design, DIY, Profitability

How to Reduce Your Marketing Printing Costs

Last week I was sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by 6 beautiful entrepreneurial women and I asked them what they thought I should be talking more about. They flooded me with ideas and inspiration. And today you are graced with the first dose of what Creative Chics gave me. 

How to Reduce Your Marketing Printing Costs

Let’s be real. Owning and running a small business is way more expensive than we would like it to be. And marketing seems to always be the first thing to get cut. Instead of throwing marketing budgets out all together, what if you could reduce one piece of the puzzle. Today I am going to focus on printing. And boy do I have some secrets for you. This isn’t a corporate office let’s save the planet operation; this is practical ways to think through your marketing materials.

Shop Local, Not Franchise

Every time someone says they went to FedEx Kinkos I cringe. Quit doing it! Sure you can wait until the last minute, but they are way over priced. If you need to make 5 copies sure, but please don’t go there if you are going to print 100 or more. 

Find your local shops. Talk to them. Get to know their sales reps. Are you planning to do a lot of printing? They will even take you to lunch, give you a tour of their facility and teach you about all their capabilities. I personally know who my go to printers are for different types of jobs – for instance brochure vs. tradeshow signage. I know high end and I have a quick and easy digital gal I love. Not all shops are created equal. Check out their quality and ask for examples. When it is time to print, quote at least 3 shops every time, at least until you have a good idea of where it is going to come in at. Always make sure you do pricing first. I can’t tell you how many times a project has died because someone wasn’t aware of how much it cost to produce. Save everyone some time and get educated on the front end. 

I do have a dirty secret. I do occasionally buy print items online. The cost is much more affordable and you can get items fast. Before you design or have a designer put something together make sure you check out their guidelines. Many times they have specific templates you should use or limited size options. For online printing I trust, 4Over and Moo. I have had issues with several others with regard to quality, trimming, color, etc. 

Change Up the Paper

When you end up in a bigger outfit your paper options are going to be endless. Find out stocks they carry in house. Any paper they have to special order for your job will increase the price. As a paper geek, I know it is tempting to go with the luxury line, but cost can drop dramatically if you decrease the weight or change to a more generic line. Your rep can 9 out of 10 times suggest a more cost effective option if you just ask.

Skip the Coating

UV and other glossy coatings are great for adding shine and durability, but they do increase the price. This jump is mainly due to the extra labor involved, an extra step in the project and extra wait time. Think about the durability of the item. Does this need to last 2 hours or 2 years? On short shelf life projects you can always skip the coating. I wouldn’t skimp on the highly handled items like folders.

Size Does Matter

I love a custom sized item as much as the next designer, but size can effect cost. Squeaking in an extra .5” might be ok, but you need to find out first. Typically when printing in larger quantities the more items you can get on the same sheet the cheaper it will be. I know I have lost some of you. Think of an old fashioned newspaper laid flat. This could be the size of your paper potentially. If you are making a postcard, the more cards you could get on that same size paper the cheaper it would be. Sometimes reducing your project by a fraction of an inch will sneak another one up on the page. Just ask your printer or designer for more details. 

The Mailing Nightmare

Also with size you need to think about the delivery method. Are you handing these out in person? Are you mailing them? Do they need to go in an envelope? Size and weight drastically effect mailing rates, so always make sure you fit within guidelines to save a few cents. Square items and some thicker items will also increase mailing cost.

Are you planning to send out a bunch of material all at once? Ask your printer about having them do the bulk mailing for you. Even if you can’t get the bulk rate if you walk into the post office, they might be able to batch you in with other clients for a reduced rate. 

Binding 101

Binding can be beautiful, but it can get expensive really quickly. Here is a quick list of binding methods listed least expensive to most expensive:

  • Staples (or saddlestiched – think brochure)
  • Coil or Comb Binding
  • Perfect Binding (think magazine that is glued on the edge with a spine – many soft back books are also perfect bound)
  • Hard Back Binding

You can always ask your printer for alternative binding methods. Beware not all printers have the same binding capabilities, so you may find that coil binding at one printer is higher than the other. This is probably because they are outsourcing this portion of the process. Don’t be afraid; just ask what kind of binding methods they do in-house. 

All that Glitters is Gold

I love glitter, metallic and all things shiny, but shiny can get expensive. Things like gold foil, metallic inks and laminated surfaces can get pricy. An alternative to metallic ink would be to use a Pantone color that is close match to the metallic and then do a spot UV coating on top to give it a little shine.

Page Count

This is sort of confusing, but pricing goes two ways here. The number of pages per unit the more expensive. The increase in units, the less expensive it gets per unit. The difference being printing 100 – 8 page documents or 100 – 16 page documents. The second item with more pages is obviously going to cost more per unit. If you print 1000 of an item vs. 100 you will pay more total, but your cost per unit will be less the more you bulk purchase. 

Make sure you ask where the next price break is. Occasionally printing 101 units is cheaper than 99, you just have to know when to ask, they don’t always tell you these things. 

The Truth on Color

Yes, color printing is more expensive than just grayscale, but not by much. This gap has gotten much smaller and there has been an industry trend to just go full color every time. There was a time when we would worry about 2 color, as it was cheaper, but really the only time that is necessary is if you are needing to hit a color on the nose every time. If that were the case I would definitely go for it and use a spot Pantone color to make sure you hit the color you want perfectly. 

Splurge on color, it won’t give you a major hit.

Negotiate Baby

You would be shocked what you can do if you just ask. If you have a budget, get an initial quote, then talk about how you could get it down into your predetermined range. Sometimes a printer will give you a straight price break and others will talk about some cost saving measures.

Think Alternative

Now this is more abstract, but think about new ways to reimagine what the possibilities are. Could something be multipurpose? Could you merge two brochures into one that covers both areas? Could you come up with a new way to get the same results? I would love to help you brainstorm new ideas for your marketing materials. Contact me I would love to chat.

Did I get over your head? I am open to questions or clarification. Comment below and ask away. Just need someone to do it for you? Contact me and I can help you get your next project designed and printed. 


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