How to Set Color Expectations with Clients

How to Set Color Expectations with ClientsAre you a PSP worried about client color expectations?

The advent of digital printing technologies changed the game for print service providers (PSPs). It raised the bar extremely high for what clients expect in color and quality.

This has ushered in a host of complications that you now need to address head-on before commencing any printing. And as anyone in the world of printing will tell you, managing client color expectations is no walk in the park.

So, what can you do about it? What best practices can you adopt to ensure you keep your clients happy and retain their business?

Here are a few of our top tips. Let’s get started.

Tip #1: Have an open discussion about color expectations

Before the printing presses start, it is critical to discuss the possible results upfront where color expectations are concerned.

You see, the greater the client’s expectation, the greater the disappointment. In a world where clients expect printers to perform print miracles, you’d be wise first to engage the client. Talk through the limitations of process colors.

Sitting down with your client and their designer is a great way to show that you care about the project’s outcome. It demonstrates accountability and your aim of making sure the client gets exactly what they want or as close a representation as possible.

Designers can be highly creative, but what the client sees on screen might not translate well when printing. There’s a lot to consider, including the software used and its setup. So, it would be best if you made time for an open and honest discussion on what’s possible and what’s not.

This leads us to the next point.

Tip #2: Use visual aids to help demonstrate capabilities and limitations

When discussing the possibilities and potentials of cross-platform printing are had, it might be hard for the client to visualize exactly what’s being said. By bringing in visual aids to assist, you can get your points across easier and more clearly.

This is supported by studies carried out at the University of Minnesota. Researchers discovered that presentations using visual aids were 43% more persuasive than those without aids.

Visual aids don’t have to be anything fancy. Something as simple as a color chart can be enough to illustrate what the technologies you are using can do. In this way, clients will have a new picture of both limitations and capabilities before going to press. Using aids can go a long way in helping to manage client color expectations considerably.

But what if you’re working with clients who live far and can’t commute for in-person consultations?

We’re glad you asked.

Tip #3: Include online guides to assist with production requirement comprehension

It’s often said that printing is an art and color is a science. It turns out that this is true. It is possible to quantify color, measure it, make adjustments, and control variables.

Color technical specialist for IWCO Direct, Mike Todryk, insists that you add online guides to your website to help your clients. You can even use videos to understand what the production requirements are visual.

This is a great way to manage client color expectations even if they cannot physically come in for a discussion.

And speaking of production requirements.

Tip #4: Match color settings with production parameters

It dramatically simplifies the printing process when you and designers work in tandem. You can do this by making sure the color settings the designer is working in are congruent with your parameters for production.

With calibration in sync and working to the same color standards, you will provide the client with as near a color match as any.

It’s worth adding that calibration should be extended to the client’s monitors. This allows them to see a correct version of the work to be printed. Color settings on those monitors should also match those you are using.

Tip #5: Be mindful of your language with clients

Clients aren’t always aware of what’s possible to print and what’s not. What may be evident for insiders in the printing world isn’t always so for customers. Hence the need to be patient when explaining color expectations.

Pause and expound instead of telling clients that you cannot print something. By explaining the technologies you use and their capabilities, you open the door to better understanding.

Many times it’s not what you say but how you say it that makes all the difference. If your tone comes across as condescending, you’ll most likely lose them.

Avoid speaking above the client using technical terms. Try your best to break down the technicalities. Speak in layman’s terms as much as possible. Invite them to ask questions to clarify what they didn’t comprehend.

Now, here are a few additional color management tips you can take advantage of to improve your service.

Bonus: Top color management tips for PSPs

Integrate color assurance software

Color assurance software is an excellent way to measure, monitor, and enforce good color practice. In addition, it provides PSPs with cumulative production data. This allows you to make data-driven decisions that improve color management.

Employ rigorous verification processes

When it comes to print best practices that can boost color accuracy, verification is a sure-fire way to go. This can be done seamlessly by adopting verification software. And with scores of options on the market, PSPs are spoilt for choice.

Calibrate to G7 standards

G7 is today’s gold standard when it comes to printing. By ensuring your devices are calibrated to G7 standards, you are assured of the highest consistency across multiple devices.


Getting color 100% accurate is an art, but there are strategic ways you can manage client color expectations successfully.

Clients will trust you more by being honest, demonstrating your technologies’ print capabilities, and promoting calibration and color setting matching between designers and the PSP.

If you would like to learn more about color management, be sure to read our post What is a Custom Test Print in Color Management?