You’ve Cut Your Print Spend, But Are You Spending Smarter? 13 Ways to Reduce Printing Costs

13 Ways to Spend Your Print Budget Smarter

Even if your print budget is leaner than ever, you still have opportunities to spend smarter. But how? The best way is to leverage your printer’s expertise while you focus on your business. Here are 13 ways you can lean on your printer to help you stay lean. 

  • Save money by using select printer services
  • Use your print materials more strategically 
  • Create print projects that are more cost-effective
Rethink using the high-end paper you've always used.

1. Use your printer’s house stocks

If you’ve been hooked on a certain high-end paper for a while, consider looking for a near-equivalent in your printer’s house stocks.

Printers designate house stocks based on volume pricing from their vendors. That means when your printer saves, you could too when you opt for house stocks.

2. Seek opportunities for longer-term printing commitments

If you want a quote for a thousand newsletters, maybe what you should really ask is, What would it look like if you took over our monthly newsletter?

“Oh, sure,” you’re thinking. “You’re a printer—of course you want a long-term commitment.”

Well, yes, we do. But understand that long-term project commitments are a two-way street. You’ll enjoy much better rates thanks to greater volume pricing.

And don’t forget what happens when competent pros (i.e., both you and your printer) continue to work together. Trust and mutual understanding grow and, more specifically, projects become increasingly efficient over time. That means they also become more cost-effective.

Have different material for different prospectives.

3. Save your best stuff for the best prospects

When it comes to distributing your print materials, never lose sight of the actual end user. If you’re handing material out at a trade show, for instance, have a postcard or flyer for the general masses.

For those interactions that seem like truly promising leads, now you can reach for the multi-page brochure or pocket folder you put so much effort and expense into.

4. Tweak projects to create efficiencies and best yields

If you’re in the design stage, check for small modifications that could result in a much more cost-effective project. 

For example, rather than sending a 6” x 11” self-mailer at the USPS Marketing Mail flat rate, you could send a 6” x 10 ½” piece at the USPS Marketing Mail letter rate. For a for-profit business, the savings in postage alone would be somewhere between $131 to $367 per thousand pieces. A nonprofit could save $74 to $310 per thousand pieces.

Similarly, if you’re ordering only a few banners, you may still be charged for the entire sheet of banner substrate. How many banners can fit on that sheet? Consider making the most of your large-format order by looking to your future needs. 

Standardized pricing can create huge cost savings.

5. Create big-time cost savings with standardized pricing

Some of your print needs are one-offs. But a lot of them aren’t. Rather than constantly going on time-consuming quote hunts, ask your printer about different pricing approaches.

Take standardized pricing. A printer can analyze your projected print needs to find opportunities for economy-of-scale pricing. From that analysis, the printer turns to suppliers to buy print materials more strategically and cost-effectively.

As a result, you get a value-based, standardized price list that can save you time and money. In fact, by seeing your printing needs as more than a series of individual projects, standardized pricing can transform not just your spending but your overall budget planning.

Incorporate evergreen material to keep costs low.

6. Leverage volume pricing for evergreen materials 

For printed information that won’t change for a while, take advantage of volume pricing. For instance, if you have customer forms or product brochures that rarely change, go for larger orders.

But here’s a caveat: Work with a trusted printer to find the volume sweet spot. Nobody wants to see three skids of brochures headed to recycling.

7. Pick print-on-demand services for ever-evolving pieces 

Certain documents and collateral are just too fluid to print in bulk. But thanks to digital printing advancements, producing smaller quantities essentially on-the-fly can be more affordable than ever. (Also, the quality for shorter digital printing continues to improve.)

You can request the exact needed amount of, say, a frequently-changing flyer and have your order turned around in a relatively short time.

Meanwhile, today’s digital printing technology allows you to continually—and conveniently—customize that flyer’s message for subsequent print-on-demand orders.

Deadlines will help your project move along.

8. Set early (and hard) deadlines for event material 

Events in particular can cause logistic nightmares. Do all you can to get info like the following as early as possible:

  • Sponsor logos
  • Presentation outlines
  • Speaker bios
  • Speaker photos

Alert all parties months in advance of what you need and, of course, when you need it. (And keep alerting them.) Also, remind them to confirm that reviewers and final-approvers will be available to sign off on everything. 

Shipping an order three days out vs. overnight could be the difference between a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars. 

Using fulfillment experts can be a cost-effective option.

9. Rely on fulfillment experts (not your staff) to pick and pack

Rather than all-hands-on-deck pick-and-pack marathons at your office, your printer’s fulfillment services could be a much smarter and more cost-effective option.

If they have fulfillment expertise, not only can your printer do a great job with even the most complicated kinds of projects; they can allow your own staff to do what they were hired for (and what they actually want to be doing).

(Check out this related fulfillment case study.)

10. Plan ahead for preprint/imprint projects

For projects that demand a complex and more expensive setup, consider a preprint/imprint model.

Take foil stamping on your business cards as an example. You can have a large run of foil-stamped cards produced just once. Now the most expensive part of the project is over. 

Later, you can have these pre-printed cards imprinted with individual employee information when the need arises—as opposed to paying for the foil stamp setup for each order.    

11. Ship directly from your printer

Why have your printed materials sent to another vendor for final mailing? See if you can rely on your printer’s distribution team. They should be familiar with the various shipping options that exist, e.g., USPS, UPS, FedEx, local carriers, LTL (less than truckload), and others. 

Shipping directly from your printer creates a more efficient and cost-effective process. In fact, see if your printer can put both the printing and mailing services into a single quote for you.  

12. Clean up that mailing list 

Of course you know it’s a good idea to update the mailing list. But how long has it been since you’ve done it? 

Imagine sending 10,000 personalized pieces quarterly—but with 25% of your recipients no longer matching the address. That’s 2,500 items, sent four times a year, with little to no chance for conversion! (For additional direct mail support, see below.) 

Maximize direct mail's effectiveness.

13. Use your printer’s direct mail expertise to drive better results

Your printer may have the latest tools and software to maximize your direct mail’s effectiveness. Are you using them? For example, advanced variable data printing lets you customize individual pieces like never before:

  • Go way beyond “Dear Customer” and connect more personally with each recipient.
  • Customize donation suggestions based on prior giving.
  • Deliver targeted messaging from hundreds of variables like age, geography, home value, and purchasing history.  

Lean on your printer to help you see beyond the single project

A printing partnership should be about so much more than moving quickly from one project to the next. 

Now that you’ve seen 13 ways to spend smarter with your print budget, maybe you also noticed the common thread running through many of them: A strong relationship with your printer can be the key to improving your spending habits.

If any of the tips above resonate with you, bring them up with your printer. You’ve put a lot of work into planning your print budget. Now see how far you can go with it—with the guidance and support of a trusted printer.

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4 Powerful Ways Standardized Pricing Can Improve Your Print Spend

Standardized pricing has many benefits.

For companies and organizations with large print expenditures, standardized pricing isn’t just some jargony print term. It’s a pricing option that gives a competitive advantage. Here’s how it can work for you.

A standardized pricing approach assumes your print needs are more than a series of single projects. It involves a print vendor taking the time to analyze and evaluate your projected print projects to maximize your economy-of-scale pricing. 

If print jobs are more than single projects, standardized pricing may be beneficial.

From that analysis, the printer can then turn to their suppliers to buy print materials more strategically and cost-effectively. 

The advantages are then passed on to you in the form of a value-based, standardized price list that, among other benefits, saves you time and money. 

We’ll take a closer look at those benefits below. But first, let’s make sure we understand exactly what standardized pricing is.

Before standardized pricing: The old way 

Let’s say you contact three printers to price an order of 5’ x 3’ banners. Typically, they’re going to develop a quote based on the physical dimension of the item and your requested quantity.

Unfortunately, this approach not only means you’re at the mercy of unpredictable pricing, it also requires a time-consuming process on your end that involves:

  • Documenting the print specs for every project and distributing to multiple vendors
  • Waiting for the questions to come in and then responding accordingly to each
  • Waiting some more for the all price quotes to arrive
  • Taking the time to finally choose an option and green-lighting the project
  • Hoping you don’t get bait-and-switched after the fact due to differing “interpretations” of your specs

After standardized pricing: The new way

To continue our banner scenario, here’s an example of what standardized pricing looks like.

Rather than give you a single price on a one-off printing project, a printer with a standardized pricing option would instead follow-up your request with questions like:

  • How many of these banners do you produce a year?
  • How many do you produce a month?
  • Do you order them in mass quantities, like 10 at a time, or is it always just one?
  • Is your need for these banners predictable or unpredictable?

Now let’s say this printer discovers you actually need 30 of these banners every month. They go back to their banner substrate supplier and say something like, “Instead of buying just one roll of this at a time, we’d like to buy 12 in advance. What kind of discount can we get?”

Assuming the supplier values the long-term relationship, the printer will get a significant discount. And that transforms the entire pricing dynamic. 

Standardized pricing has many benefits.

4 game-changing advantages of standardized pricing

The benefits to this approach really start to add up:

1. Save through bulk purchasing and discounted raw material costs

Standardized pricing creates long-term cost savings. Your print vendor’s upfront efforts to secure bulk discounts and economy-of-scale pricing creates an advantage that conventional per-project quoting simply can’t.

2. Save time by bypassing the quote hunting 

If you’re in procurement, you know gathering quotes can burn up hours of your time. And the inconsistency of per-project prices can make the process even more painful. But when you’re working from a standardized price list, you can literally price a project yourself.

3. Predict spending confidently and accurately

Whether it’s at the project, campaign, or program level, standardized pricing empowers you to forecast spending accurately. So when your VP of Marketing wants to see that print budget, you can now do that confidently–and almost immediately–with standardized pricing.

4. Enjoy a pricing structure that fosters a strong, transparent partnership   

Standardized pricing doesn’t mean prices are mysteriously fixed. You can and should know exactly what factors are determining your costs—because those factors may change. 

Contractual arrangements are a win for both you and print vendor.

In fact, if you’re spending upwards of $250,000 or so a year on print and print-related services,  you should consider a contractual arrangement with your print vendor. This can include meeting quarterly to review your prices and updating them based on market conditions. 

This is what a long-lasting, mutually advantageous partnership with your printer can look like. 

The logic of standardized pricing: It’s a win-win for both parties 

It takes a lot of time and effort for a printer to develop a standardized pricing list for you. So why would they opt for this kind of individualized cost structure?

Because when customers use standardized pricing, the printer can predict their own workload more accurately and then adjust their staffing accordingly. 

Moreover, by understanding customers’ long-term needs, the printer can turn to their own supply vendors to help solve challenges, not just provide a commodity.

Meanwhile, you’re saving time, transforming your print spend for the long-term, and managing a process you once had little control over. 

Would you like to gain greater control of your print budget and spend less time on pricing projects? Learn more about how a standardized pricing option can help your organization by contacting Thysse today! 

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