10 Steps to Better Print Buying

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Budgets are tight. Competition is fierce. Here's how a small investment in time can bring higher profits and competitive advantage. If you spend $1 million or more yearly on commercial printing, you can save at least $100,000 by following these 10 steps:

1. Use all your buying power. Printers are slashing prices. Supply and demand is in your favor. If you are using the same printer you've been using for years, you likely are paying more than necessary.

2. Three quotes are not enough. With the glut of printers, there's always a better, faster and cheaper way to produce printing. Limiting yourself to too small a pool of suppliers prevents you from saving money.

3. See the whole iceberg. Icebergs are 10 percent above water and 90 percent below the surface. Printing is similar in that the cost you pay for printing is but a fraction of the total cost of producing the job.

According to a CAP Ventures study, for every $1 a company spends on the printed product, another $6 is spent on the printing process. This includes costs for design, administration, approvals and salaries.

4. Demand better service. If your supplier isn't giving you expert advice, strategic insight, access to new technologies, accurate invoices, money-saving ideas and great personal service, then find another supplier.

5. Beware of the big guys. Remember the adage: "No one ever got fired for choosing IBM?" There are some well-known printers that serve as a safe choice. However, the bigger the printer, the bigger its overhead.

6. Hold your buyer accountable. Marketers happily delegate print buying to creative services or purchasing departments. When you do this you lose track of your investment, and you end up paying more than you should.

7. Beware the agency. You hired your agency to be creative. Let them create. Don't let them buy your printing. You'll pay too much for the convenience.

8. Partner with your printing supplier. Keeping your supplier in the dark is not productive. If he doesn't know what you need, he cannot deliver. You'll get the best results if you tell your supplier what you need and make it his responsibility to deliver the results.

9. Watch out for acronyms. Beware technology companies that claim they know how to print. Technology doesn't get the job done by itself. Even with the finest software, you need experienced, savvy people on your print procurement team.

10. Manage your investment. When you buy printing, you're not just putting ink on paper. You're really investing in new business. Your goal is to add customers and sell more to existing customers. Before you spend another dollar, ensure that you can track and understand the results you're getting from this investment.

You might be saying, "I'm the marketing director. I've got people to buy printing for me. Why should I get my hands dirty with all this extra work?" Ask yourself these questions, and you'll see why you should step in:

o How many units do I need to sell to make $100,000 in after-tax profit?

o How much does it cost my company to acquire a new customer?

o How many new customers could I add with $100,000 extra to spend on advertising?

o What's the lifetime value of my company's best customers?

o How much money will I make over the next five years if I can save $100,000 yearly on printing and re-invest it in marketing?

How could any marketer ignore an opportunity like this?

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