Saving money on print

September 16, 2015

Your client has come to you saying they have to cut back their print budget, and can you help them? Without a moment's hesitation you should say "yes"! Why? Because there is always a way you can save money on printing. Let's explore some of those ways.

Don't print

We'll get the elephant out the way first: simply don't print. These days most printed collateral can be re-purposed for electronic use. What once was printed and manually distributed can now be sent out via an eDM, uploaded to a website, turned into a flip-book, posted to social media, etc. Even many legal documents can now be signed electronically.

Print on demand

How often does your client print more units than they actually need? While it is true that the unit cost comes down the more units you print, where is the cost-saving logic if you end up throwing those extra units away? Modern print technology allows you to "print on demand" - printing only what you need, when you need it. In the long-term this can save a lot of money.

Offset v digital

Example: Printing a business card, for one person, 500 units, double sided. To print this card in two spot colours on an offset press can cost up to NZ$700. To print the same business card on a digital press costs NZ$150. The upside is obvious. The downside is that the digital 4-colour rendition of the brand colours will be less vibrant than their usual spot colour cards. Brand colour consistency can often be compromised when the cost saving is considerable.

Change stock

Often simply changing paper stock can result in huge savings. Printers will usually have "house stocks" which they buy in bulk and use whenever a client has not specified a particular stock to use. Printers can then pass on the savings to their clients. Is your client using a specialty stock or one that is difficult to source? It might be time for a re-think.

Ganging up

Cost efficiencies can often be achieved by printing more than one job at the same time. If the jobs are printed on the same stock with the same (or compatible) ink and finishing specs, then your printer will be able to consolidate press costs and maximise the paper sheet size and quantities.

If your job is small, there is even an outsider's chance of sneaking your job onto someone else's print run. That way you would pay only minimal charges for guillotining and packing. This can be a great solution for non-profits and charities.

Print overseas

It is becoming more common to hear of projects being printed offshore, in countries such as China. Huge cost advantages can be realised for long print runs or specialised projects (such as merchandise printing). If you wish to explore this option further, make sure you liaise with someone who speaks your language fluently and understands your requirements. You may not be able to check the quality of the printed items personally, so you'll need to work with a broker (or a printer) you can trust to be your eyes and ears.

Talk turkey

When your client yells "save me some money" your first phone call should be to your printing rep. No printing company wants to lose any more business to the "digital" juggernaut, therefore, they should be doing everything they can to help get a great result for your client at the price they need. This may be a negotiation of the price, or a conversation about exploring the options.

Change printing company

Are you using the right printing company for the job? Whilst supplier/customer loyalty is a grand thing, fiscal reality means you need to periodically source comparative quotes. You may need to send your print work out to various printing companies depending on the type of job and press capabilities. That's not disloyalty, that's working smarter.


Is print dying?

Print is being pummelled by an ever-expanding world of channel-choice, and the marketing pie is being sliced into more segments than ever before. Though not exactly "dying", there is no doubt that the world of print is very badly wounded. 

Print still remains a viable and exciting channel for our campaigns. In a world of digital-clutter, print can provide the "cut through" that we all crave. It's up to us to maximise the opportunities, minimse the costs and deliver campaigns that rock!

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