The vacuum effect: How to save up to 30% off your print costs without changing print prices

I have heard it said that the very first vacuum cleaners were actually designed to blow dust rather than suck it.  Can you imagine the mess that would make?!  To get a successful invention, it needed someone to challenge what was being done.

Successful print buyers need to challenge things as well

Remembering how vacuum cleaners were invented will soon have you hoovering up print savings.  Read this article to find out more

Remembering how vacuum cleaners were invented will soon have you hoovering up print savings. Read this article to find out more

The most comprehensive way in which they can achieve this is through a print audit.

Print buyers who use print audits will create better partnerships with their clients.  They will be working with them rather than for them.  They will become trusted advisors.  But they will also be more in control of the print work that they produce.  And they will achieve the results that their clients need.

Print buyers who don’t use print audits will struggle to create the same relationships with their clients.  They will also find controlling print budgets more of a challenge.  They won’t be able to achieve the same level of results.

And the results can be impressive

I have often been able to achieve reductions of 30% in print spend with a print audit.  And this does not rely on beating suppliers up on price.  It relies on looking at the way in which my clients are managing their print.

Here are three ways in which you could start to reduce your print budgets.  None of these require you to drive prices down and worry if your print supplier will want to continue to work with you.  And I’ll write about each of them in more depth over the coming weeks.

The first strategy is all about reviewing what you currently produce.

1)    Review print specifications

At many clients that consult with items are printed to a specification that was created a long time ago.  And yet these specifications may not be best suited to today’s markets.  A client’s needs may have changed.  And print processes and papers have certainly developed.  But it is often easier not to challenge how things have been done over many years.

A good print buyer can often achieve considerable savings by reviewing and challenging specifications.  I recently saved a client thousands of pounds by changing the paper specification for their mail order catalogue.

Specifications can also be changed with the second strategy in mind.

2)    Batch your jobs

Many companies produce many similar items.  However, they are often sent individually to the printer.  Huge savings can be made if several items are printed together.  In fact, that is the strategy that many print companies use when manufacturing flyers.

If specifications of items are similar it is definitely worth reviewing if send more than one job at the same time.  I recently worked with a company that used a lot of envelopes.  Batch buying allowed savings of 16% to be made without any other changes.

However, it is not just in the specification and manufacturing of print that savings can be made.

3)    Review your print buying processes

Some companies that I visit spend a lot of valuable time and resource pricing each item individually.  They have to get three prices for every job.  But their time can usually be better spent on something less administrative.

It is therefore a great idea to think about if you can buy print more efficiently.  Modern print procurement systems can make competitive print buying almost instant.  And they can also save on design fees.  I advised on changing print purchasing processes at an agency.  Because it was easier and less time consuming the sales team were motivated to go out and sell more printed items.  This increased the agency’s profits.

However, some buyers feel that it is not their place to challenge specifications and process.  They feel that their role is to get the most out of their suppliers.

Don’t you get better results by challenging prices?

A good print buyer will always spot opportunities for negotiation.  However, printers are being faced by many rising costs.  It is becoming more difficult for them to reduce prices in the way that some buyers are used to.

Therefore, print buyers need to look at other ways in which they can reduce print budgets.  They need to be more creative than simply demanding lower prices.  In any case, the print audit process should not just be about lower costs.

Don’t forget that print audits should be about better results

This print audit process can also review how print is used.  Personalised or multi-channel mailings can often show an increase in sales.  The print buyer may well be able to make a case for spending more on print.

A print audit can benefit a company in many ways.

Here are three steps to get your print audit going

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all the different print jobs that you produce.
  2. Set times to discuss print jobs with the budget holders.  This means that you can really understand what they are looking for and advise them on the best solutions.
  3. Watch out for the following articles in this series so that you can learn more about print audits.

Then you’ll soon be vacuuming up any excess print spends.
P.S.  If you’d like to work on reducing your print costs by 30% or more, make sure you subscribe to the Print & Procurement newsletter.  You’ll get some great strategies.  You’ll also receive our free pdf report “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”. Make sure you sign up by the end of today.

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