avoid delivery disaster:

1. Be sure to ask the client, “Is there a hard deadline such as a conference, board meeting or other public gathering?” Always request projects back from a printer at least a day or two before the actual event.  Waiting till the morning of an event for the delivery is just too late.  You don’t want to end up with egg on your face!

2.  Check and double-check delivery addresses.  Confirm and reconfirm with the printer in a written form such as email.  Keep a documented paper trail.  That helps to prevent finger-pointing later.

Hand truck with cardboard boxes. 3D Icon isolated on white backg3.  Research the delivery location.  Is there a loading dock?  Is there an elevator?  Big shipments may also require the use of a  freight elevator.  Be sure to ask the printer how many boxes will be delivered. If there’s a large number, be sure to let the client know ahead of time.  Don’t overburden the client with a storage nightmare. They will not be happy.

4.  Follow up with the printer.  Check the time of delivery and have the printer’s shipping department or sales representative send an email as soon as the printed pieces have been delivered to the client. Deliveries should never be left outside unattended by a front door. That’s not a delivery: it’s a dump!

5. Follow-up with the client to be sure that the printed pieces have been received and are in the right hands.  The delivery person needs to get a signature on an actual delivery slip.  If a shipment is FedEx or UPS  or even via the US Postal Service be sure to get a tracking number for the shipment. Too often the product is delivered but it ends up in an obscure mailroom or storage closet and no one can locate it. Keeping a paper trail is a step not to be overlooked.

6.  Make sure that printed pieces are packed in acid-free or archival quality boxes.  Cheap packing materials could affect the PH of the paper resulting in a printed piece that yellows over time depending on length of storage and temperature.

7. Be sure that the client receives a packing slip and signs for the delivery.
This protects you later if a client calls and says that the delivery was not received or it was misplaced. Too often deliveries get rerouted to a shipping room often to be delayed for several hours or even days.

Newspapers8. Follow up with the client to ensure that all the pieces were received properly and the number of pieces is correct.  I once had a printer short a client 10,000 pieces.  The printer eventually “found” the missing maps but only after a lot of searching.

9.  Be sure to request samples from  the printer and  from different parts of the run.  Color can vary quite a bit during the printing. Keep printed samples to refer to if a reprint is later needed or if the project is a consecutive running publication such as a magazine or a newsletter. In addition, it is always best to have samples when pitching a new client.

Get it there right.  Let’s face it…Most people don’t pay much attention to the delivery unless it is messed up.  Then the delivery becomes the most important part of the package. 


If your company needs an innovative or unique design solution, a direct mail piece or quarterly catalog, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen and we deliver what we promise. To find out more please visit

Harlan West is the author of and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

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