Why sexiprint prevents you from using your purchasing skills

Technology producers love me! I am seduced by the latest PDAs, MP3 and 4 players, computers, cameras and all the rest!

Over specifying print can cost you more than you think

I am the person who effortlessly decides to purchase a gadget that is faster and has more capacity.  I am the person who wants all the features that only come with the high end model.

But I am the person who doesn’t actually need the speed or capacity.
I am the person who never actually uses all the high end features.

However, I am the person who has fallen in love with my purchases.  And a lot of printer buyers have the same mindset.

A lot of printer buyers been seduced by sexiprint

Sexiprint is the type of print that comes loaded with really nice finishes, new technologies and non-standard processes.  Here are just a few examples of sexiprint:

  • Sparkle varnishes
  • Double-hit pantones
  • Hexachrome
  • 6th colours
  • Augmented reality codes
  • 2D codes
  • Stochastic screening

And here are three ways in which a love of sexiprint can reduce the effectiveness of your print purchasing:

Sexiprint lures you into spending more than you need to

Because you want the matt laminate and the sixth colour and the foiling, your print bill rises dramatically.  But can your product really justify such a big print bill?  Or is your love of sexiprint causing you to ignore the fact that you can’t really justify all these special effects?  Just like my love of technology means that I buy loads of features which I can’t justify.

My love of technology features mean that I end up with a huge bill.  Is sexiprint giving you a huge print bill?

Sexiprint distracts you when choosing suppliers

Lots of suppliers can produce good quality, standard commercial print.  But not so many suppliers are geared up to produce sexiprint.  Sexiprint reduces the number of suppliers that you can approach for a project.  In fact, sexiprint can sometimes limit you to very few suppliers indeed.  When if I fall in love with one particular gadget then I am usually limited to one supplier.

Being limited to so few suppliers can give you all sorts of headaches.  These headaches range from scheduling issues through to prices issues.  And these headaches are all a symptom of sexiprint.

Your love of sexiprint renders you helpless in negotiation

If sexiprint has already reduced your supplier choice, then you have fewer alternative options in hand when you negotiate.  So the chances of you negotiating a winning price or schedule or other outcome are pretty unlikely.

The other negotiation problem is that you may have less appetite for negotiation.  If you have found the sexiprint supplier of your dreams, you will probably be desperate for their product.  And if you are desperate for their product, price goes right out of the window.  Just like price goes out of the window when I choose my latest gadget.  When price goes out of the window you are on dangerous ground.

Here’s a great example of the dangers of sexiprint

The example is a book that was the culmination of the work of a research project.  I worked on the production of the book with a designer and a project manager.  The research team wanted the book to look good.  The designer wanted the book to look fabulous.  And the project manager wanted the book within budget.  But the designer had blown the budget to smithereens.

The first thing that the designer had done was to fall in love with the best possible quality paper.  A lot of paper was required for the book so the cost was high.  So we sent a sample of the designer’s chosen paper and some much cheaper alternatives to the research team.  The research team struggled to tell the difference between the designer’s paper and the others.

The designer also wanted a metallic ink on every page.  The metallic ink also required a sealer to make sure that it wouldn’t rub.  But the designer hadn’t realised that a sealer needed to be specified.  The lack of a sealer could have caused the book to look terrible.

The designer’s love of sexiprint could have resulted in a terrible product at a really high price.

But doesn’t sexiprint increase the return on investment for a product?

The fact is that most people who make this claim do not measure the effectiveness of sexiprint.  Sexiprint rarely makes a difference to users and consumers.  The readership of the book I worked on would have already bought the book.  Sexiprint on the text pages of the book would not change their purchasing decision.

But we kept the cost high for the covers of the book.  The covers would immediately attract and impress the readership.  The covers justified sexiprint.  And we knew this was justified because we sent out some different cover designs and got feedback before finalising the specification.

So 5% of sexiprint can be justified.  But there needs to be a clear understanding of why sexiprint can be justified.

Let’s summarise the disadvantages of sexiprint

Un-necessary Sexiprint will ensure that you achieve less from your print budget.  Un-necessary Sexiprint will mean that you have less control over your suppliers.  And an insistence on sexiprint will also mean that your relationships with your clients will be damaged.

If you avoid un-necessary sexiprint, your clients will respect you more.  You will have a greater control over your supply chain.  And you will achieve much more from your clients’ budgets.

A blind love of sexiprint is bad for you and your clients.

Take these three steps to start banishing un-necessary sexiprint

  • focus on the needs of your clients, not on sexiprint
  • if you do decide to use sexiprint, make sure that you produce a hard business case for it
  • make the most of the opportunities that arise from moving away from sexiprint.  Capitalise on these opportunities by beefing up your purchasing skills

There is one last step you should take:

Take a long hard look at your collection of recent print projects

Is it full of print projects which your suppliers have entered for awards? Is it full of print projects with a really high unit price?  Are there alternative ways of making those print projects happen at a cheaper price which you couldn’t quite bring yourself to seriously consider?

Hmmm.  Sounds a bit like my technology collection…
P.S.  If you have found this article useful, you may also be interested in Print & Procurement’s Print & Paper Specification workshop.  Click here to find out more about our practical purchasing workshop.

Technology producers love me! I am seduced by the latest PDAs, MP3 and 4 players, computers, cameras and all the rest!

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